Using public-private partnerships to address environmental challenges

After a decade working for the U.S. government with a focus on environmental finance, Sloan Fellow Bella Tonkonogy plans to enter the private sector. “The school’s emphasis on innovation and action learning are key to my professional transition,” she says.

I wanted to be at a school that cares about teaching future business leaders about sustainability and that’s working to create a community around it.

For most of her career, Bella Tonkonogy has focused on using public-private partnerships to address environmental challenges. “Effective leadership in sustainability requires collaboration between business, government, and non-profits,” she says.

Before MIT Sloan, Bella spent nearly a decade working for the U.S. government, first at the Environmental Protection Agency, and later at the Treasury Department, where she oversaw clean energy and environmental finance.

In 2013, Bella began researching business schools. Sloan Fellows, the yearlong executive MBA program for global mid-career managers, immediately appealed to her. “I wanted to be at a school that cares about teaching future business leaders about sustainability and that’s working to create a community around it.”

Bella “appreciates how sustainability is integrated into the core curriculum” as opposed to being solely a standalone subject. “The professors here train you to analyze how the world works in terms of systems.” she says.

On campus, Bella is involved in MIT Joules, a group for MIT women in the energy field.  And she’s involved with several clean energy start-ups, including through the school’s Energy Ventures course.

After graduation, Bella plans to return to environmental finance in the private sector. “The school’s emphasis on innovation and action learning are key to my transition,” she says.