Student Spotlight: Emily Hansroth

By: Alec Masella

Environmental and Safety engineer Emily Hansroth focuses on health and safety compliance issues at aerospace and defense company Lockheed Martin. Her professional role, along with a desire to return to her environmental science roots, provided the motivation she needed to join the current Executive Master of Natural Resources (XMNR) cohort in January.

“If you know you have some kind of passion for an environmental topic, being part of the [XMNR] program is beneficial. It provides the big picture,” she explains.

As an undergraduate at Virginia Tech, Emily majored in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Aquatic Biology. After graduation, she began consulting for URS Corporation and then moved to Lockheed Martin six years later. She’s been n her current position for three years.

Students come to VT’s MNR degree from diverse educational and professional backgrounds. Often, they’re looking to make a career pivot. But Emily’s personal goal is to deepen her understanding of global sustainability and environmental issues through a corporate lens. “I’m not like a lot of students,” Emily explains, “I did the program to supplement my current career path.”

Emily believes her graduate education will allow her to help Lockheed Martin improve and align its Environment, Safety, and Health management system. “This project will involve a significant amount of stakeholder engagement and continued communication with leadership to be successful,” she explains.

She won’t complete the MNR degree until December, but Emily has already applied what she’s learned to facilitate a project-planning event at Lockheed, and she participated in benchmarking activities with other companies to understand how they are tackling similar projects, too. The XMNR program has given Emily the experience she needs to identify environmental stakeholders, and to develop specific plans of action for her employer.

The XMNR is a hybrid program that combines online instruction with monthly in-person intensive weekends. Approximately half of face-to-face classroom time is spent working in teams. Emily says she appreciates the opportunity to practice teamwork and hone her interdisciplinary communication skills. She quickly realized her classmates offer unique perspectives on global sustainability and, as she explains, the in-person interaction “reinforces collaboration and learning about other’s backgrounds.”

As a result, Emily has already brought improved problem-solving skills back to Lockheed. She’s learned to approach environmental problems from several angles, allowing for a more efficient and open-minded approach to problem solving. “As a corporate group, we have to work with different parts of the organization… listening to others’ perspectives to develop more programs and become more engaged with sustainability.”

As an undergrad, Emily’s coursework centered on technical fundamentals. “Before the [XMNR] program began,” she says, “I expected to mainly work on science-y stuff.” But the XMNR program focuses on understanding the holistic impact companies have on the environment—the who and the how. “It’s more about communication and perspective, “Emily explains. “Networking skills and stakeholder information are also very critical.”

In order to work effectively with diverse stakeholders, a global sustainability leader needs to interact with people from other disciplines and comprehend the many levels at which impact occurs. Emily has developed contacts from other professions and networked with individuals who can help her execute environmental projects, both of which will further her career at Lockheed.

The Executive Master of Natural Resources program provides countless opportunities to sharpen environmental leadership skills alongside others with similar interests. Emily looks forward to weekends with her cohort, and being part of an innovative group of people. “I didn’t expect to build such strong relationships right off the bat!”