Sustainability and Leadership with Professor Rae André

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This webinar features Professor André explaining the importance of Sustainability in Leadership. While explaining the nature of this course, Professor André also makes a strong case for the advancement of sustainability in all business practices. This webinar concludes with a Q&A session.


Angela LaGamba: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Northeastern University’s Online MBA webinar with Professor Rae Andre on this topic of Sustainability and Leadership. My name is Angela and I’ll be your moderator for today.

We’re very excited to go through the agenda with you today. We’re going to be talking a little bit more about Northeastern University and the D’Amore-McKim School of Business and the online MBA program. Our professor is going to be covering sustainability and leadership and then we’ll have Khurshid tell you a bit more about the admissions requirements and then tuition and scholarship. As I mentioned earlier you’re more than welcome to send in questions through the Q&A box and we will be addressing those during our Q&A session at the end of the webinar. So without further ado, I’d like to hand it over to Khurshid, our enrollment advisor, to tell us a bit more about Northeastern University. Go ahead, Khurshid.

Khurshid Iqbal: Let me begin by telling you a bit about Northeastern University and the D’Amore-McKim School of Business. Northeastern University was founded in 1898 and the College of Business in 1922. We began offering the MBA in 1963. In 2012 we received a generous naming donation from two alums, which are Rich D’Amore and Alan McKim, in the amount of $60 million; hence the name D’Amore-McKim School of Business. Today the D’Amore-McKim School of Business has a distinguished history and a reputation for excellence in teaching, learning, and research; one which we are all very proud of.

Next I would like to discuss our rankings and accreditations with you. We are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate School of Business, otherwise known the AACSB, and also by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Both represent the most highly regarded accreditation in the United States. At the same time we are also very proud of our accolades and rankings. Northeastern’s online MBA program is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Our online MBA is ranked number four in the United States by the Financial Times in 2016. US New and World Report ranks Northeastern University’s online MBA program as number 36 in the United States in 2016.

Let us now take a look at the rich programs offered through the online learning environment. In 2006 we became one of the first online AACSB accredited MBA programs in the United States. While you’re in the program you can further your degree by choosing from eight in-demand concentrations with completion of them in as little as 24 months. At the same time you can also leverage our focus on experience and learn from some of the best business minds in the United States. Our program is also designed for busy professionals and can equip you with the graduate level knowledge and management foundation needed to unlock new opportunities for growth within your company and also in your career.

We recently conducted a survey and we learned that our online MBA graduates identify our AACSB-accredited education, our flexibility of the program, and our reputation as the three most important factors that contributed to them choosing Northeastern University. It is also important to know that 56 percent of our respondents received a salary increase, 48 percent received more managerial responsibilities, and 46 percent received a new job title after enrolling into the program.

Now students within the program also appreciate opportunities to specialize in one of our eight areas of concentration. We offer nine classes per year that are on average five weeks in duration and they typically can be completed in as little as two years. We offer a faculty and instructor model with maximum class sizes of 20 students, but most classes average about 14 to 15 students a class. Our instructors have graduate degrees in business, experience in specific disciplines that they are teaching, and our professors all have PhDs and extensive work experience in their discipline in which they teach.

Now students can also earn a single or a dual concentration. As long as three or more of the five electives are taken in a specific area, the student will earn a single concentration. Now the opportunity exists to complete two concentrations as well. If two classes are taken from one area, and two are taken from another, and the fifth class is shared by the two disciplines, you can earn two concentrations. So students who successfully complete the core curriculum have the option of also applying to extend the program by four courses to earn a dual MBA/MSF degree. If you want to broaden your management perspective and career flexibilities, then a dual degree will definitely be a good fit for you.

We also have exciting options of residencies available to our students who are in the program; our domestic residency, which may take place in Seattle, Washington; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Boston, Massachusetts. These residencies are designed to provide networking opportunities and count as one of your general electives. Then there’s also the international residency which takes place in the second year of the program which you can participate in as well. And last year the destinations included China, Dubai, Greece, Turkey, Colombia, and Peru. Back to you, Angela.

