Practicing Resiliency and Continuity in the Face of an Extreme Weather Event

Keene, NH—During this incredibly snowy winter, the second MBA in Sustainability class weekend of the Spring 2015 semester was disrupted by yet another winter storm. Ironically, the February Community Meeting Forum was titled Business Continuity in the Face of Extreme Weather Events. The guest speaker was supposed to be Michael Simpson, Chair of the Department of Environmental Studies at AUNE and Director of the Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience. This event will now be held in the fall.

With no easy way to reschedule classes, MBA in Sustainability students and faculty practiced great resilience and flexibility by holding classes online. The weekend was a success, despite having little time to respond and plan. Content was presented, real-time discussions ensued, and guest speakers participated, all via a virtual classroom format.

Without skipping a beat, MBA students in Assistant Professor Taryn Fisher’s Finance for Socially Conscious Leaders class initiated their spring semester client consulting engagements, with three clients joining virtually.

One student group is working with Josh Lipkowitz, an AUNE master’s student in the ES Conservation Biology concentration, and social justice and sustainability coordinator on the Sustainability and Social Justice Committee. Josh has been working on a host of sustainability and social justice initiatives, such as advancing AUNE’s Climate Action Plan. This MBA team will analyze Antioch University’s endowment and propose a reinvestment strategy that’s more closely aligned with Antioch’s mission and values. This effort is a direct response to the growing fossil fuel divestment movement.

A second student group is working with Danny Veerkamp, a 2014 MBA in Sustainability alumnus. Danny is a Project Manager and a LEED AP® and BPI Building Analyst at Bensonwood Homes in Walpole, NH. Bensonwood is exploring B Corp certification. This MBA team will support Bensonwood’s impact assessment process and will recommend action steps to improve the company’s impact score. B Corps are redefining success in business, putting people and the planet ahead of profits.

2010 MBA in Sustainability alumna, Sarah Maine, is also returning AUNE as a business client to work with a third group of MBA students. Sarah is the Director of Product Development at Independent Means’ Camp Start-Up, based in Santa Barbara, CA. From her New York City base, Sarah oversees curriculum and trainer development. This MBA team will conduct a user acceptance test of a business plan eTool for Camp Start-Up, a program for teens with a curriculum focused on financial fluency and mining the entrepreneurial spirit.

While we prefer that our intensive class weekends happen face-to-face, it’s nice to know that we were able to develop resilience and maintain operations through a disruptive weather event by flipping to a virtual format on a moment’s notice.

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