And some of Aspen’s detractors believe that extracurricular activities can have a far greater impact on students than what Aspen measures in its survey. Palmiotto cites the example of a current MBA student at Tuck, Courtenay Stephens, a former Accenture consultant with a deep interest in the environment. Soon after arriving at Tuck as a student last year, Stephens met with Palmiotto to discuss how she could best use the MBA experience to position herself for a career in corporate sustainability. “We laid out a plan that included which campus speakers she should meet, which clubs she should get involved in, what she should she do for her first-year project, what she should do for an internship, and what conferences she should go to,” says Palmiotto. “None of that except the first-year project is academic (and counted by Aspen).”
At an annual conference Tuck holds for corporate executives for environmental affairs, Stephens met the head of PepsiCo’s environmental sustainability initiative and parlayed that connection into a business school project to study models of recycling around the world. She pulled together a team of Tuck students to do the study. Stephens also represented Tuck at last year’s Net Impact conference at the University of Michigan, a three-day event that highlights innovative business solutions on sustainability. She led a session at Tuck’s Business and Society conference last February and also became an Allwin student roundtable member, giving her direct access to all the speakers who show up at Tuck to lecture on social and environmental issues. She then used these experiences to land a summer internship with the Carnival Corp. to work on environmental sustainability initiatives.
“It’s not just the courses you take in two years,” argues Palmiotto. “It’s what you get involved in. She’s a good example of why having people outside the faculty with expertise in this area and connecting students to the real world enhances their knowledge and capacity in social and environmental issues. Beyond Pinstripes doesn’t look at any of that.”