Angela LaGamba: Okay, thank you very much, Khurshid. And now we’d like to move on to our next section on sustainability and leadership and I’d like to hand it over to our professor to get us started. Go ahead, Professor.

Rae Andre: Thank you, Angela. Hi, folks. Welcome to this introduction to my course which is Management 6225, Sustainability and Leadership. I’ve been teaching this course for five years in the online MBA program. I also teach it on campus at both the MBA level and the undergraduate level, and I give executive programs in this area.

As you can imagine, when we’re talking about sustainability, which includes things like climate change and energy, the material is always evolving. So I work very hard to keep it up-to-date for you and to point out to you the strategic and operational relevance of the material. By taking this course you can get one step into your sustainability certificate if that’s one of the certificates that interests you.

So sustainability and leadership is in general – I’m not going to read through this slide for you, but you can take a look at it – in general, it is about making the planet safe for all life. That means you and me and everything else on this beautiful earth of ours, and how can we all take leadership roles whatever our status in the corporation, our role in the corporation – how can we all take leadership roles in our organizations and our communities to help us to maintain sustainability?

The course learning objectives are first of all, we focus on climate change and energy. These are two sides of the same coin, and one of my first goals for you is so that you can begin to understand how to read basic science. I know that’s going to sound very challenging, but we help you through the major stages of an article and help you to glean what you can, and when you can’t get it, outsource it to someone else. And we talk you through all of that so that you can really feel comfortable at some level with the science of climate change and energy. We also work with stakeholders beyond the science who cares, who are the people, the communities, the governments, and most importantly, the companies that are interested in working with sustainability and what are they doing?

We then move on in terms of goals to performing research. We ask you to perform two research papers and we’ll get to that in a moment. And in order to do that what I ask you to do is identify high-quality databases, and I teach you how to do that, and to write what is essentially a credible white paper. So if you were asked by someone in your company to make a recommendation on, for example, where to put a new plant for your company, some of what would be needed for that would be a sustainability research, and you would be able to write a credible white paper after learning to do the research as we teach you in this course. And then of course, how can you lead – how can you use these things to lead your company to being more sustainable?

Those are our course learning objectives. My students tell me – I’ve had many students tell me that they wish they could take this course early on in your curriculum, and I believe you can, and the first reason they tell me is that the research skills you will gain in this course are very useful for you to move into other courses. I’m going to help you to learn how to find peer reviewed articles in excellent databases, and how to really milk our library online for all it’s worth for this course and other courses. We practice an APA format, which is a particular format that the university uses and most journals use, and most technical writing uses.

The second reason to take the course early on is because climate change and energy are themes in almost every course today, certainly in every company. And so it’s just a good basic set of knowledge to have. And finally, you can get a specialty in sustainability at Northeastern.

For March 2017, which is the next time that the course is offered, I’m going to deliver the course in three parts. The course is being updated currently, so I’m working hard to make everything fall in place very accurately and thoroughly. You can see the major topics here, I’ll let you read those, and I’ll point out that there are two graded projects. The first one is to identify a scientific project of interest to you that you can research. And the second one is to find the stakeholders who are involved with a scientific project that is of interest to you.

For example, let’s say you live in Florida and you’re in the hospitality industry. You’re going to be interested in sea level rise in Florida and then you’ll probably do your first paper on that and your second paper on who are the companies that will be affected, who are the government agencies that are being affected and how are they interacting?

This may seem hypothetical to you at this point if you haven’t really thought about climate change and business, but I’m located here in Boston, and as you may have heard, General Electric is now moving their headquarters here, and one of the first things they did when they bought property in the seaport area, which is a very low-lying area, was to plan to put five inches of silt on that property so that they could raise it because that is about how much they think they need to raise their building to protect themselves from sea level rise over X number of years.

If you’re in accounting or finance, this stuff is all relevant to you because you’re going to be helping your company to assess cost and risk. You may already know that the SEC has reporting requirements for companies with respect to climate change impacts, and you need to be able to asses that stuff.

