For Cam Hotto, co-founding the UB School of Management’s only student organization focused on sustainability is the culmination of many life experiences.
Growing up outside of Rochester, Hotto, a senior business administration major, observed how suburban sprawl eliminated many open spaces within his rural community. Today, near his family’s Lake Ontario cottage, fish are harder to find, and plastics and other debris often litter the beach.
“I saw how my actions could directly affect the surrounding ecology,” Hotto says. “Now, I want to be part of the solution. Everything I’ve done here at UB has been focused on either renewable energy or sustainability—and that’s really where I want to align my career path.”
Last year, alongside fellow School of Management undergrad Max Schynoll, Hotto created the UB Sustainable Business Association (SBA), a student club that aims to educate members of the UB community about the importance of sustainability in the business world.
“Many companies today are taking climate change and sustainability seriously,” Hotto says. “And, as the issue has exploded over the past few years, we noticed many students were interested in it as well.”
While other UB student clubs address sustainability, none look at the issue through the business world—where market shifts, consumer demand and the growing climate crisis have transformed sustainability from a public relations exercise into a key pillar of strategy and operations for many organizations.
“Companies absolutely realize these trends are happening, and if they’re not adjusting to them, they’re not going to last,” says Robert Siegel, a junior studying business administration, who serves as vice president of SBA. “One of the biggest things I picked up from a lot of our speakers is that individuals in the market are really pushing this trend—not government bodies.”
As organizations recognize the imperative of sustainability, that shift is creating career opportunities for like-minded students. This spring, for example, Hotto is completing a business development internship at thinkPARALLAX, a strategy and communications agency that specializes in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Meanwhile, Siegel is an impact investing intern at FLIT Invest, a fintech startup that helps users make a positive environmental and social impact with their investments.
“Sustainability can really be implemented into all different areas of business,” Hotto says. “Having professionals speak to our club and break down where you can take your sustainability career has been really helpful.”
So far, SBA has hosted an array of speakers, both in person and virtually, including Ryan McPherson, chief sustainability officer at UB; Justin Imiola, BS/BA ’15, sustainability consultant at Anthesis Group; and Amanda Pike, head of operations at thinkPARALLAX.
To reach more students, SBA often partners with other student organizations in the School of Management and across campus, too. This spring, for example, SBA and UB DECA organized a virtual presentation by John Pacilio, ESG data and solutions lead at KPMG.
“As a club, our motto is ‘communicating the viability of sustainable business’ — to spread the word, build connections with professionals and show students how they can get involved,” says Sophia Mesler, a first-year business student and the club’s vice president of marketing. “Sustainability isn't going away. In fact, it’s only going to become more important.”
For more information and to connect with the UB Sustainable Business Association, visit the club on LinkedIn.