Justin Bean ’04 graduated from the University of Oregon with a BS in sociology and a double minor in business administration and economics. Bean went on to receive his MBA in sustainable management from Presidio Graduate School. He is currently the global director of smart spaces marketing at Hitachi Vantara and has continued to maintain connections with the Lundquist College and its Center for Sustainable Business Practices. MBA students in the winter 2021 sustainable business seminar had the opportunity to virtually get to know Bean and learn more about Hitachi Vantara.
What skills did you acquire as a UO student that have helped you most in your professional career?
My professors taught through a lens that put human impact at the center of our discussions. They covered not only the negative side effects of our species' activities, but also how we can evolve our thinking, policies, and businesses to reduce negative impacts and ideally help humanity and the environment we all depend on to thrive. Learning how different disciplines connect and can be used to complement each other was invaluable.
What does the work you’re currently doing look like?
I'm the global director of smart spaces marketing at Hitachi Vantara. My team is working to improve health and safety, efficiency and sustainability, and customer experience across cities, transportation, manufacturing, retail, and more.
We do this using data from IoT (Internet of Things) sensor technology, as well as video and 3D LIDAR (light detection and ranging). All of this is analyzed by AI and computer vision to provide rich insights that help people make smarter decisions about their day-to-day work and planning.
The smart spaces group comes from a startup that was acquired by Hitachi. As its head of marketing, I work on strategy, positioning, messaging, and finding ways to get our story out to the markets we serve. I also played a part in scaling up and integrating this startup into the larger organization.
How have you witnessed trends in sustainability change from when you were in school versus what it looks like now?
I remember writing a paper at UO about sustainability, and my software's dictionary didn't even recognize sustainability as a word. Compare that to today where we have robust business programs that focus on sustainability, and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing accounts for $51 trillion—a third of the assets under management in the United States. Today, there is an incredible foundational business infrastructure of education, funding, professional groups, and departments at the world's largest companies aiming to make a sustainable economy a reality—not to mention an enormous opportunity for those involved in helping us make the transition.
How did you get connected with the Center for Sustainable Business Practices?
At Presidio Graduate School I was lucky enough to have classes and become friends with Ryan Cabinte, who is now the program manager at the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Ryan included Hitachi in the company tours he took his classes on, and I've since had the pleasure of meeting many bright and driven students.
How did it feel to (virtually) visit the UO this term and share with current MBAs? What do you hope they were able to take away from your presentation?
It's been fantastic to see how the students are making an impact across a variety of sectors and roles. I hope they took away knowledge about tech trends that are relevant to impact, as well as some tangible examples of how data-driven solutions can advance sustainability in a multitude of ways that will help them down the road.
If you could offer any piece of advice for students, what would it be?
You don't need anyone's permission to become an expert on something you're passionate and excited about. Write about what you learn and your analysis of it on LinkedIn, share it across your social media channels, and establish a brand for yourself. Over time, you'll have quite a wealth of expertise to share and will make connections with people who have similar interests.
Also, don’t get caught in the trap of choosing a career path just for the money. You might become good at doing something you don’t enjoy, or feel inspired by, and become dependent on that. Instead become great at something you’re passionate about. You’ll be more creative and productive (and happier).
—Terri Chrestenson, Class of 2022