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MS Alum Transitions to Sustainable Healthcare

Lindsey Clark
M.S. in Sustainability Management alum Lindsey Clark (’13)

Prior to completing the Master of Science in Sustainability Management program last May, Lindsey Clark (’13) held several finance roles in New York City, including working as a client service associate at Neuberger Berman within the Private Asset Management division, the director of operations at Pergament Advisors, and as an institutional sales associate at Baron Capital. With her background, Lindsey originally joined the program with the intention of going into sustainability consulting after graduation, but an internship with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center led to an unexpected opportunity. Now an energy and sustainability data analyst for Memorial Sloan Kettering, Lindsey works to bring greater sustainability and energy efficiency to the world’s oldest and largest private cancer center.

1. What is your current job?

As the energy and sustainability data analyst for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, I work across the organization to collect, track and measure key environmental data, create proper and robust sustainability metrics to report and benchmark progress, provide innovative sustainability solutions with a focus on energy efficiency, and implement effective communication strategies to encourage employee participation and engagement.

2. Do your current job responsibilities align with the professional goals that you originally had when you began the MS in Sustainability Management program?

Upon entering the program in fall 2011, I had several professional goals in mind with regards to the MSSM program and what I hoped to achieve upon graduation. Coming from a finance background, ideally I wanted to build upon my business experience and enter this field either as a sustainability consultant or within the sustainability department of a corporation.

With that said, in October 2012, I applied for an internship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, one of the world’s most recognized non-profit cancer centers, to gain related experience as I completed the program. It was during this time that I successfully assisted the center in collecting and synthesizing their key environmental data as well as creating better metrics for tracking and reporting.

Upon graduation, the center offered to keep me on full-time by creating the energy and sustainability data analyst position. So while it wasn’t planned prior to beginning this program, I have quickly realized the potential of introducing the healthcare industry to sustainability and look forward to continuing my work with the center.

3. What skills has the MSSM program taught you that you think have proven useful to your current position?

The MSSM program has provided me the understanding of sustainability as a whole – why we’re here, why corporations need to pay attention to this space, and how the environment is significantly compromised unless we seek momentous change. It has also provided me with the ability to articulate this dire need to change organizational processes and how to influence decision makers to support initiatives beyond just energy efficiency that ultimately lead to significant environmental and social impacts.

4. What skills and tools do you hope to acquire through this job?

I look forward to continuing to expand and build upon my knowledge in energy efficiency, renewable energy and the energy market. I also hope to further utilize data to support sustainability initiatives across the organization and gain approval on progressive projects, sustainable and eco-friendly products, and more efficient processes – all with the goal of minimizing the negative impact Memorial Sloan Kettering has on the environment and local community.

In addition, I also hope to join a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) project and become a LEED-accredited professional so that I can effectively assist Sloan Kettering in their goal of achieving LEED status for all their new construction projects. I also aspire to expand my knowledge within this field, and will therefore take advantage of the center’s continuing education program to gain additional certificates, credentials and training opportunities.

5. How has collaborating with your fellow students in class projects benefited you professionally and personally?

It is paramount to work in teams to create change and successfully implement sustainability initiatives and efficiency projects. The MSSM program allowed me to work with a variety of classmates who, while sharing the same passion for sustainability, brought different assets and knowledge to the table. This made for creative problem solving discussions where different perspectives and solutions where presented and required us, as a team, to work together to ultimately decide the best deliverable for the project/client. These class projects – as well as the Capstone – presented “real world” situations that enabled us to prepare and gain direct experience before entering this field upon graduation.

6. What kinds of environmental initiatives do you hope to start in your new position?

Currently I am working with both the Design and Construction team and Facilities Operations as a liaison to ensure all eligible projects are receiving maximum incentives available from programs such as NYSERDA and ConEdison. I hope to continue identifying energy efficiency projects across the organization as well as focus on innovative strategies for water conservation and waste minimization – two areas that healthcare facilities can significantly benefit from as they are historically very large users of water and produce significant amounts of waste.

7. How do you intend to utilize your degree from the MSSM program to further your career?

I have made great friends from the MSSM programs and look forward to continue meeting current students and expanding my professional network. One of the great aspects of this program is the sheer diversity of the student body – you instantly have an amazing network of individuals that share your passion of sustainability but have gone down different paths – from government to non-profits to corporate – to create change in every industry and at all levels. It really is something to be thankful for.

The M.S. in Sustainability Management, co-sponsored by the Earth Institute and Columbia’s School of Continuing Education, trains students to tackle complex and pressing environmental and managerial challenges. The program requires the successful completion of 36 credit points. Those credit points are divided among five comprehensive content areas: integrative sustainability management, economics and quantitative analysis, the physical dimensions of sustainability, the public policy environment of sustainability management, and general and financial management. Visit our website to learn more.    

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Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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