Current Master of Science in Sustainability Management student Jocelyn Gan is a programs associate at Building Energy Exchange. In this role, Jocelyn manages the Daylight Hour social media campaign, an annual event that encourages offices to turn off the lights for one hour in day-lit spaces. The campaign raises awareness about using daylight to reduce energy consumption and improve the environmental performance of commercial space. Jocelyn is taking advantage of the program’s curriculum to focus her studies on operations and supply chain management, as she prepares for a career in corporate sustainability.
1. What is your current job and what are the responsibilities associated with your position?
I’m the programs associate at the Building Energy Exchange (BEEx), an energy efficiency resource center in downtown Manhattan. We provide education to building stakeholders through exhibits, resources, and events. I organize and develop engaging events about energy efficiency that showcases innovative projects and industry‐leading professionals. At BEEx, I also co‐founded WISE – Women in Sustainability and Energy. It’s a program series featuring women leaders who accelerate and pioneer sustainability programs and energy agendas. In addition, I get to work on a variety of other projects such as website design and communications.
2. What drew you to the Masters of Science in Sustainability Management program?
I first heard about the program when I was applying for jobs and internships after graduation. When I met with other professionals and even with my interviewers, I was constantly hearing about this program. Many people I met who were working on projects I found intriguing were graduates of this program. In addition, the program’s flexibility of courses and for part-time students was very important to me. There aren’t many programs that allow you to shape your higher education to meet your career goals – not to mention having working professionals as your professors.
3. What inspired you to work in sustainability?
I’ve always been interested in environmental conservation and originally focused on field research, which was very scientific. There was an elective that I took, Energy Systems, as an undergraduate that shifted my focus towards urban issues and energy landscapes. I now want my career to focus on initiatives that directly impact climate change. Sustainability is a practice gaining popularity and is now seen as a priority for many companies and cities. The idea of being part of an innovative industry drew me closer to pursuing sustainability work.
4. What has been your greatest accomplishment associated with sustainability in your current position?
I manage BEEx’s annual social media campaign called Daylight Hour. This campaign raises awareness about using natural daylight in lieu of electric lighting in offices to lower their environmental footprint. Participating offices turn off their lights for one hour and post their involvement on social media, showcasing their environmental commitment. I played an active role is getting this campaign off the ground. Just two years in, the Daylight Hour campaign expanded and includes over 300 participating offices, reaching nearly 6 million on social media in over 14 countries. Engaging more offices to join this new campaign and seeing it grow is truly fulfilling.
5. What is an example of how you have applied something specific you have learned in this program thus far to your job?
Every professor I’ve had has stressed the importance of using the right language and approach when speaking to different audiences. We refined this communication skill by practicing it in our memos and presentations. We must always ask ourselves how our initiative or recommendation is impacting the target audience and how to make it relevant. I’m making a habit to approach tasks with this perspective, like when I assist with an exhibit design or when I develop an outreach plan for Daylight Hour.
6. How do you intend to utilize your degree from the MSSM program in furthering your career?
I’d like to work in the private sector and manage sustainability initiatives in operations or throughout the supply chain. I’m crafting my courses to give me the knowledge and technical skills to understand these aspects, and to effectively engage and manage teams.
7. What tips do you have for your fellow students who are looking for a job in sustainability?
Go out and network! You should attend both formal and informal events to engage with working professionals. You’ll probably find familiar faces after attending a few events. There are plenty of groups in NYC that meet on a regular basis, like GreenDrinksNYC or GreenHomeNYC. Plus the attendees are always a fun crowd.
8. What do you think is the most beneficial aspect of the MSSM program with regard to your career?
The alumni and faculty network includes people that I’ll probably work and collaborate with throughout my career. It’s a rare opportunity to engage with peers in a school environment.
9. Beyond the classroom, what extracurricular sustainability related activities have you engaged in with your fellow Sustainability Management students?
This semester, I wanted to be more active in school and joined SUMASA, our student association. As the VP of Events, I help develop panels and networking opportunities about sustainability. I also plan on attending more weekend events and trainings organized by Columbia University.
10. How has collaborating with your fellow students in projects in the classroom benefited you professionally and personally?
The projects we work on in class are not only based on real issues we might tackle in a job, but mimic the real world in terms of diversity as well. There’s an interesting friction when you work with people that have a different background than yours. Collaborating with them introduces you to the different languages industries speak in. It’s been very enjoyable to meet and work with professionals from all over the world.
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.