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Annual ClimateCAP MBA Summit Convenes at Michigan Ross

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Michigan Ross hosted the fourth annual ClimateCAP: The Global MBA Summit on Climate, Capital, & Business, bringing together MBA students, business school professors, and leading climate and business experts from around the world to discuss the business implications of climate change. This year’s conference, which took place February 9th and 10th, had sold out in three hours.

From the Center for Energy, Development and the Global Environment (EDGE) at Duke Fuqua, Jessica Wingert, Associate Director and Program Lead of the ClimateCAP Initiative remarks, “ClimateCAP is grateful to the student and faculty planning team from both Michigan Ross and Erb Institute. This year’s Summit was our largest yet, with an incredible line-up of speakers, sponsors, and over 400 student attendees. The ClimateCAP Summit is a unique opportunity for MBAs to gather, learn, and discuss the business implications of climate change.”

Over 400 students attended the 2024 ClimateCAP event at Michigan Ross.

Under the theme “Sustainability in Motion,” the summit underscored the urgency of addressing the climate crisis and calls for actionable solutions. As the ClimateCAP Initiative reports, global climate change effects are projected to reach $700 billion annually by 2030, with trillions of dollars of coastal, urban, and agricultural assets at risk. Organized by Michigan Ross students, this year’s summit featured discussions on various topics including the future of mobility, greenwashing, and regenerative food systems. Attendees heard from industry leaders representing companies like Amazon, Chevron, and NextEra Energy, who shared their perspectives on mitigating climate risks, fostering innovation, and driving sustainability across business ecosystems. A noteworthy addition to this year’s summit included a panel of young professionals who graduated with MBAs three to five years ago and are actively engaged in climate-related roles. The summit also hosted a roundtable discussion on climate and business education featuring Stuart Hart and Sharon Matusik of Michigan Ross, Ann Harrison from Berkeley Haas and Andrew Karolyi from Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. Additionally, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist delivered closing remarks at the summit’s dinner.

The MBA Student Experience

To get a better idea about what it was like to attend the conference, we gathered insights from some MBA students who took part: Sarah Cohen, Michigan Ross MBA candidate and co-chair of ClimateCAP; Laura McComb, Georgia Tech Scheller MBA student and ClimateCAP Fellow; and Kyla Harrison, Chicago Booth MBA student and ClimateCAP Fellow.

1. What did you think of the ClimateCAP summit? Can you sum up your experience?

Sarah Cohen

Sarah Cohen: “I was incredibly proud to host this year’s ClimateCAP summit. It was amazing to bring 406 students from 39 MBA programs together for 2 days to discuss our generation’s biggest challenge – climate change. While this problem must be tackled from different angles, I was particularly struck by the diverse set of interests the attendees came with. I met students interested in everything from energy, agriculture, mobility, non-profits, the public sector, and more. It was inspiring to see so many people passionate about the same problem and excited about so many different ways to solve it.”

Laura McComb

Laura McComb: “The ClimateCAP Summit provided a one-of-a-kind chance to gather with like-minded MBA’s from across the country. The breadth and depth of knowledge at the summit reflected the enormous scale of sustainability and it was inspiring to see how many brilliant individuals are committed to finding climate solutions.”

Kyla Harrison

Kyla Harrison: “In my opinion, the 2024 ClimateCAP Summit was a transformative and necessary experience for any MBAs interested in climate change and/or sustainability. Friday’s sessions highlighted key speakers across energy, real estate, and climate equity & justice. The second day offered a ‘choose your own adventure’ path where we could attend a range of sessions depending on our interests. I attended a session on Corporate Political Responsibility, a term I wasn’t super familiar with prior to the conference, that was particularly insightful and engaging. The conference concluded at Michigan’s iconic stadium with dinner, drinks, and an inspiring message from Michigan’s Lt. Governor encouraging us all to pursue a stint in public service. Overall, I’d say the summit was the perfect mix of work, play, learning, and networking.”

2. What was your favorite part of the event?

Sarah Cohen: “There were so many amazing moments throughout the weekend, it’s hard to pick just one. I was inspired by a few of our speakers in the renewable energy space and the scale that they are operating at. It made me hopeful that real change is coming. We also hosted a happy hour on Friday night, and created ‘table topics’ to help students find others who shared their interests. We expected the event to last for an hour, two max. Instead, people stayed much longer engaging in deep conversations with each other, and I’m happy we were able to create a great space for that.”

Laura McComb: “My favorite part of the ClimateCAP Summit was the interactive ESG data workshop. The workshop was divided into three hands-on exercises: evaluating ESG data sources, analyzing ETFs, and crafting our own ESG portfolio. It was thought-provoking and provided great insights into ESG ratings and the criteria for an ESG fund.”

Kyla Harrison: “My favorite part of the event was meeting other like-minded MBA students who share my values regarding sustainability and climate change. It was super helpful to connect with other folks recruiting for similar internships and pursuing careers in industries that I’m interested in. Through my conversations, I not only felt less alone making sense of this rapidly evolving environment, but formed friendships that I hope will continue through the duration of my MBA and beyond.”

3. Why would you recommend the summit to another MBA student?

Sarah Cohen: “The ClimateCAP summit is important for any MBA who hopes to make a climate impact in their career. It is currently well attended by students who are planning to primarily focus on climate in their careers. In the future, I would love to see more students attend who want to make an impact but maybe don’t know as much about how. It is a fantastic space for students to connect with each other, learn about what other schools are doing in this space, grow their network, and leave with a deeper understanding of the business impacts of climate change.”

Laura McComb: “I would recommend the ClimateCAP Summit to any MBA student. For students looking for a sustainability role the networking and insights from panelists will clearly benefit them. However, every MBA student could have their work impacted by ESG and climate change. The ClimateCAP summit is a great way for them to supplement the traditional MBA curriculum and walk away with insights that will help them mitigate climate risk in the future.”

Kyla Harrison: “The ClimateCAP summit is a phenomenal, student-run conference that is value additive whether your goal is to learn, recruit, network, or just be in community with other climate nerds.”

The ClimateCAP Initiative is managed by Duke Fuqua. The 2025 ClimateCAP summit is slated to be hosted by Berkeley Haas.

See more about the 2024 ClimateCAP MBA Summit here.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.