Tag Archives: environment

Competing With Engineers for a Sustainable World

A couple of months ago, we all received an invitation to compete in BASF’s Team Chemistry challenge. A fellow MPA student decided to formTexas-mascot a group, and so I joined. It seemed like a fun project – come up with ideas to lessen the environmental impact of football gameday. I love football gameday and I have an interest in environmental sustainability, so it was like a match made in heaven. Of course, the incentive of winning a bunch of money didn’t hurt.

So, we set to work coming up with ideas on how to approach the problem.  We easily came up with a host of small solutions that would have some impact, but quickly got bogged down in the details. After spending some more time pondering our work, we decided to focus on a group  of related solutions and hone in on them.  As Joel said in his most recent article about accountants being risk-averse, we learned from our initial mistakes, found the proper balance, and ended up with some pretty cool ideas.

We were invited to a couple of events by BASF and the Athletic Department to learn more about the initiative and the goals of the competition. One event was a sustainability panel sponsored by UT Engineers for a Sustainable World. The panel was entirely made up of engineers and the audience was entirely engineers … except two of us MPA students. It was very intimidating hearing about them discussing various polymers of which we had no clue of their existence much less their properties. Apparently these students have a big advantage over us with their knowledge of chemicals, considering BASF is essentially a chemical company. The next event was a stadium tour, during which our guides told us about their issues with waste management. Their focus seemed to be only on waste management problems, while our solutions did little to address that.

ConcoursePoster_#2_Sec120But, we pressed on, confident in the power of our ideas despite not having the technical knowledge that is certainly common among our competition. What we do have is a business ingenuity that enabled us to come up with feasible solutions that are easily implemented and have a measurable impact. We used the skills we have learned in economics, finance, and accounting to estimate the results of our proposals. We also used our branding and presentation skills to develop a persuasive format through which to deliver our proposal.

We find out Friday if we are invited to the finalist round, where we will present and defend our ideas in a “shark tank” environment. We’ve had fun putting it all together, and we’re proud of our accomplishments, but it would be great to get to write a “Part II” to this article about our preparation for the finalist round!


Thankful for Home

Thanksgiving brought a busy half week of engaging with family and avoiding anything explicitly school related. I returned to Austin late Saturday night, woke up Sunday and went to Starbucks to begin my last tax research memo!! As I turned on my computer and logged onto the Starbucks page, I found a fascinating video entitled Ripe for Change.

Since I am an expert procrastinator, the topic of anything but tax research caught my eye. Since I am from California, this topic of food production hits close to home. And as we just finished celebrating Thanksgiving, food seemed to be an appropriate topic. Watching the video, I found that the issues it addresses within the food industry are highly relevant to us as accountants.

One such issue is regulation. The tensions between the need for regulation and its burden have been prevalent recently, and are particularly relevant in the financial industry that many of us will enter from the MPA program.

In the documentary as multiple farmers comment on the same trend, for example mechanical picking, we see that there is not always a clear cut way to respond to the availability of new technology or situations; we even see that sometimes the alleged problem is not as obvious as it seems. Continue reading Thankful for Home