‘Latinos Shaping the Green Economy’ , the panel event coordinated by Mauricio Leyva, VP of Business Development for the Washington D.C. chapter of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, drew a full house at the John Hopkins University Carey Business School Tuesday night. I moderated a panel of five D.C.-area experts that included:
- Sara Manzano-Diaz, Director, Women’s Bureau at the Department of Labor
- Carlton Eley of the Environmental Protection Specialist at the EPA
- Marta Layseca, M.Arch, Owner of EnviroHomeDesign LLC
- Javier Vasquez, Manager of Collaboration and Unified Communications, Microsoft Corporation
- Victor Baten, Sustainability Coordinator, Green the Capitol Initiative
The audience heard about specific industries where career opportunities abound, both from the panel and from the stories in the pages of Latinnovating. The audience was highly engaged and asked questions ranging from maintaining a competitive edge against China (and how to do it), public policy at the EPA and its impact on expanding renewable energy sources and asked for industry insight from the small business owner and the large global enterprise representatives. As the author of this book about ten different industries led by entrepreneurs who are Latinos, I was able to share specific examples of the innovation that matters most to keep America competitive. I named names and companies featured in the book…the innovators who are contributing to this effort today.
We heard from DOL about the many workforce training programs available specifically geared at ensuring that women are equal participates in the green economy. We heard Victor speak about the very serious efforts taking place inside the U.S. Capitol to adopt sustainable business practices, eco-friendly products and very importantly to change long-established behaviors. Marta, the architect in the room, talked about how ARRA money is causing home owners to want to make modifications to their homes because the federal money will help them better afford equipment. But she stressed that without educating the homeowner about the need to change behaviors to conserve after the renovation, the potential good that was intended may not materialize. The audience heard about the tremendous impact that Microsoft’s collaboration technologies have had on helping federal workers cut back on commuting–the specific example cited was the Patent and Trade office that now has employees commuting only one day a week–a huge reduction of that agencies carbon footprint. Carlton of the EPA fielded questions about the difficulties in building nuclear power plants in the U.S.
The panel began with each panelist answering the question: “What is the current state of the green economy?” and ended with each panelist giving the audience actionable steps to take to be better positioned for the green economy.
I must add a point I emphasized to the audience. Someone asked about how we will remain competitive against China when they’re already manufacturing solar panels. I pointed out that photovoltaic solar panels are NOT new technologies. After interviewing the innovators in my book and doing extensive research on ten different industries, here’s what we must understand as we move forward: our nation’s students must focus on creating new energy storage solutions. We must move forward and win the materials science race to create more efficient thin film solar solutions. These roll out like a paper towel roll on the roof or wherever….they’re NOT big clunky, resource-intensive panels. We must win the innovation race and invent the world’s future energy solutions. We must NOT waste time lamenting that China is manufacturing commoditized solar panels.
I am deeply grateful to Mauricio and the board of the D.C. NSHMBA chapter for the opportunity to participate in this ground-breaking panel. If you are a student interested in sustainable business practices, entrepreneurship and in learning who is creating new green jobs in the new economy, please contact me to arrange for me to present to your student group or association.