Stuart School of Business alumna and Navy Pier Sustainability Program Manager Savitha Chelladurai (M.B.A. ’15) has been honored as one of Midwest Energy News’ 40 Under 40 Award winners for 2019.
The magazine annually highlights emerging leaders and innovators from all sectors—industry, government, regulatory, business, academia, nonprofit, and advocacy—throughout the Midwest region and their work in America’s transition to a clean energy economy.
Chelladurai was hired a year ago to lead Navy Pier’s sustainability agenda related to waste, energy, water, and transportation, she says, as well as to integrate sustainability into the visitor experience in ways that are engaging, informative, and—fittingly, given the towering Ferris wheel that marks the Pier on Chicago’s lakefront—fun and uplifting.
“Being right on Lake Michigan, the water is very front of mind for everyone,” Chelladurai notes. “We need to be really good stewards of our environment, [which] feels like both an obligation and an opportunity.”
With nine million visitors annually, Navy Pier in Chicago is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Illinois. It’s also the site of a large and growing workforce. A section of the Pier is currently a construction site, as a hotel is being added to the mix of restaurants and shops, theatres, radio station, convention and conference venues, parking, and other attractions and services.
“It’s a challenge,” says Chelladurai. “If you’re adding things into the site, how do you continue to reduce your impacts on the environment?”
Chelladurai’s Master of Business Administration studies at Stuart included a specialization in sustainability. “I was always a person who thought about the impact we are having on our environment, both positively and negatively,” she says. Realizing that she could have more effect on environmental issues by making them the focus of her professional life, she decided to go back to school to prepare for a career shift. Stuart was the right fit, she says, because of its strong program and top faculty in sustainability and environmental management.
Chelladurai also sits on the Associate Board for the Delta Institute, a nonprofit which collaborates with communities to solve environmental challenges.
Midwest Energy News is a publication of Fresh Energy, an independent nonprofit organization with the goal of speeding the transition to a clean energy economy.