Indiana has one of the worst energy efficiency ratings of any state in the nation. Thanks to people like Cassidy Williams, MBA ’12, that statistic is on the road to change.
As a retail promotion specialist at the Portland, Oregon, office of Ecova (www.ecova.com), Williams works with manufacturers and retailers to discount energy efficient lighting for Indiana residents. By incentivizing people to purchase LED and CFL bulbs instead of incandescent, she and her team are helping the state meet its goal of reducing energy usage by 139 million kilowatt hours this year—enough to power approximately 10,000 homes in the state for the same period.
Six years ago Williams wouldn’t have guessed her career would revolve around energy savings instead of dollars. She’d just earned a degree in accounting from Weber State University while playing intercollegiate soccer, which she said was “basically a full-time job.”
She was ready for a break after graduation, so she took some time off to travel and reflect on what she wanted to do with her life. She ended up in Costa Rica volunteering with an organization that helped endangered turtles. The experience changed her outlook.
“I was on the path to accounting, but I realized I had this passion for the environment that I wanted to incorporate into my career,” said Williams
She came to Oregon several times with her soccer team and always liked it.
“People’s values were very aligned with mine,” she said. “They’re open-minded and independent. There’s such great culture and diversity here. The Northwest is really at the forefront of sustainability,” she explained
When she learned about the Center for Sustainable Business Practices (CSBP) at the Lundquist College of Business, she knew it was the perfect place to earn her MBA.
“The University of Oregon is one of the few schools that offers a specialization in sustainable business,” she said. “Plus, I liked the idea of a program where you get one-on-one time with professors and administrators. The experiential part of the program was appealing too.”
As part of that focus on experiential learning, CSBP arranged for Williams and her classmates to visit companies in Seattle and San Francisco and meet with sustainability managers.
“Businesses have a lot of potential to impact the world in a good way, and more of them are starting to focus on that,” Williams said. “It was very valuable to get an idea of how different companies approach sustainability and what kinds of jobs were available in this new field. We met a lot of people on the cutting edge of their profession.”
While serving as president of the University of Oregon’s chapter of Net Impact (www.netimpact.org), an organization that empowers students to leave positive marks on the world through their careers, Williams met several Ecova employees. One of them helped her secure a job with the company after graduation.
“Business can be a force for positive change,” she said. “That’s something I’ve pursued with Ecova and something I want to continue to pursue throughout my whole career. I’m so grateful the University of Oregon gave me the tools I need to make a positive difference.”