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There is an old proverb that says “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you may die.” As right as that feels, there is something intrinsically wrong with it.

Marcos Cordero, cofounder of GradSave in Florida, knows the “live for the present” concept helps keep people from living a boring life or regretting not taking risks when faced with the end of their days. But he also knows regret can arrive by delving too much into the present and not investing enough in the future.

“I’m very mission driven,” Cordero said.

His mission for GradSave is to help families prepare for their future, in particular, sending their children to college. He said it is something too many parents don’t consider early on in their children’s childhood and often wait too late to start preparing for the costs of college.

“I’m helping mainstream America save up for college,” he said.

The idea for the company came after a baptism. Not his own, but that of his goddaughter’s. He said he wanted to give her something sizeable, sustainable, and something that would pay dividends her whole life.

“I didn’t want to give her another trinket or onesie,” he said.

So what did he do? He gave her both. Something for now and something for later.

“Kids who have a college savings fund are seven times more likely to go because it changes the conversation in the home,” he said.

Cordero emphasized that the perfect time to start saving is now adding that it doesn’t matter how much is put into the savings as long as something is put forth.

According to Cordero, college saving accounts for approximately a $200 billion space, in comparison to the $1 trillion college loan debt. The best way to combat the problem is to begin saving early. He added that the debt crisis is having an effect on the entrepreneurial spirit of the country.

“The increasing price of college can stifle entrepreneurship because it limits the freedom of doing what you want to do,” he said.

Earning his MBA from Harvard Business School in 2005 has granted him the chance to do what he wishes along the business playing field.

“Harvard gives you a lot of tools and resources to become an entrepreneur,” he said. “I knew I wanted to join the entrepreneur ranks. It has an unparalleled network and the degree gives you a stamp of validity.

“I felt taking the entrepreneurial risk was worth it because I had an MBA. If I was passionate, I would be successful. And in case I wasn’t successful, I could still fall back on my MBA.”

Cordero Goes Green

GradSave isn’t the first company Cordero has started. He also founded the Green Business Bureau (GBB), an online platform enabling businesses to become more eco-efficient and providing businesses with a seal of recognition for being eco-friendly.

“This new generation is a lot more sensitive to those issues,” he said.

He said corporations are now looking to create green programs within their companies and become more environmentally friendly. The green initiatives have created a recruiting element for college graduates.

“More and more schools prepare students to fulfill the green job,” he said. “Those concentrations didn’t exist five and 10 years ago.”

A Higher Calling

Cordero’s business initiatives reflect one common goal: the prosperity of the future.

The GBB began at the beginning of 2009 and has been used by several large companies including Travelocity, eBay World of Good, and AAA. GradSave, which is fairly new – celebrating its first full year this month, already has more than 4,000 families using the college fund tool.

“Week over week there is record growth,” he said.

One of the main reasons he has helped found two successful businesses is in part to his business education at Harvard.

“I feel I learned how to think like a business person,” he said. “For me, it was a life-changing experience.”


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What Is a Green MBA?

This infographic outlines nearly two dozen schools that offer Green MBAs, along with information on how those institutions become green.

Not all businesses are sustainable (or “green”). In fact, most are not.

The United Nations defines sustainability education as “envisioning – being able to imagine a better future.

“Sustainability development seeks to meet the needs of the present without compromising those of future generations. Sustainable development is a vision of development that encompasses respect for all life—human and non-human—and natural resources, as well as integrating concerns such as poverty reduction, gender equality, human rights, education for all, health, human security and intercultural dialogue,” defines the organization’s website, which outlines sustainability education as leading the international education agenda.

For students looking to earn an online MBA in sustainability, these colleges and universities offer programs, that like Cordero, can help make a difference tomorrow:

  • Antioch University of New England MBA in Sustainability: Students of Antioch University of New England’s MBA in Sustainability program are able to acquire the business and leadership skills needed to succeed in today’s more sustainable business environment. This school has a long history of a great Environmental Sciences program, and that history is effectively made a part of the MBA program as well, bringing ecology, earth systems, and complex systems thinking into studies. Special attention is made to introduce topics of sustainability, ethics, and social justice as a measure of organizational success, making AUNE’s MBA in Sustainability a great foundation for sustainable leaders.
  • Green Mountain College Sustainable MBA: Green Mountain College has had a focus on sustainability for more than 15 years, but in more recent years, their Sustainable MBA program has branched out to bring an environmental concern to the business world. Offered 100% online, students from around the world can enjoy the Sierra Magazine No. 1 rated sustainable education offered by Green Mountain.
  • California Lutheran University: CLU, which is accredited through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, offers an online MBA comprised of 15 courses totaling 45 credits (12 core courses and three electives). Online MBA courses are eight weeks in length and offered year-round. The program’s aim is to have students complete in two years. MBA students may take online or on-campus courses at any point during their program study.
  • Guelph University: The food and agribusiness management hybrid MBA teaches traditional MBA values and skills, but with a food industry-related core. Core MBA courses are taught in conjunction with specialized courses (there are a total of four required for each concentration). Students in the Guelph MBA program complete the majority of the program online, but there are mandatory resident requirements. Students spend one week to 10 days completing one-credit, intense “full-time” courses, which last five days, during their stay at the campus. Students have the “traditional” MBA experience of working closely with their peers but the rest of the course work allows students to continue working in their existing jobs. The course begins with a shorter face-to-face course, which allows classmates to meet. In total for the MBA program, students spend three weeks at the Guelph campus over the two-year program – the introductory course, a spring semester course and a final course before graduation. The online MBA program fee is $41,190 (CAD) and $45,240 (CAD) for international participants.

Follow Dustin Bass on Twitter @dustincbass.