So in class we have all this real serious stuff, but we also have a lot of fun. And one of the ways I’ve tried to inject – and have injected – I think injected some interest in the class is to do some self-quizzes. So I thought I might engage you today with Angela’s help in answering a few preliminary questions.

So what we’d like you to do is answer this question. Throughout history the earth’s atmosphere contains 270 parts per million of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas. Scientists believe that the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is how many parts per million?

The right answer is 350 parts per million, and you guys weren’t too far off from that. Let’s see what the next slide tells us.

One of the things I love about teaching this course is it’s very interdisciplinary and I think that’s a huge amount of fun, and there’s a lot of fascinating graphs and animations. We can’t show them to you today, it’s a little too complicated to do that, but for example, here’s a graph that shows you what we were just talking about, and the highest historical level CO2 – way back to 400,000 years before today. And you can see how it goes up and down and so the current – this isn’t even up-to-date – it should be 400 ways up here somewhere. So this is really interesting results that paleo climatologists can give us, believe it or not; very important information for us to have today.

Scientists believe that 350 parts per million is the limit, but we are already at 400 parts per million. We just hit that amazing amount just this last year. And here’s a graph done by something called the Keeling Graph. Keeling was at the Mauna Loa summit – the big island of Hawaii, many of you have been there perhaps – and he began just sort of idly collecting data on CO2 levels way back in 1958. And as you can see, up they go, and they’re still going up. Okay, so question two.

You will find that in general the answers to what, in fact, is a ten-item quiz are all over the place. I think most people – I haven’t done a calculation but I think the average is probably about four. The correct answer is at the poles.

Now, I knew you’d want to know why it is at the polls and I researched that on the NASA website just yesterday, and the answer is they’re not quite sure. Some of it has to do with things like the albedo effect, the fact that as more water is revealed as opposed to snow, there is less reflected, less heat reflected back to the atmosphere. Another reason is just simply climate – large climate changes may also be affecting that, and it’s multi-variant. So question three: Burning fossil fuels is a major contributor to CO2 in the atmosphere. That’s not questionable. How many barrels of fossil fuel that we call oil were burned on a daily basis worldwide in 2015? This may seem hard now but at the end of our – three days into the course it’ll seem easy.
The correct answer is 96.

We currently burn about 96 million per day. The US is about 20 percent of that. And let me just read this, “According to the US Energy Information Administration, world demand is expected to climb 17 percent in the next 20 years.” So far from reducing greenhouse gasses – oil burning and greenhouse gases, it’s going to go up unless we do something.

I threw in the third paragraph here just to remind me to tell you that there are all kind of animations that we are going to use and tapes of scientists talking about their research that are easy to understand. And so the course is heavily interactive in that sense.

Why is a number like – who care about a number like 96 million? One of the things I’d like you to take away from my class and you can take away from this seminar today is the following. Let’s just round that number up to say 100 million barrels per day. You need to keep that in your mind. If you’re reading a news article – like last week there was a news article on CNN, and it was all over the place, that a “massive oil discovery was made in West Texas.” Three billion barrels of oil were found in West Texas. The naïve reader and listener to that piece of information is going, “Wow, three billion. That’s going to last forever.” In fact, if you start dividing three billion by 100,000, you get about a month’s worth of world usage. So three billion barrels lasts just one month.

And the fact of the matter is we’re running out of oil and in the class we will talk a great deal about that. So consumption’s going up, the amount of oil existing is going down. What’s happening is we’re tapping into dirtier resources, more expensive resources, which also contribute to climate change.

So, how are we going to get out of this mess? We’re desperate for leaders. We need leaders in all disciplines. We need the Elon Musks of the world and we need scientists and we need media people, we need politicians, and one of the things we talked about in the class is who’s going to do this and how can you do it? So the first thing – in terms of practical application, the first thing that’s on your mind is what can

I do in my organization and will my organization value that? That’s a very good question. Not all organizations will value this, you have to be careful. But in general we have executive leadership, if you’re leading your company, how can you manage meaning get people to understand what’s going on and establish strategy. Most of you are going to be working at an operational level. Understand your organizational culture around these issues and work with that culture, and then manage organizational change to implement the most effective policies for your company.

