Launching in the fall, the Certificate in Socially, Environmentally and Ethically Responsible (SEER) Business Practice Program will allow full-time MBA students at Graziadio School who are interested in eco-entrepreneurship to enhance their graduate business school experience and career opportunities. An emphasis on responsible business practice and doing what is right for both business and society has always been core to the Graziadio School’s mission.
Increasingly in recent years, student interest and engagement has intensified around topics such as corporate citizenship, conservationism, green marketing, environmental stewardship, social enterprise, corporate social responsibility and social entrepreneurship. Now students may earn a certificate that will strengthen their understanding of the strategic issues for business and secure an added credential for pursuing careers in values-centered, socially relevant and environmentally-focused fields.
“The Pepperdine eco-entrepreneur SEER certification will prepare students to begin integrating an eco-systems approach not only to emerging businesses but also existing organizations that aspire to evolving their perspective business model to embed corporate social responsibly into the firm’s DNA,” says Michael Crooke, the former Patagonia President and CEO who is joining the Graziadio School faculty to steward the program.
After completing six elective units, participating in required SEER events and completing the SEER capstone class, students will earn official certification as part of their MBA degree, and which may be combined with a concentration in entrepreneurship, finance, marketing or leadership and managing organizational change. Participation in activities related to SEER that may be required might include attendance or involvement in student club events, annual Magill Symposium/Social Enterprise Week and case competitions.
One such activity planned for the 2010-2011 academic year includes a trip to Chile. Graziadio School alumnus Tetsuya O’Hara, director of Advanced Research and Development at Patagonia will be leading a team of students on a field project to the Patagonia National Park.
Historically, success in business has been singularly defined by maximization of profit for the owners of the entity. Today’s eco-entrepreneurs and their stakeholders demand more. Their disruptive technology or innovative product/service is now embedded into a wider array of values. These values are: environmental stewardship, corporate citizenship, product/service excellence, and financial strength. When these four values are integrated into the DNA of an emerging business the result is a 21st century blueprint for business sustainability.
These values do not operate in isolation; rather, they function as a system and feature many areas of overlap and interaction. Decision-making is rarely, if ever, guided by one of the four values individually.
For example, product/service quality is defined as striving to achieve the best possible product with the least possible social and environmental harm.
Financial strength is integrally related to the other three values, which cannot function without an economically viable organization. Furthermore, the four values are mutually reinforcing: each of the elements is important individually, but when leveraged as a collective group the relationships are synchronous.
The power of environmental stewardship is amplified when financial strength is realized, and vice versa; and the same can be said of any of the values. For example, when an organization is financially successful, it can invest in environmental innovations, such as solar panels on its buildings, which ultimately reduce long-term expenses and enhance financial performance.