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Success Stories: Full Essay for Duke Masters!!!

Dan Vermeer, the executive director at Duke’s EDGE Center, once said that we will have to either mitigate, adapt, or suffer from climate change but it is up to us to manage the ratio among these choices. I strongly believe that the opportunity to mitigate climate change and make a difference to businesses, economic development, and environmental sustainability through energy is significant. Back home in the Philippines, I have noticed that traffic, pollution, and energy related issues (brown-outs, water constraints, high cost of produce, etc.) lead to lengthy commutes between short distances, increased damage to respiratory systems, and the inability to perform key household functions. At The Nicholas School, I will have the power to combine my geography training with business management to further environmental sustainability in my home country.

I believe that back at home, where our president makes outrageous claims on not honoring the “stupid” UN climate deal, there is an obligation for businesses to catalyze sustainability practices and show the masses that there does not necessarily have to be a tradeoff between sustainability and industrialization. I hope to use an education to further my long term goal of using businesses as a catalyst for implementing sustainability.

From college to professional experience, I have engaged in activities relevant to Environmental Management. In addition to my business and economics degrees, I also earned a Bachelor’s in Geography, despite continuous protests by family elders that geography was a "useless" major. In Agro-ecology, I enjoyed growing broccoli over a few months and learning how to integrate renewable energy and plant intercropping into urban environments. Other geography classes exposed me to exciting eco-friendly innovations such as alternative energy sources, ideas that I may someday apply in my highly polluted hometown. While my work at EY was mostly finance-related, I learned about the significant role that energy and sustainability played in businesses. Energy markets factor into the volatility of a company’s cost of capital, budgeting and forecasting, and even long-term strategy discussions.

At Nicholas, I hope to concentrate in Energy and Environment (EE) in order to tackle modern challenges of energy sustainability, cost, and reliability. At Nicholas and with Duke’s Energy Initiative, I hope to enroll in the EDGE Seminar on the Energy and Environment, join the Energy in Emerging Markets Case Competition (EMCC), and participate in an energy related FCCP, to broaden my understanding of current and upcoming energy issues. An MEM degree will be beneficial when I return to the Philippines as the country’s prime tropical location in the Pacific ring of fire provides abundant opportunities in geothermal, kinetic windmill, and solar energy.

The Chinese word for crisis – “WeiJi” in pinyin, is composed of two characters – danger and opportunity. While the threat of environmental depletion is a possibility, it also presents the business opportunities that can drive wealth creation fundamentally. Many people think that sustainability is just about saving the world from collapsing. At Nicholas, I can move beyond this short-sighted mindset and actually make the world better.

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