Whitman CASSE Program Enhanced Graduate Degree, Led to Sustainability Consulting Position at EY
Pratik Parihar M.S. ’22 (ECS)
CASSE Certificate Program
I decided to follow my passion and pursue a master’s degree in environmental engineering in the U.S. “I considered a lot of schools, but when I discovered the CASSE program, I knew Syracuse University was the perfect fit for me.
After earning an undergraduate degree in civil engineering, Pratik Parihar M.S. ’22 (ECS) considered two paths. One towards the construction industry in his native India. The other — the one he chose — towards a career in sustainability consulting in New York City by way of Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science and the Whitman School’s Certificate of Advanced Study in Sustainable Enterprise (CASSE) program.
“I decided to follow my passion and pursue a master’s degree in environmental engineering in the U.S.,” he explains. “I considered a lot of schools, but when I discovered the CASSE program, I knew Syracuse University was the perfect fit for me.”
The CASSE program integrates business, science, engineering, and policy practice with a focus on sustainable enterprise in collaboration with the College of Engineering and Computer Science, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) and the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems. Subjects range from the economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainability to the financial, technical, legal and social drivers of sustainability strategy and its implementation in businesses. Students complete the CASSE program in addition to their primary master’s degree requirements.
At first, Parihar was apprehensive about taking business courses, but he
credits former Whitman Professor Todd Moss for “making sure everyone in the class felt comfortable,” regardless of what type of graduate degrees they were pursuing.
The 15-credit program gave Parihar a multidisciplinary look at managing sustainability, including skills like sharing and challenging other perspectives and a greater understanding of sustainability terms and principals. Other course work in strategic management was project-based, as he learned business writing, studied supply chain and carbon trading; and read “fascinating” case studies on the environmental, social and governance (ESG) performances at companies globally.
Parihar says his most impactful course, Sustainability-Driven Enterprise, allowed him to work with an actual client, Premier Brands of America (PBA), a leading manufacturer and distributor of health and wellness products based in New York.
A team of students spent a semester analyzing PBA’s practices for prioritization of its goals, both sustainably and financially; established benchmarks for future evaluation of products and packaging processes, recommended sustainable alternatives for its packaging and developed a sustainable transition plan for the client. At the end of the semester, Parihar’s team presented onsite to the executive leadership and President and Founder Steve Corson, proposing solutions that included innovative packaging and a prototype designed to streamline the packaging process and eliminate waste across the entire supply chain.
“All of our semester’s work was put out there in just 30 minutes,” he says of the presentation that had the whole conference room talking. “It was a big success!”
Parihar also had two internships during the CASSE program. In 2021, he was a conservation innovation intern at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a global environment organization, where he ran a series of leadership innovation discovery sessions for the New York division and also authored a comprehensive guide to innovation metrics for evaluation of the organization’s conservations projects.
The second internship was a pivotal experience in the summer of 2022 at EY in New York City that eventually led to a job offer as a sustainability associate/consultant after graduation.
Parihar started full time at EY in January, working with its climate change and sustainability services team. Since then, he has been involved in versatile projects focusing on developing sustainable strategies for clients, supporting decarbonization and offering innovative solutions to tackle ESG-related issues in business to create a Lean impact.
Parihar is certain he chose the right path in pursuing his master’s degree in environmental engineering along with the CASSE program at Syracuse University.
““I am thrilled to have joined EY — one of the Big 4 and a global leader in the sustainability space,” he explains. “Overall to witness the ever-evolving sector of sustainability is to witness the collective efforts of individuals, communities, businesses and governments striving for a more sustainable future. I have the University and the CASSE program to thank for the guidance to see what was possible.”
By Caroline K. Reff