Update from Vancouver

June 29, 2009

It’s been four weeks, and already I feel a keens sense of the common enthusiasm that’s been building towards Canada Day, with an inaugural fireworks display over the Vancouver bay – best to be watched by slow boat cruise with friends, of course. This summer holiday holds something special for British Columbia, as the northern province is also marking 8 months until the 2010 Olympics. Working with the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games (or VANOC, which makes business cards significantly more concise) has been an enlivening experience, something of a very large not-for-profit which feels like a for-profit corporation and wedding planning service rolled into one. On June 3rd, VANOC arranged the first Carbon Sponsor in Olympic history (see the announcement here: http://www.offsetters.ca/?q=news/offsetters). I work with a small team of dedicated eco-gurus, where part of my responsibility is forecasting and analyzing the base carbon footprint produced by hosting an Olympic-sized event. There may be an abundance of job opportunities for environmental-minded MBAs, yet the reality is companies are chronically over-tasked and under-staffed for these positions, in part because of the uncertain nature of new business challenges. Case in point: negotiating a sponsor agreement and measuring performance against carbon reductions. Taking a cue from school, resourcefulness has been key. Understanding branding rights is critical one day; knowing the common legal boundary between levels of corporate sponsors the next. I’ve posted some running blog commentaries on translating Olympic sustainability into large event planning in general. Check www.yalesustainability.wordpress.com for the latest.

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Leif Linden