This series features reflections from our alumni on their school experiences and their aspirations, learnings, challenges, and joys. Here, Alicia Seiger talks to Stanford GSB about how the “embarrassment of riches” on campus can further career goals and pay dividends for life.
“I said ‘yes’ to as much as I could pack in and didn’t sleep much while I was an MBA student,” recalls Alicia Seiger, MBA ’02. “I took classes at other Stanford schools, and ‘Touchy Feely’ of course; I went on trips with classmates; I co-led the Environmental Management Club; I got to know the faculty and staff at the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies; and I played a lot of soccer and Ultimate Frisbee.”
Now, as deputy director of Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy & Finance, Seiger often finds herself counseling students from Stanford GSB.
“One of the bits of unsolicited advice I often give MBAs is to immerse themselves in the opportunities here,” she says. “Sometimes students come to Stanford GSB so focused on their future that they don’t fully appreciate their present. Being an MBA student at Stanford is an incredible experience that pays lifelong dividends. I urge them to spend time with their classmates and take advantage of all the university has to offer.”
Seiger grew up near Stanford and attended Duke University, where she majored in environmental science and policy and cultural anthropology. Just as the dot-com boom was heating up, she returned to the Bay Area to become the ninth employee at Flycast Communications, a pioneering web advertising network later acquired by CMGI. Her subsequent decision to attend Stanford Graduate School of Business was an attempt to get back to her real passion: sustainability. As she says, “I wanted to use my understanding of business and entrepreneurship to create market-based solutions to environmental problems.”
Since graduating, Seiger has helped design and execute climate and energy strategies for businesses, foundations, investors, and nongovernmental organizations. She has also served on the management teams of multiple startups, including TerraPass, a social enterprise that uses proceeds from member purchases to fund projects that reduce greenhouse gases, such as wind farms and methane digesters.
Seiger’s current position at the Steyer-Taylor Center has allowed her to push still harder for a sustainable and prosperous future by designing innovative financial mechanisms, writing papers, and conducting workshops aimed at policymakers and investors. In winter 2018, she will add teaching to her resume with a new seminar at the law school: Climate Politics, Finance, and Infrastructure, which she is designing with Thomas Heller, Stanford law professor emeritus.
“Particularly when it comes to energy and climate,” Seiger says, “there’s an embarrassment of riches on this campus. You’ve got almost too many former Department of Energy top executives to count, not to mention all the world-class scientists, technologists, economists, and systems thinkers scattered across the university.”
All of which brings her back to the subject of advice. Ideas and opportunities, she says, are institutionalized in Stanford’s people.
“Getting to know people across campus who are interested in the things that you’re interested in is the key to unlocking the resources of the university,” Seiger says.