by Terry Nelidov and Dominique Abed, with Michelle Lin

Terry and Dom met with Laura Flanigan (Erb ‘06), Rosemary Lapka and Michelle Lin (both Erb ‘12)  on a Monday night in August at the  “Little Goat Diner” (Thanks Michelle, for the recommendation!)–a bustling Chicago landmark with a quirky but tasty menu started by Stephanie Izard, a Top Chef winner who is, incidentally, also a U-M grad.  Fortunately, Rosemary came prepared with both U-M and Erb flags (see photos below).

Kicked off in June in San Francisco and followed closely in Boston, New York and Seattle, this was the fifth in our series of  #ErbRoadshows designed to gather feedback on the Institute’s next five-year strategic plan.

Due to the fact that many alums were traveling that week, this was a small group.  And, as in our previous roadshows, a distinctive “Chicago flavor” seasoned the diner discussion!

  • Intrapreneurship and Entrepreneurship: How do we cultivate change agents in global mega corporations as well as the ‘game changers’ needed to redefine the very role of corporations in society? How do we foster creative and innovative thinking and approaches to create disruptive shifts in society?
  • Change Agents: The reality of companies incorporating sustainability throughout the organization is still a fundamental challenge to tackle. People skills, networking, and relationship building are necessary to thrive not only as business leaders, but even more so as sustainability change agents.
  • Sustainability through Consulting: We discussed the importance of understanding the motivations behind pursuing consulting as that can impact the type of consulting to pursue, or whether to even pursue consulting as a career.
  • Dual Internships: The third year and second internship are critical for allowing students the time and the space to explore their own sustainability paths.
  • Lean Sustainability: The shift in some companies’ focus away from sustainability–and the sometimes siloing of sustainability within the company–during hard times toward cost-reduction and core-business activities underlined the need to make sustainability part of that core business model.
  • Positive Business: Many of the issues above relate to Ross’ positive-business strategy. Is there additional opportunity to leverage Ross’ POS leadership to help refine Erb’s unique contribution to sustainability?

Thanks to our Chicago ‘Erbz’ for their participation and support.   Looking forward to seeing them again in Ann Arbor for Erb Returns in October.