by Emma Wendt (Former Erb Student and Alumni Affairs Manager)

Set in the lovely home of Priyanka Bandyopadhyay ‘09, our July 21, 2014 Seattle Erb Roadshow was an especially lively and intellectually challenging discussion — what I love best about the Erb community.

Our group included nine alumni, ranging from Class of 2000 to 2014, plus two current students, in town for summer internships. (Huge props to the Seattle crew for 100% attendance among those who registered!) Several of the topics discussed had emerged in other Roadshows, such as the relative importance of technical versus interpersonal skills, as well as particular topical areas like water quality and supply chains.

What stood out to me here, though, was the question around what role Erbers can and should take on as a sustainability change agent. While some had obviously Erb-related jobs, many others were taking a more traditional career path, especially the newer grads — and that’s really ok. To make significant sustainability gains, Erb needs to influence across roles, organizations and sectors. Occasionally, this is as a Chief Sustainability Officer. More likely, it will be by equipping real estate developers with green building technologies or helping logistics companies to radically shift how they deliver products and services.

This conversation has certainly come up over the past few years, but the group in Seattle reminded me that we need to continue to think carefully about how we prepare our students and support our alumni. Spoiler alert: Stay tuned for our very cool, revamped Erb Seminar to be rolled out for our new students in Fall B.

I also thoroughly enjoyed my time outside of the official Roadshow event– especially since I’m a big fan of misty green, dark blue, and grey landscapes and I’ve been missing the ocean while in the Midwest.  Dressed in my Marmot shell, Chaco sandals, and Patagonia skirt I easily passed for a  Seattle resident as I eyed messenger bags made from recycled bike tires (thanks to Graham Brown ’12) and deliberated from which of the 12 independent, fair trade, organic coffee roasters I should purchase beans to bring back to my significant other.  Luckily my meeting with Elizabeth Matzen ’13  helped solidify that decision, thanks Elizabeth –and thanks to all the Erb folk who attended the Seattle #ErbRoadshow including:  Rajat Bhatia, Ben Hamm, Emily Hanning, Caitlin Harren, Kathleen Judd, Eva Owens, Miguel Sossa, Suzanne Sullivan, Becky Taylor, and Sheena VanLeuven. Looking forward to seeing many of you again at Erb Returns!

Emma Wendt, is the Student Affairs Manager at the Erb Institute. She is a 2009 graduate of Stanford University Graduate School of Business (MBA) and the School of Earth Sciences (MS), where she was also co-president of the Environmentally Sustainable Business Club. She also holds an AB in Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard University. Before moving to Ann Arbor, Emma was a senior analyst in emerging clean technologies with Pacific Gas and Electric in San Francisco. You can find Emma on Twitter.