And then the very last section of our course is how do we get this done in terms of the world? What sector is going to dominate here? What sector is going to contribute the most? Is it going to be business? Is it going to be government? Is it going to be other sectors of the economy that are really going to help in this effort, and where should you put your energy and your commitment? We have some really wonderful discussions about those issues.

So I’d like to thank you for listening. I hope I’ll see you in Management 6225 in 2017. If not then, later on in your career in the NU online program. Thank you very much.

Angela LaGamba: Great, thank you very much, Professor for walking us through sustainability and leadership. And I do have quite a few questions that are coming in from our audience, and I encourage you to continue sending in those questions. We’ll be getting to our Q&A in a couple of minutes. But for now I’m going to hand it over to our enrollment advisor, Khurshid. He’s going to walk us through the admissions requirements for the online MBA. Go ahead, Khurshid.

Khurshid Iqbal: Thank you, Angela. Now let’s take a look at the admission requirements. In order to qualify to apply for the program you are required to meet our general guidelines which require that you have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher learning with a GPA of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale. You must be currently employed and have a minimum of five years of demonstrated professional experience.
Now as far as the application requirements are concerned, you are required to support the application with official transcripts from every institution that you might have attended in the past, most recent and updated resume of yours, two professional recommendation letters will be required, a statement of intent essay, together with a completed application and non-refundable $100 application fee.

Speaking about the tuition, you need to complete 18 classes which is 50 credits in total. Each credit will cost you $1,513. The entire program will end up costing about $75,650. We also participate in the Yellow Ribbon program. Kindly visit for more information.

We also encourage our returning alums by supporting them with a Double Husky Scholarship of up to 25 percent tuition waiver. Please visit for more information. We also advocate Lifetime Learning membership for currently enrolled full-time students family as well as providing them with up to 25 percent tuition waiver. For more information on that category, kindly visit . Thank you, Angela.

Angela LaGamba: Great, thank you very much, Khurshid, for walking us through the admissions and tuition. And we are now moving on to the next section of our webinar where we have our dedicated Q&A. If you have any questions feel free to continue sending them in through the Q&A box located on the left hand side of your screen. All right. Let’s get started. We have a question for you, Khurshid. One of our audience members wanted to know how many credits are in each course?

Khurshid Iqbal: That is definitely a great question. Now all in all you are expected to complete 50 credits in total. Not every class is going to be equally – especially when it comes to the credit allotment. A majority of the classes are three credits each. There are also a few classes that are a credit and a half, and two and a quarter credits. Thank you, Angela.

Angela LaGamba: Great, thank you very much, Khurshid. And Professor, the next question is for you. The question is from a health and nutrition perspective, can you please speak to how the class will be able to address these issues? Go ahead, Professor.

Rae Andre: I’m not quite sure I understand what that means – health and nutrition perspective, but let’s assume that it means something about agriculture and how agriculture is going to be affected. For example, North Dakota is going to be one of the states in this country most affected by climate change because it’s going to be warmer and it’s going to have water issues and so on. My inability to answer that question directly puts it right back in the student’s lap which is I’m teaching you a whole bunch of skills that you can use and I want you to tailor it to your interests. So you would talk with our instructor and work with that thought and that topic to make a paper – a couple of papers and some explorations that interest you. So that would be an ongoing conversation and then your selection of your topic that we would help you then to research.

Angela LaGamba: Great, thank you very much, Professor. And to our audience member that asked that question, feel free to send in a followup if you want to provide some additional clarity. Our next question is for you, Professor. Our audience member wanted to know if you could speak a little bit more about the concentration in sustainability and the courses that are offered and how that would apply to an MBA program for a student. Go ahead, Professor.

Rae Andre: You know, Angela, I’m going to give that back to you because those courses change so often enough that I’m not on top of that. So maybe we can – either you can answer it now or we can answer that student later?

Angela LaGamba: Sure, so from the student that asked, you’re more than welcome to reach out to our enrollment advisor and we can get you more information. But just to provide you with some high level context, we do have eight concentrations that are available within the online MBA program. Sustainability is one of those concentrations, and each of those courses is listed so we can share that with you so you can see what they are. And within the online MBA program you would be taking five electives and those sustainability courses would be part of your electives in the second year of your program.

