Melanie Reese common thread

UCSD Certificate Leads to Antioch MBA for Sustainable Brewing Advocate

“We’re at this time where politics is kind of failing us and you want to help, but you don’t know how,” says Melanie Reese. Instead of being complacent, though, Reese has chosen to study how to change the world and specifically how to impact what she has influence over: the brewery where she works. That’s why she has enrolled as a student in Antioch’s progressive, online Master of Business Administration program. As she explains, “Right now, I’m trying to apply a lot of these concepts and initiatives within my current work.” 

This decision to study at Antioch was made easier because of a new partnership between the Antioch MBA and UC San Diego Extension’s Sustainable Business Practices certificate program. This allowed Reese, who attended that program, to transfer as many as ten credits from that program that now count towards her MBA. This partnership between UC San Diego and Antioch’s MBA is providing an increasingly important pathway for students to get the training needed to make essential changes to the business world—and Reese is the perfect example.

A Valuable Education For Today’s Challenges

In a world with a changing climate—the impacts of which will become increasingly unpredictable unless the situation is met with transformative leadership—building green businesses is at the heart of economic resilience. There is an urgent need for sustainable businesses, which is why the Antioch MBA has partnered with UC San Diego Extension’s Sustainable Business Practices program. Ultimately, this partnership will assist students to help build a cleaner, greener future more efficiently than ever before. 

Antioch University’s MBA will remove all duplicate courses for students who have completed the UCSD extension program, and allow for as many as 10 credits to be transferred in, supplying an opportunity to save money and time while pursuing higher education. Antioch’s MBA features the mutual importance of people, planet, and profit in building successful organizations and communities, and by increasing accessibility the MBA is furthering its commitment to this mission. 

Finding Success and Simplicity at Antioch

This partnership between Antioch and UCSD Extension allows students to streamline their transition into graduate school, complete their coursework efficiently, and create a positive impact on the business world. As soon as Reese began the MBA she was able to put sustainable changes in her professional world into motion. She completed UCSD’s extension program this last winter and began Antioch’s MBA soon after, in May of 2021. She said transferring credits into Antioch was as simple as filling out a single piece of paper and sharing her transcripts.

Reese discovered Antioch’s MBA by coincidence. As she was completing the UCSD extension program, she began researching options for continuing her education. After looking into a handful of programs she decided that Antioch seemed not only accessible, given her ability to transfer credits, but also very attractive since the entire program was centered around the concept of sustainable business.

Reese is currently enrolled in her fourth course, “Strategy, Innovation, and Resilience.” This class, taught by Omar Parks, happens to be her favorite thus far. She finds that the strategies and concepts discussed in the classroom are immediately applicable to her workplace. This course demonstrated how quickly Antioch MBA students can initiate change in the business world. 

Bringing Lessons From the Classroom Into the Brewery

Reese works in the beer industry, and this gives her plenty of opportunities to implement new green practices not only in the office but across their entire production line. On a recent business trip to Copenhagen, where sustainability sits at the heart of business, she discovered a number of strategies taught at Antioch already being practiced by her colleagues. Furthermore, she was able to introduce new, recently learned strategy concepts to the team. These connections between the academic realm and the business world felt gratifying and exciting. 

As part of her intellectual engagement with questions of sustainability in business, Reese read Rebecca Henderson’s Reimagining Capitalism (2020), in which Henderson suggests a compelling and practical path toward sustainability: to make the private sector, specifically large corporations, responsible for leading the charge toward environmentally sound business development and practices. This resonated deeply with Reese. While these concepts had been raised in class she felt like Henderson’s book outlined a feasible solution to the seeming impossibility of our current geopolitical moment. While politicians are seemingly unable to act on behalf of the environment, and citizens in their everyday lives may feel disempowered to solve this urgent issue, it occurred to her that she could begin right now as a leader in her organization, balancing profit and purpose to set an example and be a part of a solution.  

Reese is currently organizing an internal sustainability committee at her workplace. Additionally, she is leading her company in pursuing a B Corp Certification, which would ensure that they meet the highest standards of social and environmental commitment across the board while maintaining transparency and legal accountability. Her workplace is now working towards transitioning entirely to solar as well as examining supply chain resiliency and manufacturing efficiencies by cutting down on waste and water usage within their production facilities. 

In the future, Reese hopes to become more involved with the brewing community, leading and collaborating across the industry to improve sustainability within the supply chain at large. She explains that there are already numerous established and young breweries implementing green solutions, a development that she finds promising. In the past, sustainability always sounded very broad or general, Reese says, but now, largely through her studies in the MBA program at Antioch, she’s able to understand both its specific applications and the transformative solutions that can and should be implemented within businesses and organizations.

For Reese, the intersection of her academic interests and her professional world has been enriched by the MBA. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Food Science, but she has always been interested in furthering her education and deepening her expertise. Getting to supplement her scientific knowledge of the food and beverage industry by studying sustainable business has been extremely rewarding. 

A Transformative Program

Reese says that, for her, the MBA has kicked off many transformations—and quickly, too. Its accessibility paired with its comprehensive focus on sustainability across the curriculum creates an all-inclusive yet approachable learning environment. She insists that Antioch’s attention toward social equity and the environmental aspects of community-centered learning makes the institution one that practices what it preaches.

“Antioch teaches a lot about putting what we’re actually learning to use,” says Reese. She’s happy that her studies at UC San Diego led her here. “The program at UCSD is amazing,” she says. “UCSD laid a really good foundation for me to build on.”

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Kenzy El-Mohandes

Kenzy El-Mohandes

Kenzy El-Mohandes is an MFA candidate in creative nonfiction at Antioch University Los Angeles. She lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
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