Sustainability Spotlight: Nicole Pamani
Nicole Pamani is a MBA Candidate 2020 at Bard, pursuing a masters degree in sustainability! Nicole is a sustainable millennial looking to make an entire career out of sustainability, and she is showing us, others how this can be done, while also integrating sustainable practices into daily life.
Please tell me a bit about yourself
I consider myself an entrepreneurial-minded young woman with exceptional skills in project management, operations/logistics, digital strategy, and writing. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and International Studies from the University of Miami, FL. After graduation, I moved to Manhattan and began freelancing in digital strategy and copywriting, working on projects related to social media strategy, website/course/app launches, editorial content, team efficiency, and more. With 5 years of experience in strategy tucked under my belt, I joined my father and started a small trade company specializing in wholesale imports and distribution of household commodities. As VP of Operations, I fine-tuned my skills in logistics, systems creation, HR, and team management. Once the company was well-established, I lovingly parted ways with my father to pursue an MBA in Sustainability with Bard College, which I expect to complete in 2020. I consider myself a citizen of the world but currently reside in Jersey City, NJ.
So Nicole, you are currently pursuing your MBA in sustainability. Can you tell me what prompted you to choose this field?
While I was eternally grateful for the lessons learned in my most recent position, I had a moral conflict with our business. I wasn’t crazy about the product line, the procurement process, or the demands of the demographic we were serving. When I was looking for an MBA program, I was hoping for something that valued mission driven business. I wasn’t sure if such a program existed, but much to my delight, it totally did. I’ve always been very passionate about sustainability and finding ways to leave the world a better place than when we found it, and I’m a firm believer in the power of business to accomplish that.
·What about sustainability interests you the most, and when did you get into sustainability?
From a business perspective, I can see an, albeit slow, shift towards greener products and services. Not greenwashed companies, but companies who are legitimately building sustainability into their missions and values. As a consumer, I’ve always tried to be aware of the power I have. Every dollar I spend supports something, good or bad, and I find it my personal responsibility to make the best decisions possible. I’m hoping to be a part of the movement that makes it easier to make those good decisions.
What other fields did you consider?
I looked at several more traditional MBA programs as well as masters programs in education and policy. For me, there are three parts to sustainability: changing the minds, changing the rules, and changing the game. Bard’s MBA in Sustainability works hard to change the game by innovating better business models.
What kind of work does one habitually find after completing this program?
There are a handful of career paths. Of the top of my head I know that my colleagues and I are looking at:
§ Working for a mission-driven business in any department
§ Working in a dedicated sustainability department at a company
§ Working as a sustainability expert in any department at a company
§ Impact Investing
§ Mission-driven entrepreneurship
What kind of advice would you offer someone who has a strong interest in the environment and wants to pursue higher education?
Think about where your passions lie and what’s wrong in that system. That’s always a good place to start.
What can people do if they care about the environment but can’t devote their career to it?
Make better choices in your personal lives – think about where your dollars are going on everyday purchases. Encourage your company to make small changes – push for recycling initiatives. Educate yourself – even if you can’t get a masters degree in sustainability, there are tons of resources out there to learn more about influencing change within your company or finding the right career to fulfill your professional and personal goals
Can you tell me a couple interesting things you have learned lately in your classes? Perhaps related to current events, etc.
I’m very operations driven so I’ve been fascinated by the big moves we’ve been making towards a more circular economy. Initiatives like TerraCycle’s Loop are fascinating to me. Not only do such programs try to solve the material issue of single-use packaging, but they are working hard to change consumer behavior.
How else do you practice sustainable living?
o Little things that may not seem like much, but they add up if everyone does them:
§ Switching to all glass Tupperware
§ Investing in a set of reusable utensils/straws to take on the go
§ Shopping at my local farmer’s market
§ Being more aware of where my groceries are coming from in general – supporting things like fair trade coffee
§ Buying clothes from second hand stores
§ Actively searching for a convenient compost solution in my town
§ Voting! for candidates and policies that we desperately need right now [this one is important, is everyone listening?]
Thanks for reading, and be sure to stay tuned for next weeks feature: Rachel Mahalow!