Management Dean Kim Brooks interviews Michelle Adams about today’s relevant research, challenges for new graduates and how alumni can stay engaged

The Faculty of Management has had the good fortune of recruiting outstanding directors to lead each of our four Schools.  Many of you will have met or heard from Michelle Adams, Director of the School for Resource and Environmental Studies (SRES).

In my time with the Faculty I have greatly enjoyed getting to know Michelle and learning from her about our incredible SRES graduates. When we first planned this, I was hoping I could interview Michelle in person over coffee.  How times have changed! Instead, my interview with Michelle was as virtual as your reading of it will be!

Kim:  Michelle, what makes being the director of SRES exciting? 

Michelle: We have developed and maintained an excellent reputation locally, nationally and internationally over the program’s 40+ years. Supporting SRES–to both maintain its role as a change agent and to develop innovative thinkers ready to tackle today’s most “wicked” problems–that is the best part of this role.

Kim: What do you most hope for the graduates of the School’s programs? 

Michelle: That’s easy. I hope they find meaningful roles in society that allow them to follow their passion; that they affect meaningful change in whatever sector or organization they join; and that they are never (or at least not more than temporarily!) discouraged by the challenges we face as a global society.

Kim: What do you think is the biggest challenge for graduates? 

Michelle: Losing sight of the impact they can have. I’ve met many alumni that love what they do but sometimes feel like they aren’t making a difference. It’s important for them to stay connected to colleagues and peers – if for no other reason than to remind them they are part of a bigger community that can affect positive change.

Kim: What are you researching and why does it matter? 

Michelle: My research deals with the intersection of the environment, technology and industry – primarily through the lens of industrial ecology and industrial symbiosis. It is important to fundamentally shift our systems of production and consumption in a manner that is much more resource efficient. The industrial systems we have today—along with the energy systems and supply-chains that they are founded on—were designed for a world with unlimited natural resources that could assimilate infinite amounts of waste. Now we need to figure out how to feed, clothe, house and support a ballooning population with a fraction of the material throughput if we are going to thrive into the future. Continuing to support our current industrial system won’t achieve this—we need a fundamental shift—as dramatic as the Industrial Revolution was two centuries ago.

Kim: How can alumni stay engaged? 

Michelle: Mentor current students, join us on LinkedIn, be willing to give guest lectures, hire our interns. Some of our best internship supporters (read: employers) are former grads. Our office walls are full of pictures of alumni babies, weddings. More than anything we love to brag about our former students. So make sure we have your current contact information and stay in touch.