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What is a Sustainable MBA? Experience of a Presidio Graduate

Contributed by Presidio Garduate School's MBA program in Sustainable Management.

When it comes to continuing your education, choosing the right school is everything. It is important to make sure that the school you attend aligns with your goals, values and lifestyle. It’s not just about the classes, but what else a program can offer you. The best source of this information is current students, past students and faculty. In this series of blog posts, we interviewed several students, alumni and professors in order to give you the best idea of what Presidio Graduate School offers. To kick off this series, we recently spoke with Presidio Alumni Matt Sonefeldt, a Los Angeles native who now works for LinkedIn, a popular social media site.

Interviewer: Please give us a brief description of your background (Where you’re from, where you did your undergrad, work experience).

Matt Sonefeldt: I did my undergraduate at UCLA and studied communications and education. After a few years I found myself doing investment research for a mutual fund company. Later I joined Americorps, which led me to teaching on an Indian reservation. Through all these experiences I found that I wanted my work to have a more positive impact and decided that my next step was to get an MBA. Because of my values to make a social impact, I decided that a non-traditional MBA was the best fit for me.

Interviewer: What was your favorite part of the entire program?

MS: Two of my favorite things I really enjoyed about the program:

1)     It stripped out rationalizing; the community and professors challenged you to think , “What should I be doing with my life?”

2)     You don’t just graduate in a class, you join a lifelong community of people who share your passions and values.

Interviewer: What kind of involvement did you have in your time at Presidio (i.e. student organizations)?

MS: A few classmates and I got together and started a social venture finance club. We talked about issues in the venture community. We helped current students and alumni who had businesses or were involved entrepreneurial ventures – and it’d go through a mock vetting process like you would do when you would pitch a plan to a VC.  

Interviewer: What are the professors at Presidio like?

MS: The great thing about the professors at Presidio is that they are professionals at the same time. They bring in real-world experience. The program is built on passion, not just from the students, but the professors as well. They choose to teach at Presidio because they are passionate about the subject matter. It is this passion that makes for lively discussion, deep interactions and healthy respect among students and teachers.

Interviewer: What was your favorite project to work on?

MS: A group that I was a part of worked on an expansion model for a local restaurant which included making plans for a remodel of the original locations as well as the opening of a second. My favorite part was that there is a community built around this restaurant. It’s a real mom and pop place that has stayed in the family and has incorporated the staff and community into that family.

Interviewer: What has been your experience attending a school in San Francisco?

MS: San Francisco has a unique urban feel. It is a “real city” where people work and live in the same area; it’s different compared to L.A. It is a city centered on entrepreneurship. San Francisco has access to all the themes Presidio focuses on, which makes it the hub for sustainability and CSR.

Interviewer: Where do you see sustainability in 10 years?

MS: I want to see sustainability become embedded in companies. I want companies to be constantly aware of touching people and choose the pro-active high-ground because “it’s the right thing to do.” 

Thanks, Matt for contributing to Keen For Green. Stay tuned for more discussions with students, past and present, and faculty of Presidio Graduate School.