Developing sustainability strategies to bring people together for a better world

Last summer, Samantha Fahrbach spent 10 weeks as part of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Better World team, applying what she’d learned during the Sustainability Certificate program outside the classroom.

When she first applied to MIT Sloan, Samantha Fahrbach knew she wanted to leave her background in federal government behind to pursue a career more directly related to sustainability.

“I was very attracted to MIT Sloan’s Sustainability Certificate program, the career support, and the opportunities for extracurricular involvement,” she says. “I knew I wanted to transition to a career in corporate sustainability, with a focus on the food and beverage industry.”

It’s no surprise then that she took an internship at the global beer company Anheuser-Busch InBev last summer. AB InBev aims to bring people together for a better world, and manages big names including Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois. Samantha worked as part of the Better World team within the Corporate Affairs department, which is responsible for setting the company’s corporate social responsibility strategy.

Over the course of ten weeks, Samantha crafted a forecasting model to support the achievement one of the company’s Smart Drinking Goals focused on low- and no-alcohol beer. She also analyzed the glass recycling industry in the U.S. to support the development of strategies to increase AB InBev’s use of recycled packaging materials. She also helped her team present compelling data to their counterparts in other departments to build commitment and buy-in.

The most important thing I learned was that to be successful, sustainability teams cannot operate in a silo within their organization,” Samantha says. “Developing an effective sustainability strategy requires input and buy-in from the departments that will actually be responsible for executing the strategy.

Devising sustainability strategies was something Samantha and her peers had explored as part of the Sustainability Certificate program, but her internship gave her the chance to apply what she’d learned outside the classroom. Samantha hit the ground running, and gleaned far more insight from interfacing with the company’s global marketing and innovation teams than she would have simply sitting behind a desk.

“Samantha was a great addition to the team,” says Ezgi Barcenas, Global Director for Procurement Sustainability. “She worked efficiently across functions to identify and deliver key sustainability solutions, tirelessly bringing fresh perspectives and insights.”

Samantha did not secure her internship via fellowships or funds associated with MIT Sloan, but rather utilized her own networks and MIT Sloan’s career resources. She came in contact with AB InBev during an on-campus recruiting session, and expressed her interest in the company’s sustainably work right from the onset. In this regard, she advises students to assert their interests to faculty and peers as soon as possible so that others can suggest potentially relevant jobs and contacts. In fact, post-graduation Samantha will be returning to the same team at AB InBev where she interned, along with four other Certificate grads.

Samantha affirms her sustainability education has leveraged the academic rigor and commitment to data-driven work and decision making characteristic of MIT Sloan. Throughout her time at MIT, she has primarily learned by doing.

“In the sustainability courses I’ve taken, we haven’t just discussed theories—we’ve used data to debate and determine whether different sustainability efforts actually have their intended impact,” she says. “We’ve then put the tools we learn to work, tackling real world problems facing actual companies. It’s been an invigorating and challenging learning experience.”