S05 EP 07: Thomas Singer, The Conference Board

Transitioning to the Circular Economy: Thomas Singer Profiles Seven Companies Making the Shift

Thomas Singer felt that there was already plenty of good writing about the theory behind the circular economy. So, when he and his Conference Board colleagues thought about what they wanted to contribute to the conversation, they focused on case studies: “real, practical examples of companies that have been involved in these types of initiatives.”

The resulting 2017 report, Business Transformation and the Circular Economy: A Candid Look at Risks and Rewards, profiles the strategies and successes of seven companies at the forefront of the transition to an economy based on recovery, reunse and regeneration.

Bard MBA student Carolyn Pincus spoke recently with Singer about his work and what he learned about why companies like Philips and Waste Management are increasingly pursuing circular economy initiatives.

Thomas Singer is a Principle Researcher in corporate leadership at the Conference Board. His work focuses on CSR and sustainability issues, and he’s the author of numerous other publications, including the comprehensive sustainability benchmarking report, Sustainability Practices.



S05 EP 06: Kim Falkenhayn, Okabashi Shoes

When “Made in America” Means “Made Sustainably”

Currently, fewer than 2% of shoes worn in the United States are made here. Most are
manufactured overseas by a labor force that works in conditions that would not be acceptable for
American workers.
In contrast, Okabashi, a family-owned and operated footwear manufacturer, makes all of its
shoes in America, employing more than 200 people at its factory and headquarters in Buford,
GA. As a result, its flip flops, sandals and clogs travel almost 10,000 fewer miles than the
average imported shoe, substantially reducing their carbon footprint.
The Bard MBA’s Cory Skuldt recently spoke with Kim Falkenhayn, the company’s President,
about the challenges and opportunities presented by Okabashi’s commitment both to local
manufacturing and to closed-loop recycling.


S05 EP 05: Nick Silver, Author & Co-Founder of Climate Bonds Initiative

Using Finance to Shatter the Fossil Fuel Economy

Nick Silver — actuary, economist and onetime mainstream finance professional — understands the consequences of the financial system continuing in its current form. Which is why his new book, "Finance, Society and Sustainability: How to Make the Financial System Work for the Economy, People and Planet," argues that to avoid collateral damage to the economy, society and the environment, we need to re-engineer the system.

Silver is also the managing director of Callund Consulting, a specialist consultancy that advises developing country governments on social insurance. He has advised the U.N., U.K. and EU on carbon markets, climate finance in developing countries and managing risk from climate change. 

Bard MBA faculty member Kathy Hipple spoke recently with Silver about his background in finance and how it led him to write his book. Their conversation explores both the book and Silver's work with Climate Bonds Initiative, which Silver co-founded to mobilize the $100 trillion bond market for climate change solutions.


S05 EP 04: Rebecca Hamilton, W.S. Badger Co.

Bard MBA graduates Sam Levine and Alex FitzGerald spoke recently with Rebecca Hamilton about Badger’s business model and how it goes beyond the B Corps standard. Hamilton is a co-owner and the vice president of research and development at Badger, where she sources new raw materials and oversees the sustainability and quality of Badger’s supply chain, among other responsibilities. She is also involved in safe cosmetics legislation and toxic chemical reform and has served as the chair of the Natural Products Association National Personal Care Steering Committee.

As of January, there were 1,000 certified B Corps — companies certified by the B Lab, a nonprofit, to create social and environmental benefits — in the U.S. alone. This number is even more impressive when you realize that fewer than two years ago, there were only 1,000 B Corps worldwide.

Badger, a family-owned, mission-driven certified B Corp company nestled in the woods of Gilsum, New Hampshire, exemplifies and extends the B Corps model. The company was started by Bill Whyte in 1995 when, as a carpenter working in the cold New Hampshire winters, he created a balm that helped his cracked hands. The company has grown to over 100 personal care products and 60 employees.

Honored this year as a "Best for the World" and "Best for the Environment" B Corp, Badger scored in the top 10 percent of all businesses on the B Impact Assessment, the gold standard of corporate responsibility metrics.



S05 EP 03: Kevin Rabinovitch, Mars Inc.

In September, Mars unveiled its Sustainable in a Generation plan, which sets a new standard for its responsible growth as a business. Mars believes that transformational, cross-industry collaboration is required to fix the extended global supply chain, and the plan leads the way by investing $1 billion to tackle threats such as climate change, poverty in its value chain and resource scarcity.

The private, family-owned brand has been in business for over a century and sells its products in nearly every corner of the globe. Its six businesses — from chocolate to pet products — reach billions of consumers and earn more than $35 billion in global sales.

Bard MBA student Alistair Hall talked with Mars’s Kevin Rabinovitch shortly after the launch of Sustainable in a Generation about the plan and how it evolved.

Rabinovitch, Mars’s global sustainability director and chief climate officer, was instrumental in developing the plan. His team manages a global portfolio of renewable energy projects in conjunction with efficiency work led by the business units. He also leads the assessment of environmental impact for Mars’s value chain and the translation of external environmental science into policy and strategy for the business.


S05 EP 02: Alice Bosley & Patricia Letayf, Five One Labs

Helping Refugees & Conflict-Affected Entrepreneurs Launch & Grow Their Businesses in the Middle East: Alice Bosley & Patricia Letayf of Five One Labs.

