I can hardly believe that the summer internship ended, two weeks of vaca, and voila! back to the books. The summer rounded out really well. I gained an invaluable insight into how a medium sized ($350m) company balances buying quality inputs (fruits and sugar) with an affordable price and sustainability targets in mind. The Sourcing and Supplier Development Team (where I was based) did a good job exposing me to trainings and methodologies that leading companies use when they make purchasing decisions. And in addition to the learning, I feel like in just 10 short weeks I was able to make a solid contribution to Stonyfield's ability to truly track the social and environmental impact of its food purchases. I applied my background in social justice and fair trade to help develop sourcing values/principles, impact criteria, and make decisions on the management tools that will help them get there. And got a whole lotta yummy, free yogurt!
Meanwhile, I've been able to organize my classes this semester around two start-up social enterprises that I'm working on. Even though just one of my classes directly focused on sustainability, I am using class projects to further work in the arena. For example, I spent the weekend interviewing two Mexican women about their cleaning habits and preferences for Listening to the Customer. Otto Scharmer's Profound Innovation course has pushed me into a 'radical listening' zone which I hope will allow me to empathize more deeply with the communities where we are collaborating on these enterprises. And Development Ventures is entirely focused on building a collaborative team of engineers, designers, and b-school students that can launch a social enterprise (in this case focused on fair food in Paraguay), taking advantage of MIT's many resources such as the 100K and the Yunus Challenge.
Lastly, MITFAC is rockin out! We held a big kick off event last week where we hosted Santiago Paz, a very articulate and impactful coffee cooperative manager from Peru. He talked to us about the difference that fair trade has made for his community as they've formed a niche for themselves in specialty markets, and the deep challenges that still remain. We're holding our semester kick-off meeting this week, are launching a new advisory board of distinguished MIT professors, and will hold a semester long speakers series.
So life is busy as usual around Sloan, always inspiring and with so much to look forward to.