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Sparking Sustainable Change by Persuading Perspective

Kogod School of Business alumnus Jamian Rush is using his career to advance sustainability in business.


Kogod School of Business alumnus and Ergon sustainability specialist Jamian Rush.


Recent research shows that 90 percent of executives say sustainability is important, yet only 60 percent have a sustainability strategy. This means less than half of US companies currently take intentional steps to ensure they are ecologically viable despite claiming sustainability as a priority.

This implementation gap has a negative impact on more than just the environment. A sustainability strategy can reduce business costs substantially and affect operating profits by as much as 60 percent, according to McKinsey. It can also lead to a steep uptick in customer loyalty—up to 80 percent, by some measures.

Jamian Rush, Kogod MS in Sustainability Management ’21, is helping advance sustainability in business by inspiring his company to shift from concept to action.

As a sustainability specialist for Ergon, a global industrial and manufacturing service company focused on innovative products and service solutions, advocates for sustainable business practices daily. He acts as a bridge between customers and leadership by pitching ways to meet external needs—and optimize profit—by creating sustainable products.

“I'm an agitator, in a way; I get people to consider things they wouldn’t have otherwise,” says Rush. “But I’m also a facilitator. Once I see what customers want or get an idea, I try to mold leaderships’ vision toward that.”

Rush, who started as an intern in 2020, is already seeing his hard work pay off. Ergon is expanding its product portfolio to include renewable and recycled components and helping reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by using sustainable roadway treatments—a traditionally major source of carbon emissions.

It’s very rewarding when things go my way, but no matter what, I'm always learning.”


Jamian Rush

Sustainability Specialist, Ergon

One specific and timely way Ergon supports sustainability is by producing products that help reduce food waste.

In addition to its many products, the company manufactures process oils and waxes, which can coat produce to keep it fresh. This allows suppliers to ship produce long distances without spoiling, helping reduce costs for its customers—and ensuring people have access to the sustenance they need.

“I was able to paint the picture for them and say, “This is meaningful sustainable work,” says Rush as he spoke about Ergon's legacy of Doing Right. “This helps reduce food waste and saves energy and resources.”

But for Rush, the most meaningful Ergon initiative has nothing to do with manufacturing. Its Summer Bridge Program, a professional development initiative to mentor young Black engineers at Mississippi State University (MSU), is social sustainability-driven and especially close to his heart.

Rush works with young Black engineers, a historically underrepresented population in the field, to support them through a hands-on engineering project. At the end of the summer, a panel of experts evaluates student presentations and offers critical feedback that students can apply to their ongoing training.

As an outgrowth of the program, Rush also hosts an in-person book club focused on personal and professional growth. This allows him to build relationships with students during the year and provide a continued tool for growth.

I want to be someone that can affect change. It’s about contributing in a way that is helping the greater good.”


Jamian Rush

Sustainability Specialist, Ergon

Rush says his experiences at Kogod directly influenced this perspective.

As part of the MS in Sustainability Management international practicum, Rush had the opportunity to work with Stockholm-based tech company Hexicon to help shape its sustainability strategy. This allowed him to apply lessons learned at Kogod to a real-life project—and practice influencing a company’s sustainability strategy.

“It showed me I have the capability to talk to leadership at companies and let my voice be heard,” he says.

His professors were also instrumental in inspiring him to pursue this path.

“They showed me how to become an agent of change from the inside out by challenging people to think about things sustainably,” he says.

Moving forward, Rush wants to continue advocating for sustainable change at Ergon and beyond. He encourages others to adopt this same strategic mindset so that sustainability evolves into more than just an outcome—a business philosophy.

“Push for things, but also think about everything from 10,000 feet,” he says. “Don’t be closed off to new information; always be open and aware. If you’re going to do this, be an agent of change.”

Learn more about Jamian Rush in his feature on Ergon’s blog and Ergon’s sustainability practices at ergon.com/sustainability

Learn more about Kogod’s Master in Sustainability Management program at kogod.american.edu/programs-admissions/masters/sustainability-management-stem