BYU: Marriott Students Create Lasting Change | News, Sports, Jobs

The SIP team takes a photo while walking into a Walmart. (Courtesy of Elisa Huhem)

This summer, Walmart challenged four BYU Marriott School of Business students to create a sustainable alternative for a supply chain process through an internship with the school’s Ballard Center for Social Impact. These Social Impact Projects (SIPs) empower students from all disciplines to create sustainable solutions to global challenges.

Over the summer, the Ballard Center partnered with Walmart to give BYU Marriott students Brandon Adams, Elisa Huhem, Emily McDonald and Aaron Rameson the challenge of increasing the company’s environmental sustainability through new, eco-friendly packaging. environment for the company’s products.

The team met with Walmart’s sustainability department through Zoom to participate in a corporate virtual tour of a Walmart property. Walmart staff taught students how to analyze product packaging in each department and look for opportunities for more sustainable solutions. During this meeting, students learned about Walmart’s current sustainability efforts and the importance of reducing plastic waste in product packaging.

“Witnessing how social impact works as part of a business was amazing,” says Adams, a Las Vegas junior in the Global Supply Chain Management program. “People often think of the social impact within the nonprofit sphere, but working with Walmart has taught me that businesses also have huge opportunities to make a meaningful impact. “

The meeting with Walmart inspired the team of students to make their own tours of several stores and to design environmentally friendly alternatives to current packaging designs. To find the most sustainable solutions, the students visited some of Walmart’s local competitors and observed which products were packaged in the most sustainable way between organizations.

The SIP team reviews different Walmart products. (Courtesy of Elisa Huhem)

“Our group looked at products from a new perspective and constantly wondered how product packaging could be improved,” says Huhem, a freshman MPA student from Ceder Hills, Utah County. “We weren’t afraid to brainstorm a variety of ideas, because innovation is at the heart of improvement and is essential for achievable change. “

The innovation led students to compile their research and findings into a sustainability handbook for manufacturers and suppliers at Walmart. The group’s guide presents tables, certification requirements and suggestions for reducing the use of single-use plastics in packaging by replacing them with sustainable materials. Walmart is now using this playbook in corporate meetings as an in-depth look at how to increase its sustainability.

“Initially, I thought we would play a small role as interns,” says Rameson, junior finance at Spanish Fork. “However, I realized that our research and efforts impact all levels of the Walmart organization. Our mentors called our team a catalyst for change.

The group’s playbook plays a useful role in reducing content in landfills and healing the earth, notes McDonald, a marketing program junior from Silver City, New Mexico. “That’s the social impact: doing our little bit to make the world healthier, happier and more sustainable. “

All students who participate in SIP projects have similar experiences, explains Jill Piciatelli, teacher and director of SIP. “Like those who have worked with Walmart, students who participate in SIP projects gain highly coached experience in social impact work that helps them prepare with unique skills and training as they approach their market entry. work. Students in these projects apply their skills in the context of a real problem with mentors to guide them. No matter where a student goes in their life, the lessons they learn during a SIP experience will have a positive impact on their future and the world around them.

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