Alumni Spotlight: Todd Foster

photo of Todd Foster

  • MEn in Environmental Science (2000); MBA in Business Administration (2001)
  • manager of capital & projects at Safran, a major international aerospace, defense, and security company
  • member of Institute for the Environment and Sustainability (IES) Advisory Board
  • shared his experiences with IES students on campus (February 2019)

My Profession

"My undergraduate degree is in environmental science, and my interests have always been on the life and physical sciences and our interaction with the environment with which we all live. I am not a preservationist, but more of a pragmatist, and I was interested in Miami's 'realistic' approach to this field, understanding that humans require food, energy, and other resources to survive and prosper.

"Due to my somewhat unique blend of graduate degrees in both environmental science and business administration, I learned to make strong business cases to powerful business decision-makers for projects or initiatives that in some way, shape, or form helped our natural environment.

"In the private sector, most decisions are driven by money, and the easiest/best way to get 'things' done is to make a strong business case. What I have learned throughout my career is that many higher-level business executives will approve most any project or initiative if it can be shown to reduce costs, reduce regulatory liability, and/or otherwise contribute to the financial bottom line. This is a crucial concept to understand, because knowing this allows for strategically-minded professionals like us to leverage the business interests in a way that benefits the environment."

Best Miami Experiences

"I have always been interested in the historically, antagonistic forces of modern industrialization and environmental stewardship, and Miami allowed me the space to explore ways in which our current and future needs for clean air, fresh drinking water, critical resources, and food sources can be compatible and sustainable in modern industrial economies.

"I had never heard of National Public Radio (NPR) before attending professor John Bailer's statistics class in the fall of 1997. In nearly every class, he would integrate information he had heard earlier that morning listening to NPR into the topic of the day. Not only did this help my understanding of statistics, but I have been an active listener and ardent supporter of NPR ever since.

"My business school cohort was internationally diverse, with several students from India and China, most of whom were very focused on business matters without ever having the opportunity to be exposed to the environmental sciences. I very much enjoyed integrating my environmentally-conscious ethos into most of our debates and case studies, and my intent and hope was that many of these aspiring business executives would someday think back upon these spirited debates when making business decisions."

Miami and the Liberal Arts

"A liberal arts education will be more powerful in the future than in any time in our history. Tomorrow's decision makers, whether they be in the government, private sector, or not-for-profit sector, must be able to effectively solve incredibly complicated problems, problems that cannot be fully understood by those with highly focused training and limited life experiences. I believe that the liberal arts allows students to experience a broad range of ideas and experiences they will need if they are to keep a truly open mind when addressing future challenges regarding environmental issues.

"I have witnessed IES graduates make a number of achievements: progress to the leading edge of scientific research, teach science to middle school students, contribute to the effectiveness of the Ohio EPA and countless other governmental and non-profit environmental agencies, attain doctoral degrees in a myriad of fields, and make a positive difference in the private sector as consultants or environmental professionals in the automobile, food and beverage, aerospace, printing, energy, mining, and paper and forestry industries, among many others. With the problem-solving skills attained in earning the Master of Environmental Science (MEn) degree at Miami, there are very few careers these graduates are not well equipped to pursue."

Advice to Students

"Be ambitious, treat every potential obstacle as an opportunity to be strategic towards success, be true to your values, and follow your passions no matter what they may be. Passion drives success! Don't be afraid to be the difference maker.

"Few people, if any, can achieve great things completely on their own, so decide today to be an enabler of greatness by finding ways to assist those around you. If you choose to actively support others, the breadth and depth of your contributions will know no bounds."

[March 2019]