Mason teaches MBA, graduate students about environmentally sustainable operations

five people standing before an orange sign
From left, Hungry CEO Jeff Grass, Jake Henstrom, Mason professor Ioannis Bellos, Sree Kancherla, and Kaleb Lewis. Photo provided

Last month, Sreeratna Kancherla and fellow students at George Mason University gave advice to the CEO of HUNGRY, an Arlington, Virginia-based company, on different ways to reduce HUNGRY’s carbon footprint.

“We suggested they ​explore incentives and partnerships for electric vehicles and for composting, as well as developing emissions mapping tools,” said Kancherla. “It was part of an interesting project where we saw up close what a company faces when trying to become more ​environmentally sustainable and provide them with solutions.”

Kancherla and other students were enrolled in MBA 797 Environmentally Sustainable Operations, an elective class offered by School of Business’s MBA Program. The class was open to MBA students and students pursuing other graduate degrees across campus.  

woman making a presentation
Mason graduate student Sreeratna Kancherla giving her presentation. Photo provided

This semester marks the first time class has been offered in more than five years, according to Ioannis Bellos, director of Mason’s MBA Program, who developed and taught the elective. The class has seven MBA students and three graduate students from other programs, including environmental science and policy at the College of Science. The class, which ended in March, was offered at Mason Square (formerly the Arlington Campus) and will be offered again next spring on Mason’s Fairfax Campus.

“The objective was to offer an experiential course on the intersection of business and sustainability,” said Bellos, who is also an associate professor and dean’s scholar in Information Systems and Operations Management. “We wanted to equip students with the education and information to make the business argument for sustainability, help companies examine their impact on the environment, and offer solutions to reduce their environmental footprint.”

grad student making a presentation
Jake Henstrom. Photo provided

Jake Henstrom, a graduate student in conflict analysis and resolution at the Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, said the class was informative and important for them to take because they want to collaborate with people in the business world on issues of sustainability.

The class enhanced my understanding of the language and thinking of people in the business world,” said Henstrom.

For the main project in the class, students divided into groups to work directly with different companies and offer advice to their leadership on sustainability. Kancherla and Henstrom were part of the team working with HUNGRY, a platform for chefs and food delivery services.

Jeff Grass, HUNGRY’s CEO, said his leadership team was impressed with the quantitative and qualitative analysis from the Mason students in their recommendations for a more effective and comprehensive sustainability strategy.

“At HUNGRY, environmental sustainability is one of our two core pillars in our commitment to community, and the team did a masterful job in helping us take our thinking and plans to the next level,” Grass said.

Kancherla said the class enhanced her understanding of sustainability.

“It’s extremely relevant to what’s happening globally in business right now,” Kancherla said.