Tom Stretton never imagined himself at business school. As a kid, he was a tinkerer who liked science and math. At Lehigh University, he minored in philosophy and was involved in environmental causes on campus.
“I used to think of business as a greed-driven enterprise,” says Tom, who attended Lehigh University for his undergraduate career. “It was for people who were passionate about nothing but making a lot of money.”
But, after a few years as an environmental scientist at a commercial real estate firm, he decided he wanted more out of his professional life. He applied to Brandeis IBS’s Global Green program, an MBA concentration that focuses on social responsibility and environmental issues. “I honestly think the world is at a crossroads,” he says, “and I wanted to be part of the force that moves it in a positive direction. Brandeis IBS taught me about ‘the triple bottom line’ where companies can lessen their environmental impact, save money, and even produce some social good.”
Tom says he was inspired by many of the company and thought leaders who visited Brandeis IBS to speak about environmental issues during his time there, such as Jeffrey Hollender, president of Seventh Generation, the natural home products company, and Rajendra Sisodia, a co-author of Firms of Endearment and one of the leading figures of the conscious capitalism movement.
“I’d noticed a real shift in business thinking,” he says. “It seemed as though more and more companies are adopting a values-driven model of doing business and trying to find that sweet spot where you can make a profit and better the environment. It told me that there were going to be more opportunities in this area.”
In his spare time, Tom—who is first-generation American and is in the process of obtaining his Irish citizenship—spent a lot of time working on projects and events for student-run clubs. He was a founding member of the European Business Club, and he was on the leadership team of the Brandeis chapter of Net Impact, an international group of MBA and graduate students who advocate that businesses work for the social good. He was also a member of the Brandeis Consulting Club, which was working on a project dealing with renewable energy.
“The clubs in general offer many great opportunities to get experience and pursue projects in areas that are not fully addressed in class,” he says. “They help you make what you want out your education, if you will.”