Driving sustainability in 3M’s processes, products, and services.

Ashaya Basnyat interned at 3M through the Sustainability Internship Program, where she helped drive the company’s current and future sustainability initiatives. “It was an incredible professional experience,” she says

[The Sustainability Internship Program] is one of the reasons I applied to MIT Sloan.

Ashaya Basnyat learned many lessons about how to promote sustainability within a large organization during her summer internship at 3M, but the ones that stay with her the most are perhaps the simplest.

Lesson one: get buy-in—and get it early. “Getting stakeholders involved early in the process and hearing their perspectives makes a big difference,” she says. “If your goal is to reduce water consumption at your manufacturing plants, you need get the engineering team involved in your decision-making at the very start. If your objective is a sustainable supply chain, the procurement team needs to weigh in at the beginning. After all, they’re the ones who know the business.”

Lesson two: semantics matter. “When it comes to driving a sustainability initiative, it’s important to talk in terms of a business opportunity or an operational efficiency,” she says. “Making the business case for sustainability requires pragmatism.”

And finally, lesson three: sometimes, it pays to show off. “3M has already had a positive impact in the area of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and now it’s working on leveraging those successes as a marketing tool,” she says. “Demonstrating that you can meet CSR goals is a way to bolster your brand, engage employees and customers, and attract Millennial talent.”

Ashaya’s internship at 3M—the $30 billion company best known for post-it notes and Scotch tape—was part of the Sustainability Internship Program, made possible by a generous gift from Anna Gabriella C. Antici Carroll  ’92 and Joseph D. Carroll ’91.

“It was an incredible professional experience,” says Ashaya, who spent her childhood in Nepal and India and previously worked for the World Bank. “This program is one of the reasons I applied to MIT Sloan.”

The program also allowed 3M to expand its global sustainability projects. In 2013, the St. Paul, Minnesota-based company launched the Center for 3M Sustainability, which works to drive sustainability into 3M’s processes, products, and services. In addition, the Center strives to raise the visibility of 3M’s leadership in sustainable practices and connect 3M employees to the company’s related initiatives.

Today Ashaya works in Washington, D.C., at the Boston Consulting Group. She is also the founder of Tamasha, which makes contemporary knits and accessories handcrafted in Nepal. “In addition to providing employment to women, we also created a budget brand, Sa Lana, that is sold exclusively in underserved South Asian markets,” she says. “I see sustainability as a value proposition.”