McDonough MBA: Leading The Charge In Sustainability

Vishal Agrawal, Henry J. Blommer Family Endowed Chair in Sustainable Business, Professor of Operations and Information Management, Academic Director, Business of Sustainability Initiative, Co-Academic Director, M.S. in Environment and Sustainability Management, Academic Director, Sustainable Business Fellows Program at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, kicking off the inaugural conference of the Sustainability Initiative

Recently, Georgetown University’s McDonough School hosted its inaugural conference of the Sustainable Business Initiative. Led by Professor Vishal Agrawal, the event packed an auditorium with sustainability experts, investors, and MBA students. Among the crowd, you would’ve found a special guest: Lauren Riley, Chief Sustainability Officer of United Airlines. 

“I’m thrilled to be here,” Riley told the group. “it is really really important to have candid conversations with folks like you in this room, because you’re going to be the real true problem-solvers as we transition to a low carbon economy.”

Fireside Chat with Lauren Riley, Chief Sustainability Officer, United Airlines, Moderated by Kerrie Aman Carfagno, Associate Teaching Professor, Georgetown McDonough School of Business, at the 2023 Leadership and Innovation Summit: Business and Climate Change, the Business of Sustainability Initiative’s inaugural conference


Over the past few years, the importance of sustainability in business has been growing from a niche ‘nice to have’, to a lens to view every aspect of business strategy. Georgetown McDonough leads in incorporating sustainable business education across all aspects of its business curriculum. 

Sustainable Business is now embedded into required courses at McDonough. For example, you’ll find sustainability concepts in accounting and operations classes. These can be ‘minored in’ through the new MBA Sustainable Business Certificate, where, for example, you’ll learn   how to do carbon accounting. In addition, students can participate in experiential learning opportunities during the school year via internships and fellowships through the Business for Impact initiative. At the same time, the top-rated Net Impact Club provides students with avenues for career exploration through scholarships, career treks, and conferences. 

One of the driving factors in my decision to get my MBA at Georgetown was the access to experiential learning opportunities. One of the most popular options is Business For Impact (BFI).  

“Georgetown students focused on sustainability and social impact want real-world opportunities with great organizations,” explains Joe Weinstein, the senior director of the BFI program. “It’s been exciting to build this program for them and create meaningful, valuable experiences.”

Joe Weinstein, Senior Director at Business for Impact, speaking to a crowd of students interested to learn more about the impact internships available through Business for Impact at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business


BFI has facilitated over 300 internships for students over the past five years. It has also helped build out the Impact Investing Fellowship program, of which I am a current Fellow and student program lead. I work with Matthew McKenna, an Adjunct Professor and Executive In-Residence, who oversees the BFI Impact Investing Fellows Program. The two-semester long fellowship program pairs MBA students with impact investing internships. It also curates a weekly speaker series of experts working at the intersection of business and impact investing. 

Co-President of the Net Impact Club, Mizna Kanafani, preparing for the Fall 2023 MBA club fair

“This program brings together like-minded students who are passionate to learn more about impact investing,” McKenna told me. “By introducing them to experts working in the industry, and providing them with experiential internship opportunities, we believe the students will complete their MBA experience with a better understanding of the intersection between business and impact.”  

At McDonough, student clubs provide an additional educational component through conferences, and career treks for students interested in working in impact-related careers. For the second straight year, McDonough’s Net Impact Club was awarded the prestigious Gold Status by the national Net Impact, a global organization dedicated to mobilizing the next generation of leaders for creating a better world. Co-President Mizna Kanafani (MBA ’24) described to me a unique aspect of the club, the Social Impact Internship Fund (SIIF).

“It is a student-led scholarship program that provides financial assistance to MBA students completing low or no paying internships in the social impact space. This year, Net Impact raised over $65,000 to support 25 of our fellow students. I love this initiative because it gives MBA students the flexibility to explore industries they are passionate about, while making a meaningful impact, without having the added stress of choosing between passion and financial stability. This program is a tangible example of Georgetown McDonough’s charge to not only be the best in the world but also the best for the world.”   

Second-year MBA Students at Georgetown McDonough

As a second-year MBA student entering the strategy consulting space after graduation, I feel that understanding sustainability and impact are fundamental to strategic thinking and good business practice. Being a part of a community that can see a vision for the future and provides access to experts through events like the Impact Investing Speaker Series and the inaugural Sustainable Business Conference. It also sets Georgetown McDonough students up for success as well-rounded citizens prepared to lead in a climate resilient and carbon conscious economy. 

If you’re someone who has a deep desire to learn more about sustainable business and how you can make an impact, then I recommend you come get your MBA from Georgetown McDonough. Come learn how you can create the change you want to see in the world. 

Emily Claytor

Bio: Emily Claytor graduated from Trinity College with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, International Studies, and French. As Trinity’s Student Body President, she helped launch the College’s Strategic Planning Initiative, Summit. Emily formerly worked in the education technology sector and is in the process of pivoting her career to strategy consulting. She interned at Accenture in NYC, the summer of 2023, as a Summer Senior Strategy Consultant and is excited to be returning after graduation. She is a member of the Consortium and a second-year MBA candidate at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, with a focus on Sustainable Business. She is a board member for McDonough’s Graduate Women In Business Club, a Consulting Peer Advisor for McDonough’s Career Center, an Impact Investing Fellow for McDonough’s Business for Impact Initiative (BFI), as well as the incoming student program lead for BFI’s Impact Investing Fellowship Program.

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