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Waikato Sustainability Graduates Land Top Jobs

March 19, 2012

It’s official: Saving the planet can boost your career.

Students who’ve taken Waikato Management School’s graduate-level sustainability paper are popping up all over the world in jobs with corporations that want to become more environmentally and community friendly.

Joe de Jong graduated last year and is now working in Stuttgart, Germany, for PE International, where he gets to put into practice everything he learned from the Strategies for Sustainability paper (STMG 580).

PE International is the international market leader in strategic consultancy, software solutions and extensive services in the field of sustainability. De Jong currently works as an analyst developing sustainability solutions for corporate clients worldwide. “I am primarily in a team using the SoFi software platform, a corporate carbon footprinting tool,” he says.

De Jong sees a direct connection between his sustainability studies and the work he is now doing for Fortune 500 and Global 200 companies. “The strategic and product sustainability consulting arena is growing in demand, which means companies are always on the lookout for graduates who ‘get’ sustainability,” De Jong says.

“Executives at PE International have told me that they would be interested to hear from more Waikato Management School graduates with a world-class knowledge of sustainability.”

Other STMG 580 graduates have also found their sustainability skills in demand.

Paulien de Haes now works as a consultant at KPMG’s Climate Change & Sustainability practice in the Netherlands, while Trent Bos took a "mainstream” job with beverage and food giant Lion in Australia. When his employers found out that he had taken a sustainability paper, they asked him to be part of the team that put together Lion Nathan's sustainability strategy, with a multi million dollar budget. Bos has also just been named Youth Ambassador for Australia to the United Nations, and in that role will be attending the Earth Summit in Rio in June this year.

Waikato’s STMG 580 paper is taught by Associate Professor Eva Collins. “I’ve had several former students tell me that they changed career paths and decided to pursue a sustainability-related job or implement sustainability strategies in ‘mainstream’ companies because of this course,” she says.

One key element of the paper is the fieldtrips – students learn firsthand from windfarm managers, sustainable farmers and local ecopreneurs about how to implement sustainability strategies.

As a networking opportunity, the class goes to the annual Sustainable Business Network Forum, held in Auckland and sponsored by Waikato Management School. The response, says Dr Collins, has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Students tell me that the SBN Forum offers an insight into the real-life application of sustainability principles and concepts in different businesses," she says. “I regularly hear from students they took more out of the field trips than any test or assignment.”

This year’s SBN Forum, Creating Sustainable Wealth, will be held on March 29 (, and Dr Collins is looking forward to bringing along her latest batch of STMG 580 students.

“In a tight job market, the key to landing that ideal job is to stand out from the crowd. Our focus on sustainability gives our graduates an edge,” she says. “We tell them they can get paid and save the planet too.”


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