The MBA Hub

Career Changers: Kylene Fickenscher (MBA '10)

MBA alum, Kylene Fickenscher (’10), who now works as a Sustainability Analyst for Ecova, began her professional career as a sales rep for companies selling to Target.

While Kylene's experience as a sales rep gave her a strong foundation in business fundamentals, she ultimately wanted to find a career that fueled her passion for food systems and sustainability.

To make this shift, she decided to pursue her MBA, knowing that the experience would give her a head start as she transitioned into a new industry.

“The MBA degree gave me a broad spectrum of knowledge and skills to engage and influence people,” says Kylene.

Initially interested in sustainable food systems, Kylene chose the Portland State MBA for its sustainability focused curriculum, urban location in Portland, and connections to the local business community.

“PSU provides opportunities to attend events and interact with industry professionals, building a network of community and business leaders,” Kylene said. “There is an advantage to building relationships within a smaller, close-knit community like Portland — over time, you create a network that is able to vouch for your skills and abilities.”

Attending events, contributing to class projects, and obtaining internships throughout the program all connected Kylene to many local industry professionals, including her mentor, Alison Dennis, who she says played a critical role in her job search.

Kylene says that doing her capstone consulting project with Dave’s Killer Bread also contributed to her ability to land a position with Ecova, an energy and sustainability management company.

“I worked as a sustainability consultant for Dave’s Killer Bread,” she said. “The project was a combination of foundational concepts and new interests that the existing program didn’t offer. Our team developed recommendations to help reduce the organization’s energy consumption, minimize the waste stream, and increase input efficiency.”

Although her days are rarely the same, Kylene’s job consists of analyzing environmental impacts across various resources, and giving clients the necessary information to make decisions related to sustainability initiatives.

Kylene describes her job as the perfect blend of analytics and client interaction.

“One of the most rewarding parts about my job is that clients vary in their experience and comfort level in terms of sustainability,” Kylene said. “My challenge is figuring out where to meet them on their sustainability plan and provide them with the information necessary to move forward.”


Click here to read more about the role sustainability plays in the MBA curriculum.

Click here to read more about MBA alumni.

Click here for info about the full time, part time on campus, or part time online Portland State MBA Program.

Click here to apply for the Portland State MBA — deadline is May 1!


By Mallory Miller: Mallory has experience in marketing, management and sales. She plans to apply her experience, interests, and skills to a career in product marketing and business development. She will graduate from the Portland State full time MBA program in June 2013. You can connect with Mallory on LinkedIn.


Tags: Alumni, Center for Global Leadership in Sustainability, MBA alumni, networking, networking events, Sustainability

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About the Blog

Portland State's MBA program has earned numerous accolades, including a 2011-12 Beyond Grey Pinstripes Report rating of #1 in the world — for small schools — for its emphasis on environmental stewardship.