What do you think when you hear the word refugee? For Alice Bosley and Patricia Letayf, Co-Founders of Five One Labs, it makes them think of innovation, passion, creativity and grit. Since the war began in Syria in 2011, nearly five million Syrian refugees have been displaced across the Middle East and Europe. Five One Labs has launched a startup incubator in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to help some of the 250,000 Syrian refugees and over 1 million Iraqi refugees in the area rebuild their lives and livelihoods. The program is designed to provide training, mentorship, inclusive communities, and support to build businesses. The name “Five One” comes from the 1951 Refugee Convention that gives refugees the right to work. Their incubator will empower young men and women from displaced and host communities in starting scalable, innovative businesses - benefiting the entrepreneurs while also strengthening the local economy through training, mentorship and community building.

Five One Labs first cohort is scheduled to begin this October in Erbil, Iraq and they are crowdfunding with a matching grant from the Tent Foundation via Indiegogo https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/five-one-labs-startup-incubator-for-refugees-entrepreneurship#/



S05 EP 01: Sherry Youssef Younes & Alejandro Crawford

The Democratization of Entrepreneurship: Sherry Youssef Younes & Alejandro Crawford

With a surge in the growth of the youth population worldwide there is, and will continue to be, a job shortage. The solution to this is self-employment or entrepreneurship but access to entrepreneurship is not keeping up and we may face a lost generation of job creators.  Enter Sherry Youssef Younes and Alejandro Crawford both working to democratize entrepreneurship by using technology and breaking open access points that are typically closed to budding  entrepreneurs outside of well-established networks.

Sherry Youssef Younes is a Youth, Workforce Development, ICT4Development and Women's Economic Empowerment Consultant with over 23 years experience in international economic development programme design, development and management.  Alejandro Crawford’s mission is to expand access to the knowledge, space and alliance innovators require to bring new solutions to market and scale them. As a consultant, he is is managing director of Acceleration Group, where he works with the leaders of companies, governments, universities, investors, and NGOs to to harness the potential of disruptive leaders to remake our economy.




S04 EP 16: Rebekah Moses of Impossible Foods

Impossible Foods cooks up a new paradigm for the food system

Animal protein consumption is rising worldwide. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Association estimates that the raising of livestock for meat and dairy products contributes to 14.5 percent of human-induced GHG emissions. Meat and dairy production is also heavily resource-intensive, with 30 percent of the world’s land surface used for this purpose — a landmass larger than North and South America, Europe and Australia combined.

In March, Bard MBA students spoke with Rebekah Moses, sustainability and agriculture manager of Impossible Foods, to learn about the company's unique approach to reducing the impact of livestock food products. Moses shared the story of the company’s founder, a long-time academic, and other researchers who are taking solutions out of the lab and into the market.


S04 EP 15: Karen Overton of Recycle-A-Bicycle

Recycle-A-Bicycle: Fostering Job Training, Environmental Education, and Community Engagement


On average, New York City’s Recycle-A-Bicycle salvages 1,800 bicycles each year from the waste stream, diverting a total of 45,000 pounds of waste from the city’s landfills.

In the past year alone, more than 1000 Recycle-A-Bicycle youth collectively refurbished 500 bicycles, pedaled 24,000 miles, and burned 1,750,000 calories.

Recycle-A-Bicycle recycles the metal from donated bikes that are too damaged to use—literally 12,000 of aluminum and steel each year.

The person behind these impressive numbers, Recycle-A-Bicycle Founder and Executive Director Karen Overton, talked recently with the Bard MBA’s Meghan Altman about the organization’s growth and vision.  

Overton began her bicycle advocacy career in Mozambique as a planner for Bikes for Africa. When she returned to the US, she took a position with Transportation Alternatives in New York City. That’s where she was when the city’s Department of Sanitation called, looking for a productive way to use the discarded bikes it dealt with daily. Recycle-A-Bicycle was born.

Today, the non-profit is dedicated to the health, development, stewardship and empowerment of NYC youth. It operates innovative youth programs like its Summer Youth Employment Program, Cycle Craft, and Earn-A-Bike. It also runs two storefronts, an education center, and seventeen school-based programs.


Listen to this interview and others on the Bard MBA Sustainable Business Fridays podcast on an Apple or Android device.


S04 EP 14: Jon Meyersohn of “Years of Living Dangerously”

How Years of Living Dangerously Communicates the Urgency of Climate Change

“Climate change isn’t stopping with the second season”—that’s Jon Meyersohn, co-executive producer of the Emmy-award winning Years of Living Dangerously, on why he hopes the series extends to a third season.

Meyersohn is a journalist and producer with a thirty-year career spanning print, radio and television. As co-executive producer of the second season of Years of Living Dangerously, he worked closely with the two founding executive producers and senior staff to provide a sweeping narrative look at some of the most urgent climate change problems threatening the planet.

In an interview with the Bard MBA’s Katie Ellman, Meyersohn provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how the team decided which topics to feature, who originated the idea of celebrity correspondents, and why the show’s social media presence is so powerful.

Sustainable Business Fridays brings together students in Bard’s MBA in Sustainability program with leaders in business, sustainability and social entrepreneurship.

Listen to this interview and others on the Bard MBA Sustainable Business Fridays podcast on an Apple or Android device.