Lisa Veliz ’17

Internship: Pacific Gas & Electric

I needed a business school that would help me pivot into a new career. I have always been very passionate about environmental justice, and I’m particularly interested in working in corporate sustainability and in the energy sector. It’s one of the emerging issues that we’re going to be facing—providing enough energy for the ten billion people who are expected to walk this earth very shortly. There are a lot of students, like me, who pivot at SOM, and the core curriculum gives us a really broad, solid base. Understanding all the elements of how a business is run—and the underlying incentives for sustainability and environmental work—is going to unlock many doors for me.

Leadership skills are something that I’ve made a conscious effort to really hone. I’m a member of several different student groups in very leadership-oriented capacities. I was the executive director of the Environmental Film Festival last year, which was very much a CEO-type role, in that you’re managing different people. There are all these buckets of different information coming at you, and you have to decide how to allocate resources.

I’ve also focused on learning more about operations, which is a natural platform to optimize sustainability practices. Understanding what sustainability looks like from an internal organization perspective is really interesting to me, because all the organizational incentives are very much aligned to do the right thing, as long as your business model permits.

Educating leaders for business and society is one of my own core values. There are so many people in my SOM class who are focused on social impact and working in the public sector, or on working in the private sector for some time and then starting a great initiative to really tackle the biggest issues of the day. It isn’t just about money. It’s about impact. If we can leverage the incredible skill set of the students in my class, and in the class ahead of me and the class behind me, we will be the leaders of the next generation of companies, of nonprofits, of people, and of governments, across society.

Interviewed on October 25, 2016