Meet Reed Lewallen, an MBA in Sustainable Solutions candidate, who shares insight about career pivots, the built environment industry, greenwashing, and the real value Presidio professors bring to the classroom.
Thank you so much for your time today, Reed! Can you tell us more about where you currently work and what inspired you to pursue that path?
I actually had a career pivot in March of this year, and I owe a lot of that to Presidio, specifically, Professor Marsha Willard and the Systems, Sustainability, and Social Justice class I took at the time. Before my career transition, I worked for a technology company for nearly five years, doing crowdfunding for commercial real estate. I had a blast working there. It was a great opportunity — a true startup experience. But then I discovered Measurabl by pitching them to my former employer. Measurabl is also a software company that works to make buildings more sustainable and positions itself as an ESG data management solution.
Can you describe how Professor Willard and the SSSJ class impacted you?
I took Systems, Sustainability, and Social Justice with Marsha Willard in my second semester. One of the class’s final projects was making a succinct, five-minute sustainability business pitch. I pitched mine to my previous employer to prioritize sustainability initiatives, not only because it’s the right thing to do but because if they don’t, they’re going to expose a considerable risk in their business.
You’re currently a part-time candidate in the MBA program. How did you discover Presidio, and what clicked for you to realize, ‘Yes, this is the school for me?
I decided to get my MBA after teaching and working for five years. My experience in a startup environment solidified my decision to return to school. I’m an Oregon native — I grew up in Portland — so I’d always heard about Portland State and its “green MBA,” as well as the University of Oregon’s MBA program. As I was doing more research, though, Presidio came up, and it really just felt like a no-brainer.
I wanted my MBA experience with sustainability to be all-in. I love the approach that Presidio has always had, and it’s really refreshing to see them providing a sustainability-driven program for all the right reasons.
Do you see a lot of greenwashing happening in your industry? Are there things you’ve learned at Presidio that have taught you how to look for and counteract it?
I think the simple answer is yes. There is a real focus on being genuine at Presidio. The CEO of Measurabl published a book titled From Green to ESG, a walk-through of how the 2000s, for example, was the “green” decade, 2010 heralded the “sustainability” decade, and now we’ve come around to ESG. I love that Presidio makes sustainability a part of everything, even within an accounting class, for example. Presidio recognizes that ESG has a place in every facet of modern business. What excites me most about being a student here is that Presidio challenges me to be creative, make economic arguments, and find ways to take sustainable solutions from a trend and turn them into practical, long-term initiatives.
What would you say about Presidio makes you hopeful about creating change for our planet and future generations?
The professors are significantly different when you compare Presidio to other business schools. For example, my finance professor returned to Presidio as a faculty member this fall, having gone to Presidio Graduate School. He brings eight years of teaching experience — but he also works full-time and can honestly speak to his teaching topics. He works as a Director of Investor Relations at an impact investing firm. Working with and learning from people like this who are walking the walk and making a real difference right now is what makes me hopeful. When professors are out in the workforce practicing what they’re teaching, it changes the classroom dynamic.
In my opinion, Presidio’s faculty makes the student experience so much richer.
What advice would you give aspiring change-makers and people looking into Presidio eager to make an impact?
I decided on Presidio’s MBA program because I felt it best fit my skill set, experience, and passion for sustainability. Presidio is excellent at helping students leverage their experiences to make the most impact. They meet you where you are with your strengths. For example, if you’re good with media and marketing, Presidio’s faculty will help you figure out how to work with those skills. Having a background in commercial real estate, Presidio has helped me determine how I can best impact an industry that makes up 40 percent of CO2 emissions.
What excites you about the next steps in your career?
There is a lot of opportunity at Measurabl with SEC climate disclosures coming down the pike. Measurabl is a 12-year-old company, but they’ve doubled in the last year. There has been a lot of growth as building owners and operators realize the role sustainability plays in supporting business outcomes!
Thank you so much to Reed Lewallen for sharing his journey as a Presidian change-maker! If you’re interested in learning more about Presidio Graduate School and how we can help you further your career in sustainability through our MBA, MPA, and dual degree programs, you can contact us today to find out more.