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Leading with Sustainability at Michigan Ross


As a first-generation American, I knew early on that I wanted to help make the world a better place for historically marginalized people.

Devika Agarwal, MBA/MS '22

I served as a Teach for America corps member in Cincinnati, and worked in social advocacy in Washington D.C. and in the global supply chain at Gap Inc. in San Francisco. The pivots in my career were always guided by how I could better position myself to make an even larger impact at scale. 

After seeing the fractures in the public school system, the political system, and then in business, I knew that I needed more expertise in implementing sustainable solutions to achieve my long-term goal of becoming a chief sustainability executive. As I considered graduate programs at the intersection of sustainability and business, I learned about the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan. Through the Erb Institute, I could obtain an MBA from the Ross School of Business and a master’s of science from the School for Environment and Sustainability within three years.

However, it was not just the degrees that attracted me to U-M. The diversity of people, experiences, and thought was incredibly important to me. As a member and ally within the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, I wanted to be where this presence was the largest, and that was Michigan Ross.

How I’ve immersed myself in business, sustainability, and diversity at U-M

During my time in graduate school at Michigan Ross and U-M, I’ve been able to integrate sustainability and diversity in places where these perspectives have often been an afterthought. Here are a list of ways I’ve been able to do that: 

However, my greatest accomplishment is having taught U-M undergraduates for the past five semesters, pre-COVID, during peak-COVID, and now (hopefully) post-peak COVID. My involvement in the Center for Positive Organizations at Michigan Ross allowed me to empathetically adapt teaching methods with Professor Sara Soderstrom throughout the pandemic, for which I received the Percy Community Service Award from the Erb Institute. I’ve continued to mentor my students and host workshops on topics like negotiation, career exploration, and self-branding for undergraduates, and I know these are just a few of the leadership skills that will serve me as a future people-leader.

These opportunities allowed me to secure two amazing summer internships working internally on strategic initiatives at both Nike and Starbucks. In addition, I was also able to consult for Carhartt and StockX via the Design+Business Club at Michigan Ross during the school year. This experience in retail and having the ability to integrate sustainability and diversity into widespread company strategies is what’s taking me back to Starbucks full-time as an associate strategy manager after I graduate. 

I have no doubt that my time in graduate school at U-M, the Full-Time MBA Program at Ross, and the opportunities provided to me will help me to achieve all of my career goals. Above all else, I know that having been able to bring impact to life in such a short time will only further my ability to create impact long term.

Learn more about the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise

Featured Faculty
Colonel William G. and Ann C. Svetlich Professor of Operations Research and Management
Professor of Technology & Operations
Faculty Director, Center for Value Chain Innovation
Associate Professor of Organizational Studies and Associate Professor of Program in the Environment, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Professor of Management & Organizations
Professor of Environment and Sustainability
Holcim (US), Inc. Professor of Sustainable Enterprise