Jon Gensler

First off, I am a proud Mountaineer, born and raised in Wild, Wonderful West Virginia. I am a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, having served as an officer in a tank battalion after graduating from West Point. I recently completed my first year of a three year, dual MBA/MPA program at MIT Sloan and the Harvard Kennedy School, where I am focusing on Sustainable Business, Environmental Policy, and Economic Development. Currently, I love my job interning as a Packard Environment Fellow with the California Fisheries Fund, a start-up project from the Environmental Defense Fund. Follow me @jgensler

Jon Gensler

With one day left in the beautiful San Francisco offices of the Environmental Defense Fund, I already find myself shifting my mental mode back to that needed for graduate school. Read more

Jon Gensler

Coming into my final week with the California Fisheries Fund, I am finally winding down my efforts to help the fishery at Morro Bay, California create a lasting branding effort for their local catch. Read more

Jon Gensler

I sometimes miss things about my life as an officer and soldier in the US Army. Rare are the organisations in which its members are so committed to its mission, to each other, and to a sense of an ideal, a higher purpose. Heading into the theatre this past weekend to watch The Hurt Locker, I was at first nervous: I haven’t always dealt with Iraq war scenes on TV or in other movies in a positive manner. Read more

Jon Gensler

I just spent an amazing weekend outdoors with my EDF co-workers, on a self-titled mini-vacation to Stinson Beach, just north of San Francisco in Marin County.  The primary feature of the weekend was a nice nine mile hike up over the highlands and down to Muir Woods National Monument, one of the gems of the Bay Area.  It was a great time for camaraderie and out of the office bonding;  the rare gorgeous weather lead to a great day among the Coast Redwoods.  It was also a great time to get to know my counterparts in the office a little bit better, and for them to get to know me, which I have to admit, brought up some very interesting conversation.  Read more

Jon Gensler

The California Fisheries Fund is definitely still a start-up. The rapid changes of direction; the nebulous defined roles and responsibilities and the need for self-starters to go through their days doing just that.

Even over the short seven weeks I have been with the CFF, I have experienced the turmoil that goes with working in this kind of fast-paced environment. Right now I feel as if I could throw out half of the draft fund operations manual I was given when I started and in fact, have been trying to do just that with my work on defining, refining and updating our mission performance metrics. Read more

Jon Gensler

I now have a little over two weeks remaining with the California Fisheries Fund and am in the process of drafting up my final project papers and presentations, a little of which I have given a window into through this blog.

But more important than those white papers or recommendations that I leave with my clients, will be the impression that I leave behind.

I doubt very much that I need to explain the difficulties with its reputation that the MBA degree is experiencing in the greater market place. I have spent time and effort this summer trying to dispel those myths, not only to my co-workers at the Environmental Defense Fund, but also to those of you who may be considering an MBA education, but aren’t sure that a business degree is going to allow you to make the positive impact you desire in the world. Read more

Jon Gensler

When it comes to all things ocean, I am the first to admit that I am completely a fish out of water.

I was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia, went to West Point to join the Army over the Navy and have yet to take the sailing classes on the Charles river, offered free to all MIT students. And while I love to eat fresh fish, especially cooked over a fire or grill, I am just not going to be able to name all 50 plus species of rock fish that populate the coast of California. Read more

Jon Gensler

Everyone who works at the Environmental Defense Fund wants to change the meaning of the term “business as usual”.

The EDF was founded with its original intent to do just that, through whatever means necessary, to force those who were harming the natural environment to stop and pay society for their ecological “sins.”

You might even be familiar with its old unofficial slogan, “sue the bastards”. Despite this history, the EDF may currently be the leading proponent of market-based solutions and for working with corporations to find “the ways that work”. How did this happen?

This morning I found myself yet again in the conference room, this time with Fred Krupp, the president of EDF for the past 25 years. With these questions in my mind, I was priveleged to hear at first hand from the man who was instrumental in that change. Read more

Jon Gensler

One of the first tasks I was asked to tackle for the California Fisheries Fund was the challenge of measuring the performance of the fund and its mission impact. Not in strictly financial terms, either. The goals of the CFF are three-fold:

Increase conservation measures supporting commercial fish stocks and their natural habitats.

Help revitalise California’s coastal fishing communities after decades of economic decline.

Assist fishery related businesses to make the transition from open-access to a catch-share based management regime.

Capitalised currently at $5M, you’ll notice something missing from those goals: nothing about earning the investors a financial return. While the goal of the fund is to remain solvent and self-supporting, this is a mission-driven, financial instrument, providing low-cost capital to higher risk businesses in need. Read more

Jon Gensler

Five weeks ago, I left the comforting environs of Cambridge, Massachusetts and MIT Sloan for the unknown challenges awaiting me with the California Fisheries Fund.

Anticipating a huge cultural shift, I was prepared for pretty much anything, other than the highly professional, financial district high-rise in San Francisco where the CFF is co-located with the EDF.

I was also not expecting that I would find myself using nearly every subject I covered in my first year of MBA studies.  Within the first two weeks.

No, that is not an exaggeration. Read more

Jon Gensler

Did I just hear those words?  Having been distracted by the brilliant 28th floor view of the Bay Bridge, I was quickly thrust back into reality.

As I was sitting in on a conference call with the Director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) Corporate Partnership Program, the title referenced phrase is how he described the expectations of his business “partner,” FedEx’s chief engineer. It wasn’t too far off from the sentiment I was expecting when I first arrived here five weeks ago, although I must admit I didn’t hold quite the negative bias about it.  After all, I had searched out and taken a summer position with an explicitly environmentally oriented organisation for a reason. Read more