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Bard MBA Career Development with Jorge Fontanez

Students choose the MBA in Sustainability at Bard not only because it's one of the top sustainability MBA programs in the world, but because they want meaningful careers creating a sustainable future. Our program is uniquely focused on helping graduates have impact at scale in this new world of mission-driven business. Students build their professional network by gaining access to sustainability leaders through our student-run podcast—The Impact Report, our Sustainable Business Series, and many guest lecturers. Students are also assigned professional mentors each year they are in the program. And in Bard's unique, individually mentored MBA capstone, students work one-on-one with a faculty advisor to develop future careers as purpose-driven entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs or sustainability consultants.  

Students also take a dedicated career workshop taught by Marketing Professor Jorge Fontanez called "The Path: Navigating Social Impact Careers". Fontanez, an Aspen Institute First Mover Fellow, bring his own career experience to bear in his teaching.  He has worked at major companies like Colgate-Palmolive, Alcoa and JP Morgan, and now running his own marketing and branding consulting company.  Running from January to December in advance of the graduation year, the year-long sequence is structured on four principles: 

  • Being enough: a focus on intrinsic genius.
  • Creative approach: storytelling, but also story-making and story-sharing
  • Depth: Skills-building, not life-hacking
  • Systems thinking: moving from ("I") introspection to extrospection ("We") 

Fontanez’s vision for the course is to help students build social capital through a series of workshops, one-on-one advising, and peer-to-peer development through Network Job Search Teams.

Topics included in the workshops include Career Mapping, Visioning and 360 Evaluation / Self Assessments. Students also develop a personal brand (creating a LinkedIn "Future-Self"), build personal marketing plans, and participate in informational & behavioral interview. 

Emily Robichaux-181359-edited“The career course helped carry my Bard MBA experience from the classroom to a new workplace,” says recent graduate Emily Robichaux.  “With Jorge’s guidance and support, I crafted a mission-oriented career goal, reframed my professional narrative, and began interviewing for leadership roles in a new industry that would previously have been out of reach.”  Robichaux leveraged the Bard career opportunities to take a position as Director of Finance and New Product Development at Groundswell, a DC-based company focusing on providing solar power to low-income households.



As students complete the workshop, they form into Network Job Search Teams, based on their “career search mindset”, not industry. The categories include: 

  • Seekers: Currently on search for a summer internship or F/T job
  • Switchers: A career switcher, ready to move Industry, Job or Function
  • Builders: Seeking experiences and developing skills for the next job
  • Searchers: Uncertain, soul searching and/or using Capstone to figure it out
  • Intrapreneurs: Navigating social impact at current company
  • Entrepreneurs: Working on an idea/concept/MVP

Fontanez says that “This approach has garnered support from the Bard MBA students, many of who
are experimenting with Alistair Hall-196413-editedHOW to make the most of their degree now, or after graduation, not WHAT industry, career or job they intend to go into next.”   

Alistair Hall worked with Fontanez last year, and recently landed a position as consultant in Power & Utilities with KPMG in Los Angeles.  Hall says that “The Bard career course provided with the right questions and focus for approaching my career search. It empowered me to shift from blindly submitting resumes online to thoughtfully networking and identifying opportunities at organizations
that resonated with my goals."  

Bard MBA graduates join more than 300 alumni/ae working in the sustainable business and environmental policy fields. If you're still considering, or even not sure how to choose an MBA program, view our Look Book to explore career opportunities and the Alum network. Links to other articles about our graduates career success are here

Do you want to learn more about how you could become a leader in a sustainability focused field? Check out our full resource, How to Become a Leader in Sustainability, today! 
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About the Author

Katie Boyle

Katie Boyle

Katie Boyle is the Enrollment and Marketing Director for the Bard MBA in Sustainability program and Bard Center for Environmental Policy. In this role, she oversees the marketing and brand management for The Impact Report podcast. She also manages recruiting, admissions, and enrollment for both programs as well marketing and advertising campaigns.