Contact: Tim Lucas, 919/613-8084, tdlucas@duke/edu
Story by Sergio Tovar, social media specialist
DURHAM, N.C. – When Sergio Castillo took over his father’s sustainability and environmental consulting company in 2009, he soon realized that his MBA degree wouldn’t be enough to run the business.
“I lacked knowledge in the environmental field, so I looked up the best programs in the nation that had a master’s degree in environmental management and I found Duke,” said Castillo, president and CEO of Eco BCG. “I’m glad I chose it.”
Castillo, a native of Panama, said he had a fantastic experience in the Duke Environmental Leadership Master of Environmental Management (DEL-MEM) program, where he not only got the education he needed in environmental policy and other intricacies of the field but also where he developed invaluable relationships that are now benefitting him professionally.
“I made a lot of good friendships,” said Castillo, a 2013 graduate of the online master’s program at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “Not only did we become friends, but I learned a lot from colleagues who had a lot of experience and today we’re doing business together.”
Castillo’s DEL-MEM classmate Page Gravely is now the vice president of global business development for Eco BCG, which has shifted its focus to offering technology solutions for industrial customers in energy efficiency and water treatment.
Gravely said he got a call from Castillo about a year and a half after graduation with the idea that they collaborate. Gravely started off consulting for Eco BCG.
“That allowed me to learn a lot more about the company and it just segued into a full-time role that we both agreed would be a good match,” Gravely said.He added that the nature of the DEL-MEM program – having small classes and fostering collaboration – helped magnify his friendship, and later business relationship, with Castillo.
“People like to do business with people they know and trust,” said Gravely. “And you certainly develop those friendships and trust in that kind of small, executive environment.”
Castillo agreed, explaining that the beauty of the program is that it creates the opportunity and the environment – through class trips and other time spent together – to really get to know your classmates.
“You create a bond with them,” he said. “And that really makes you feel more comfortable when you need to have conversations with them and learn from them.”
Jesse Howley, a 2013 DEL-MEM graduate who has been consulting with Castillo’s company, said that the program creates a network of multidisciplinary, cross-skillset people who you can collaborate with.
“These people are scattered throughout the country,” Howley said. “It’s just an amazing resource to have at your disposal.”
Matthew Burks, another 2013 DEL-MEM graduate who serves in an advisory role for Eco BCG, said that building this network of environmental professionals is priceless.
“I have this wide breadth of resources I can plug into,” he said. “I’ve been lucky to do that.”
Castillo said those connections go beyond the DEL-MEM program and even the Nicholas School. He explained that Duke alumni are open to meeting with fellow alumni and doing business.
“The Duke family has been tremendously helpful in developing my business and strengthening it.”