Hands-on experiences at MIT Sloan clarify Carolyn Mansfield DuPont’s career priorities

MIT Sloan’s emphasis on hands-on learning helps Carolyn Mansfield DuPont learn new skills and experiment with different career paths. Carolyn has worked on sustainability-related projects with the Mars Corporation, The Gates Foundation and Encourage Capital.

The concepts of collaboration and action learning are actually live here and not just buzzwords.

Carolyn Mansfield duPont, a dual degree MBA/MPA student at MIT Sloan and the Harvard Kennedy School, started business school with a plan to pursue a career in environmental sustainability. She soon realized one of the biggest challenges: the professional opportunities are so varied that it’s “difficult to narrow it down."

“MIT Sloan, through its emphasis on action learning, allowed me to test out different areas and identify what I am really interested in,” says Carolyn, who has a degree in environmental anthropology from Stanford.

While at MIT Sloan, Carolyn completed a project about sustainable cocoa for the Mars Corporation. Carolyn also helped run a data analysis project in Kenya at Sanergy—a social enterprise, founded by Sloan alums, that runs clean and safe toilet franchises in Nairobi slums. Then, through a connection she made at the Net Impact conference, Carolyn secured a summer internship at the Gates Foundation, working on a project involving agriculture in Africa.

While the internships and projects deepened her understanding of the challenges associated with sustainability implementation, Carolyn’s classroom experiences have taught her the value of applying an “entrepreneurial mindset” to sustainability issues. “MIT is all about figuring out ways to do things better, faster, and more effectively.”

Bringing her newfound clarity to her internship search

Carolyn brought this entrepreneurial approach to her second summer internship at Encourage Capital, a New York-based asset management firm that specializes in investments that address social and environmental challenges.

During her three month internship, Carolyn focused on the question: What’s the best way to encourage American cities to invest in green infrastructure and sustainable stormwater management?

“It was a huge learning opportunity that gave me a chance to use both the financial modeling skills I learned at MIT Sloan and the policy analysis skills I learned at Harvard and apply them to an issue I care deeply about,” she says. “I went to work every day feeling energized by the mission.”

Stormwater poses a growing problem in the U.S. Many large cities have sewer systems that collect wastewater and storm runoff in the same pipes. During heavy rains, the systems overflow sending sewage and other discharge into streams and rivers. Under Environmental Protection Agency regulations, many cities are in the process of updating their sewer and stormwater management systems, which can be a long and expensive process.

Carolyn discovered Encourage Capital while working on a research project on green bonds and land conservation finance. Encourage was eager to hire her but only able to pay a small stipend. A generous gift from Anna Gabriella C. Antici Carroll  ’92 and Joseph D. Carroll ’91 to the Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan provided supplementary funding for the internship, which was part of the Sustainability Internship Program.

“These internships, combined with Sloan’s emphasis on action learning, allow me to test out different areas and identify what I’m interested in,” she says. “In terms of my career, these are clarifying experiences: sustainability is what I want to be doing.”