Practicing sustainability in the American grain belt 

Ed Fish, a former banker, came to MIT Sloan to pursue a career in sustainability. Today, he is a Strategy and Business Development Associate at Cargill, where he works on projects involving animal nutrition, agricultural supply chain, and food ingredients. 

Sustainability is not a niche business. There's an opportunity to practice sustainability no matter what you do.

People often go to business school because they want to change industries or change roles; Ed Fish wanted to do both.

“After college, I worked in investment banking and later in private equity. After a few years in New York, I wanted to pursue a career in sustainability, even if I wasn’t exactly sure what that entailed.”

Two things drew Ed to MIT Sloan: Action Learning and the Sustainability Certificate. “Sloan takes a pragmatic approach to sustainability,” he says.

In his first year, Ed helped develop a course on the business of water. The course culminated with a trip Singapore and China, where students visited nonprofits, government agencies, and multinationals in the water industry.

Ed also took two Sustainable Business Lab classes: the first involved a reporting and transparency project for Asics, the athletic equipment company. The second was a packaging project for Eastern Mountain Sports that required him to briefly live in a cabin in the New Hampshire woods.

“The Sustainability Certificate program helped me think about how I want to have influence in my career,” he says. “John Sterman’s course gave me the courage to make tough decisions. Peter Senge’s leadership class showed me the importance of change management. It can’t be overstated how important that is when it comes to initiating sustainability agendas within traditional businesses.”

After getting his MBA, Ed earned a spot in the general management program at Cargill, the food and agriculture giant. He lived in Nebraska—in the heart of the American grain belt. Today Ed is based at Cargill’s headquarters in Minneapolis. He travels extensively for his job—mainly to Europe and South America—and works on initiatives of strategic importance to the organization.

MIT Sloan, he says, taught him that: “sustainability thrives when the firm can balance a broad set of stakeholders.”

“Cargill practices sustainability through efficient supply chains and operations, being good employers, and improving communities where we operate. There's an opportunity to practice sustainability no matter what you do.”