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Darla Moore School of Business

International MBA alumni influencing sustainability, philanthropic practices with multinational companies

Two Moore School International MBA alumni, Renee Paris (’14 IMBA) and Mihai Scrobotovici (’19 IMBA), have applied the skills and knowledge they gained from the IMBA program to implement higher corporate social responsibility standards with their respective organizations.

Paris is currently a category manager of sustainable packaging at Molson Coors Beverage Company, a multinational drink and brewing company, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In this position, Paris works on both supervisory responsibilities as well as sustainable packaging work.

“No two days are alike, which I love,” Paris said. “I have some typical category manager-type responsibilities — managing contracts, negotiating pricing, managing delivery issues, working on strategy for various spend categories. Other responsibilities are focused more on sustainable packaging work — whether it’s helping brands to brainstorm new sustainable packaging concepts, learning about new technologies in sustainable packaging or measuring progress against our goals.”

Serving in the Peace Corps in Mamfe, Cameroon, as part of an economic development project while she was enrolled in the IMBA program, Paris has always been civically minded with the desire to give back to those in need.

Shifting her focus to sustainability, Paris’s career has transitioned to working full time in sustainable packaging due to the heightened global plastic crisis. After National Geographic published an article about the plastic crisis, and China and other southeast Asian markets started declining U.S. plastics because of possible contamination, many large consumer packaging companies started drafting sustainable packaging goals and joined the New Plastics Economy initiative, Paris said.

“This decision fundamentally changed the economics of recycling in the U.S. New legislation on packaging is proposed rather frequently,” she said. “All of this has culminated into a very large focus on sustainable packaging — consumers value it, lawmakers are legislating it, investors are spending based on it, companies are pledging to do it.”

Paris said corporate social responsibility is something that most consumers expect now from companies. Many buyers don’t have issues purchasing other brands if one does not meet ethical standards.

“It’s no longer a delighter — it’s a gatekeeper,” she said. “A growing number of consumers expect companies to meet basic responsibility standards, and they have no problem calling out brands who do not play their part.”

In her position at Molson Coors Beverage, Paris said she uses the communication, data analysis and operations management skills she gained from the Moore School’s International MBA program on a daily basis. She said the union of these skills has led her to a successful career.

“Understanding the different ways people think — the courses focusing on Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions theory and similar topics helped me immensely, both in foreign countries and back home,” she said. “The next big skill is data analysis. It’s a bit of a cliché, but there are lots of big spreadsheets that need to be interpreted. Being able to communicate with data is just as valuable as being able to communicate with people. Last but certainly not least is the lean/operations management mindset. Every process can be approved, and there is a lot of unnecessary, non-value-added work that people do, sometimes just because it’s always been done that way.”

Alumnus completed leadership development program, hired as finance manager for Henkel

Like Paris, fellow International MBA alumnus Scrobotovici also said there are many skills that he attained during his time in the IMBA program that have proved to be valuable in his position at Henkel, a German chemical and consumer goods company. Scrobotovici just finished Henkel’s PRISM rotational leadership development program and has now been promoted to a finance manager with the company.

“First, soft skills,” he said. “People management is most important when working cross-functionally and especially when managing projects. Second, business analytics. Like most companies, Henkel has been focusing on digital transformation and automation. My business analytics skills have allowed me to contribute to that goal throughout all rotations — purchasing, IT, finance, business controlling — in Henkel’s leadership development program. Business intelligence expertise allows you to approach problems from a different perspective and make an immediate impact.”

These skills and knowledge have assisted Scrobotovici in his new position and helped him during his time in the rotational program. While in the rotational program for 16 months, Scrobotovici was able to explore Henkel’s corporate social responsibility standards.

“Henkel sponsors voluntary, employee-led resource groups focused on common areas of interest,” he said. “There are groups focused on climate sustainability, civil rights, community outreach, volunteer work, cultural diversity, sports and many more topics. They organize seminars, speaker events, activities, fundraisers, etcetera. I have participated in climate sustainability fairs, spent paid work hours packaging food for the local food banks and ‘adopted’ families in need for the holidays and have had the opportunity to participate in even more related activities.”

Being exposed to Henkel’s corporate social responsibility principles so early in his time with the company showed Scrobotovici how much value leadership places on being involved in the community and giving back.

“Social responsibility becomes meaningful and impactful when springing from within,” he said. “An organization that inspires its employees top-down to produce ideas and then supports their bottom-up implementation is, in my view, truly socially responsible. For Henkel, sustainability — climate and social — represents a central pillar in its innovation strategies. There are organizations that — in cooperation with industries, governments, nonprofits, and international bodies like the United Nations — set standards, provide guidelines, assess and audit entire supply chains to promote and ensure social responsibility. Henkel requires its suppliers to submit to such audits and contractually commit to a set of social responsibility key performance indicators. While it is all a work in progress, and more needs to be done, these increasingly present requirements trickle up and down the chain and do make a difference.”

Scrobotovici said he looks forward to continuing to emphasize the importance of corporate social responsibility at Henkel in the years to come.

“In my short time here, I have learned that Henkel puts people and community first knowing that the bottom line will always benefit as a result,” he said. “In these COVID-19 pandemic’s troubled times, I am enjoying job stability with a clear upward path in a familial, yet professional environment designed to foster my professional and personal growth. I couldn’t ask for more.”

-Claire McGrath

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.