Tricia Senzel, CFO at Opportunities Credit Union
For Tricia Senzel, the Sustainable Business Program at UVM, opened up doors to a new career and opened her eyes to a new way of thinking about her work as a financial advisor and planner.
Senzel’s career included positions at American Express Financial Services and UBS. When she was laid off from UBS in 2009, she viewed it as an opportunity. She enrolled in the Sustainable Business Program – and it changed her professional life. The experience opened the gates to new concepts, language, and ideas. She knew she couldn’t return to the work world from unemployment in the same capacity from which she left.
On February 1, 2010, she began her current position as CFO of Opportunities Credit Union – Vermont’s only community development credit union which offers affordable financial services to Vermonters and socially responsible investment options for those seeking to impact their community. In her new role, she ensures that all Vermonters have access to financial services and advises clients on microlending and small business lending opportunities – building a sustainable community in the process.
Bennie Hayden, Founder and President at Marketing for Green, LLC
When Bennie Hayden, a businessman and self-described social entrepreneur, searched the internet from his home in Detroit for a place he could learn more about sustainable and socially responsible business practices, he determined that Vermont was where he needed to be. Wanting to learn more, he enrolled in the Sustainable Business Program at UVM.
Hayden wanted to learn how he could apply his marketing experience and knowledge to the promotion of green, sustainable and responsible practices to better support urban communities, particularly in Detroit. Hayden, who worked in corporate America, says he learned a number of strategies from senior management types and business owners that he applies to the green marketing firm he launched in October 2010 called Marketing for Green, LLC, which pairs his knowledge and his desire to be a change agent. The firm provides solution-focused consulting services for sustainable marketing management and corporate social responsibility initiatives designed for urban America.
Creighton Vogt, owner at Deerfield Designs
Creighton Vogt was always aware of the impact individuals and businesses have on the environment. His father was deputy director of the Environmental Protection Agency and raised his family to be environmentally-conscious. Today, as owner of Deerfield Designs, Vogt realizes that the lessons he learned from his father are relevant to his business – a print screen shop where the use of toxic materials is not uncommon.
Vogt wanted to learn ways to improve this business model and reduce Deerfield Design’s impact on the environment. In 2008, he enrolled in the Sustainable Business Program at UVM. During the week-long program, Vogt was inspired by the stories of seasoned professionals, including leaders from Magic Hat Brewing Company, NRG and Seventh Generation. Vogt left the program with a sense of security in his expertise, greater commitment to sustainability – and a laundry list of what he wanted to do with his business.
The effect on his business has been significant: Vogt has turned Deerfield Designs into a green and sustainable business. The print screen shop now uses compostable inks, reusable screens, non-toxic cleaners, and organic cotton. With the knowledge he gained from the Sustainable Business Program, he has improved Deerfield Design’s impact for the better.
Brendan LeBlanc, CEO at LeBlanc & Associates, LLC
Brendan LeBlanc always knew he wanted to start his own CPA firm – and, more so, he hoped to open one of the nation’s first CPA firms to conduct audits of businesses’ sustainability and corporate social responsibility practices. Brendan had the background with positions at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Fidelity Investments, Control Solutions International and Accume Partners. He needed a partner to make his business plan come to life, and he found one in the Sustainable Business Program at UVM.
LeBlanc gained knowledge, credibility and certification in his chosen field. Inspiring speakers and vast networking opportunities provided him with the ideal toolkit to launch and grow his business. He learned about both financial and non-financial reporting for sustainable business, which became the cornerstone of his company, LeBlanc & Associates, which is now at the forefront of measuring the financial impact of sustainable business initiatives and practices. The firm assists clients, like Ben & Jerry’s and Stonyfield Farm, with sustainability concepts, policies and programs throughout the cycle of assessment, design, implementation, measurement, governance, reporting, internal assurance and external assurance.
LeBlanc has since returned to the University of Vermont as a guest speaker for the Sustainable Business Program, helping students and companies better understand how it is possible to audit non-financial information and the importance of embedding corporate social responsibility practices into every company’s strategic planning.