So that’s higher level but I would encourage you to follow up. We do have some information on the screen here and if you reach out by email or phone, we can also provide you with some additional more specific information on those courses.

The next question that we have is for you, Khurshid. One of our audience members wanted to know can a student – can one take courses prior to applying or matriculating that will later be credited towards the MBA degree?

Khurshid Iqbal: All right, thanks, Angela. Once again a good question. You can take courses but not without applying. You would need to register and do a certificate program, and the classes that you would complete in that certificate program would transfer into the MBA degree eventually.

Angela LaGamba: Great, thank you very much, Khurshid. Professor, our next question is where do you see the future of sustainability going? Do you think that there would be any impact on the economy in the next 20 to 30 years? One of our audience members wanted to know. Go ahead, Professor.

Rae Andre: Well, there’s a big debate on that right now. And your question is an excellent one and it’s one that we would at the end of our course, sections five, talk about. It depends on whether you think that sustainability itself can be organized to create jobs. Most people that I chat with and study believe that creating – moving towards solar and wind – a huge diversity of energy sources is going to create a lot of jobs – can and should create a lot of jobs, but it needs to be nurtured. Other people think that we need to just forge ahead with the gross economy based on fossil fuels, and I’m hoping we don’t go there because I do believe myself that if we continue on that path we are going to fry the planet, and we’re going to fry it sooner rather than later.

It used to be that 50 years ago or even 30, 25 years ago people thought that maybe climate change and global warming would happen over a period of thousands of years. As you can read and if you read decent sources of news, I refer to the Economist, the Financial Times, the New York Times and then basic science, which is a whole other area to read, we’re finding that climate change is happening faster than we thought it was going to happen. And so we all have to be on top of that as best we can and keep working and keep leading. Thanks.

Angela LaGamba: Great, thank you very much, Professor. Our audience member who had asked the health and nutrition perspective question wanted to follow up and say for clarity that the health and nutrition question she had meant in terms of agricultural raw materials such as procurement, sourcing supply chain and manufacturing, for example, and the entire value chain. I don’t know if you want to add to that as well, Professor.

Rae Andre: You know, I believe that we have a course in the program that will look at values in the supply chain. That’s not my course but there are other courses that will specialize in that. That’s a super important question. How long should your supply chain be versus are we moving to local agriculture. We’re a very large interconnected world. We’re probably not moving to local agriculture if we don’t have to. So what’s the alternative? Creative young people interested in this will be solving that problem. Thanks.

Angela LaGamba: For our audience, if you have any additional questions I encourage you to send those in. But in the meantime, Professor, I just wanted to see if you had any final thoughts before we begin to wrap up our webinar.

Rae Andre: Sure, you know, Northeastern’s a very practical degree. We like to get things done. In my course I want to give you the tools to help you get things done in your companies. Please keep that in mind as you think about whether to enroll or not in our program, and I hope you do. Thank you.

Angela LaGamba: Great, thank you very much, Professor. And to our audience we’d like to thank you as well for taking the time to join us today to learn a little bit more about the sustainability and leadership and also review the online MBA. We have put on screen information about how to contact us. So you can reach out by phone, by email, or you can also schedule an appointment if you find that’s more convenient for you. We’ve provided a link to our scheduling calendar. And I’m going to hand it over to Know how briefly to maybe talk a little bit about the upcoming start dates for this program.

Khurshid Iqbal: The very next upcoming start is going to be Fall start term with the classes starting on November 14th and the application deadline being October 24th. And then the Spring 1 start term which would be January 9th, 2017, and the deadline for that particular start is going to be December 19th, 2016. The start next would be Spring 2, which would be February 13th and the application deadline for that particular start would be January 23rd. Thank you, Angela.

Angela LaGamba: That is all the time that we have for today. Thanks to everyone for participating in our sustainability and leadership webinar. We will have a recording available on our website soon, but if not, have a great day. Take care everyone.