As he watched his neighboring Nevada mountains disappear under a plume of smoke in the summer of 2021, Danny Dudley felt a new sense of urgency for environmental conservation. This experience helped clear a personal haze about his future and led him toward local sustainability efforts, law research, student leadership, and the strategy program in the BYU Marriott School of Business.
Passionate about the environment, Dudley began his undergraduate experience studying environmental science. But he quickly realized that pursuing life sciences would require over ten years of undergraduate and graduate schooling before even starting a career. Dudley wanted to make a positive environmental impact sooner. “There are so many pressing environmental issues that can’t wait,” Dudley says.
He asked himself, “What can I do in my career within the next five to ten years to start thinking about and solving these problems in a more efficient way?” That’s when his roommate recommended the strategic management program. Through strategic management, Dudley realized he can bring together his love for both environmental science and business.
“Strategy to me is a problem-solving program that allows you to provide structure to ambiguous and difficult problems,” Dudley explains. “Students go into diverse fields at the end of the program.” From banking and law to marketing and entrepreneurship ventures, the strategic management program lets students pursue their unique interests and passions. Dudley hopes to use his degree to consult with businesses about incorporating more environmentally friendly tactics.
After beginning the program, Dudley quickly joined multiple on-campus efforts to combine his studies with his interest in conservation. Dudley meets weekly with law professor Brigham Daniels, who mentors him in researching environmental policy. “Professor Daniels took me under his wing and provided really important feedback on projects and essays I was working on,” Dudley says. His evolving research with Daniels has helped him understand more about the relationship between environmental policy and business incentive. “Companies can have a competitive advantage when they protect the environment; implementing environmental policy can help them improve their tactics,” Dudley explains.
Climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe pointed out in her 2022 BYU forum address that improving tactics can start with public conversation: “The number one thing that young people can do to address the climate crises is to talk about it.” Inspired by her speech, Dudley and other interested students joined the Y Talk sustainability initiative. The goal of this initiative is to create or find over a million different conversations about climate change within the BYU student community. These conversations could be verbal or multimedia messages exchanged between students. Conversations are submitted via a QR code on the Y Talk website. “We were able to create a data visualization of tens of thousands of conversations of all the students on and off campus,” Dudley explains. “There were students all the way in Asia on a study abroad who were talking about environmental issues.”
Dudley also brought his business and ecology experience to the discussion on the Utah Lake Restoration Project. “Most of the people at these student discussions are life science majors, and it is really cool for me to add a new perspective,” Dudley says.
At BYU Marriott, Dudley works with the strategic management program to organize events and mentor students inside and outside the program. Excited about the versatility of strategy, Dudley seeks to share the program with students who have various interests and passions.
All of these experiences, and the wide variety of classes offered within the BYU strategic management program, give Dudley confidence that he can make a positive impact when he graduates later this year. He plans to join Wood Mackenzie, an energy research and consulting company, where he’ll be able to help the firm accelerate the renewable energy transition. Dudley is excited to take his strategy skills to ignite environmental conservation and change through business.
Written by: Alice Gubler