This year, the Student-led Learning team – a group focused on creating experiential learning opportunities through student leadership – brought together a group of students to be part of the first Social Impact Cohort at LBS. This inaugural cohort focused on sustainable supply chains and comprised members from different degree programs, years of study, experience levels, and professional backgrounds. Sarah Pavlu (MBA 2020), Ariane Tardiou (MiM 2020), and Veronique Vera (MBA 2020) were given freedom to explore this topic and find ways to inspire more champions of change.
Cohort Member Background
Sarah worked for four years in management consulting with Deloitte, using her industrial engineering degree to develop supply chain strategies for companies in the US and Europe. She pursued her MBA to identify more sustainable and humanitarian applications of her supply chain skills, interning with Twiga Foods in Nairobi, and will be returning to Deloitte in the London office.
Ariane joined LBS as a Masters in Management student after her bachelor in business and hospitality management. She has always been passionate about sustainability, most particularly how it can be improved in the hospitality, food, and fashion industries. At LBS, she expanded her experience in the space by participating in a consulting project for the Impact Consulting Club and will be joining the Boston Consulting Group as an associate.
Véronique studied environmental engineering at undergrad, was part of the sustainability team of the largest supermarket chain in Peru before coming to LBS, and interned with the Sustainability Practice of Accenture Strategy during the MBA. Now, she is joining full-time the Energy, Sustainability & Infrastructure Practice of the consulting firm Guidehouse (formerly Navigant), where she also did her summer internship. At LBS, she was co-chair of the LBS CleanTech Challenge 2020 as part of the Energy & Environment Club ExCo.
Impetus and Initiative of the Cohort
We were given a lot of flexibility to shape this cohort and set the direction of our research and activities. We first received the support of the Senior Student-led Learning Manager to define our mission statement, “to equip the LBS community to incorporate sustainability into their careers, classes and lives”, and our team charter. We started exploring different ways we could both learn about sustainable supply chains and share our findings with the LBS community in an engaging way. After conducting our own research and completing interviews with LBS students, faculty, alumni, and personal contacts, we decided to write blog posts with the support of the Wheeler Institute. The flexible format of this cohort allows the next students to follow their own path and explore many other areas and ways of engaging with the LBS community.
Why have we decided to join the cohort and how does that fit with our career aspirations?
I came to LBS searching for opportunities to apply my supply chain strategy background to philanthropic / humanitarian causes. The Social Impact Cohort, focused this year on Sustainable Supply Chains, sat perfectly at the intersection of my interests. I was very eager to get to work with others who shared this passion and see what difference we could make.
I have no prior work experience in sustainability, but I have always been looking for an opportunity to learn how I could have a positive impact in a business. I was also very excited to meet other students passionate about this topic and who had prior work experience in this field to exchange on supply chains and broader sustainability practices.
During my summer internship, I worked on projects focused on climate change adaptation for corporates and supplier engagement practices to mitigate environmental impacts, which I found fascinating. Given this experience, my professional background, and my lifelong passion for sustainability, I was excited to join the Sustainable Supply Chains Cohort, learn more about the topic, and contribute to the LBS community interested in this space.
What resources were available to us and what advice would we give to students who want to use the LBS network for this kind of initiative?
The cohort offered a very flexible platform to apply some of our learnings from class – from applications of frameworks that were discussed in our courses or further exploration of companies and positions from case studies. It was important for all of us to share early and share often what we wanted to get out of the cohort, take steps to drive that forward, and support each other along the way. We also reached out to and received support from so many people in the LBS community, including students across a variety of programmes, alumni, club leadership, professors, and the Wheeler Institute. All it takes is the interest and initiative to want to start something… there is so much support available!
What are the main takeaways of this experience?
Through our research and interviews with relevant students, faculty, and alumni, I gained a greater perspective on how sustainability can be driven within an organisation. This depends on the company structure, individual interests and positions, the challenges faced and how solutions are framed, among other things. I highlighted some of my key takeaways in my summary blog post, and can’t wait to see more of this in practice as I continue working in the supply chain space!
The flexibility we were given to explore this topic made this experience more challenging but also allowed me to discover new ways to use the resources LBS has to offer and find creative ways to engage with the community. Exchanging with alumni and students with experience in this field was very insightful to understand how sustainability can be driven from within an organisation without having to be directly in charge of sustainability. I also learned that a company can make enormous progress only by starting measuring the impact of its supply chains and that technology can support this process.
I also learned a lot from my peers, the interviews we conducted, our research, and the posts we wrote. For example, it was very interesting to learn how some organisations are decentralising their warehouses to reduce transportation costs and emissions, as well as the risks from external disruptions, or how the use of new technologies can significantly increase transparency and traceability across the whole supply chain. Today more than ever we know how fragile our supply chains can be and how important it is to build their resilience and sustainability.
To learn more about sustainable supply chains and our cohort, we invite you to read the posts we published in the Wheeler Institute student blog: