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When it comes to sustainability, sometimes you have to look at yourself first.
It's unsustainable not to grow, learn, develop and change. That's true for companies and for human beings—I know it was for me.
When I got laid off from my job as a financial planner at UBS; I decided to go back to school. That's when I knew things had to change.
I looked at the world around me, at how the business landscape were changing, and realized I needed to change too, but in a way that promoted sustainability as a solution for myself and for business.
I signed on for the University of Vermont's (UVM) Sustainable Business Program. When I enrolled, I had 20 years of experience under my belt in business, including public accounting, investing, and financial planning.
I knew that certain habits and practices were unsustainable, so what appealed to me was that I would learn ways of enhancing my business experience and skills in ways that would lead to sustainability.
The education I received opened the floodgates for me.
Suddenly, I was equipped to look at the world from a whole new perspective. What I learned in the program introduced me to leaders in the field, interdisciplinary concepts, and the terminology and language necessary to learn and understand more. [See: 5 Steps for Breaking into CSR & Social Enterprise]
I anticipate that there will be a greater need for people with sustainability knowledge and skills. Our business world needs to change—and we need educated change-makers.
My work at UVM gave me the opportunity to focus my energies on new concepts and learn from leading thinkers from large, international companies like Seventh Generation and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, as well as smaller companies and community-focused organizations.
Today, I'm the proud CFO of Opportunities Credit Union, Vermont's only community development credit union.
Every day, I get to work with people from all walks of life on issues closest to my heart: Financial planning, micro-lending and small business lending.
Through our programs and the role we play in the community, we help build and maintain sustainable communities through financial education and services to the unbanked and underserved while offering a social investment option to other state residents.
Seek out programs that offer a trans-disciplinary perspective – it will give you a holistic, systems-level view on the complexity and importance of an integrated approach to sustainability. It will also show you how sustainability can change lives through a community.
Taking the UVM Sustainable Business Practices course was—literally—a life-changing event for me. At the time I took the course, I was in the middle of figuring out what was next in my career path.
UVM was the tool I needed then at that stage to help me build a sustainable career path for myself and become part of a business I believe in.
--By Tricia Senzel
Tricia Senzel, CPA, is the Chief Financial Officer at Opportunities Credit Union in Vermont. Prior to that, she served as SMARTvt.org's sustainability chief. Senzel has more than 20 years of experience in the financial industries, having worked with UBS Wealth Management, Sentinel Financial Services, and American Express Financial Advisors. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
Learn more about the University of Vermont Sustainable Business Program.
More:Careers in CSR: Powered by Passion, Made Possible by Education
College Spotlight: At UVM, Teaching Sustainability Key for Career Success
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