Academics and Research

Countdown to Commencement: New MBA grads help businesses become B Corps

Jacklyn Ward and Betsy Fischer believe businesses can be much more than a profit source for their owners or shareholders. The two have a passion for aligning companies’ vision, values and purpose with their internal practices.

It’s a passion Ward and Fischer realized during their full-time MBA program at the Daniels College of Business. They are two of more than 240 students who will graduate June 3 in MBA and MS programs from the college.

During their program, Ward and Fischer launched Castle Gray Consulting LLC, which uses the B Corporation (B Corp) assessment as a framework to analyze a company and identify improvement opportunities. Companies can also choose to go further in the B Corporation process and seek certification. B Corps are for-profit companies that meet environmental, social, accountability and transparency standards. Ben & Jerry’s, New Belgium Brewing, and Patagonia have jumped on the trend and are now certified B Corporations.

Ward and Fischer use the insights gained from the B Corp assessment to help companies develop strategies to be better businesses or incorporate the B Corp certification into their business models.

“The idea came when we were consulting for a wine group and touring through a sustainable vineyard in Sonoma,” Ward says. “We had just finished our first B Corp project and realized there are many companies who could benefit from this type of consulting.”

One of their clients, fishpond — a company that designs, develops and delivers products in the fly-fishing market — was looking to gain a competitive advantage by capitalizing on practices its leadership felt were already socially responsible.

“Betsy and Jacklyn were instrumental in the process of evaluating the areas of our business where we were already performing well, and (identifying) areas we could improve,” says Ben Kurtz, president of fishpond. Ultimately, the consulting firm helped fishpond become the first company in the fly-fishing space to become B Corp certified.

“They had experience and were able to guide us through the process,” Kurtz says. “They were both tremendous to work with and very well-organized.”

Ward and Fischer created a model for their business during an entrepreneurship class with Professor Sharon Alvarez and a business law class with Associate Professor Bruce Klaw. Klaw introduced the pair to Robert Hensley of the law firm Dorsey & Whitney, which donates time to Daniels students to help them with the legal aspects of entrepreneurship. Castle Gray launched when Hensley advised Ward and Fischer on setting up an operating agreement and engagement letter.

“The meeting gave us a ton of clarity,” Fischer says. “He helped set us up for success by creating professional documents and advising us on the legal aspects of intellectual property.”

To date, Fischer and Ward have successfully advised a number of companies in Colorado, across the nation and internationally. Fischer was an environmental planner before coming to Daniels, and Ward worked for Macy’s in merchandise planning. They say they would love for Castle Gray Consulting to take off and demand full-time attention. Until then, they plan to seek full-time positions in management consulting after graduation.

“The networking through Daniels has been really helpful,” Fischer says. “The alumni we’ve talked to have been really eager to see our business flourish.”



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