New York to Boston: Oh what a difference 212 miles can make!

by Dominique Abed (Former Marketing and Communications Manager) and Terry Nelidov

On Wednesday, June 25  Mindy Casseres Gomes and Environmental Resources Management served as our gracious hosts at ERM’s beautiful Boston office high atop Beacon Hill. Other participants included Erb alumni Tony Gross, James Aaron, Elizabeth Terry, and guest Rebecca Wilkinson (Assistant VP Corporate Communications in Sustainability, State Street).

Mindy kicked off the discussion with her view that there is now, finally, a clear and pressing need to shift the value-chain perspective upstream by influencing management. The discussion quickly followed suit.  It’s hard to know if the more intimate lunch-time setting contributed to the depth of the Boston discussion, but  conversations were animated and ideas sometimes surprising.

In comparison with New York and San Francisco, Boston themes were more heavily influenced by the quest for thought leadership and the need to work within the Erb’s “sphere of influence,” that is, to concentrate efforts on those areas on which Erb has more immediate influence as an institute, in addition to Ross, SNRE and U-M at large.

Supply chains, climate change, and risk management were cited as important opportunities for sustainability innovation and growth.  Social sustainability issues including human rights in the supply chain, inclusion and equality, and consumer engagement were also top of mind for these Bostonians. As the word cloud suggests, concerns with technology, data, and coding seemed  muted compared to SF and NY.

Our extended lunch time passed quickly and Dom was soon off to the airport for Ann Arbor.  Terry stayed on and met later in the day with the Environmental Defense Fund to strengthen our partnership, particularly Erb participation in EDF’s  Climate Corps each year. He then stayed the rest of the week to join the Network for Business Sustainability’s annual “Sustainability Centres Workshop” at Harvard Business School, which brought together participants from some 50 sustainability institutes from universities representing 20 countries globally. The three-day workshop focused on sharing tools, approaches and experiences among the institutes to improve sustainability research, teaching, and outreach.

We’ll be following up soon with news from the Erb Alumni Roadshow in Seattle. Terry, Emma, and Dom are looking forward to visiting Chicago next month, followed this fall by our Ann Arbor Road Show.

We’ll keep you posted.  And please, let us know what’s on your mind by commenting below on this or previous road-show posts, or by dropping us an email or jumping on the phone!

-Terry and Dom