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Marina Dirks

Meet Marina – Director, Global Sustainability at Tiffany & Co and MSc Business & Economics alum.

Describe your role and what it is that you do overall and on a day-to-day basis: 

In 2018, I joined Tiffany & Co. as Director – Global Sustainability. In that role, I’m responsible for identifying and monitoring key sustainability topics that are important for the Company and our stakeholders, and I drive the development of Tiffany & Co.’s sustainability strategy and goals that define how we address these topics. The topics range from human rights, living wage and diversity & inclusion to responsible sourcing, traceability, climate change, biodiversity & ecosystems, circular economy and sustainable buildings. We partner closely with internal teams on integrating sustainability further into the business. Once we are executing our plans and work towards our goals, I’m responsible for tracking progress and measuring our impact. 

It’s hard to describe my work on a day-to-day basis because every day is different – that’s part of the reason why I find my job so exciting. 

What interested you about the field you are currently in? 

I am passionate about my work and the topics work on, and I’m proud to work for such an iconic American brand that has been a sustainability leader for a long time. It’s very rewarding for me to work on our sustainability strategy, which is closely linked to our business strategy. I get to see a lot of different areas of our business and our supply chain. At the same time, I’m also involved in implementation, so I see the impact we create, both for our business and for society. That gives me a sense of purpose. 

Why did you choose to study your subject area at SSE? 

A few things stood out for me about SSE – its excellent reputation, top-class academic education paired with close relationships with the private sector, and the fact that the school succeeds in being international while maintaining its Swedish identity. I also found the prospect of living in Sweden exciting. The decision to study at SSE was really one of the best decisions I’ve made so far in my life (following the decision to marry my husband, who I met at SSE!). 

How did your time/education at SSE help guide you to the career journey you have embarked on? 

came to SSE for the Master in Management with a focus on Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. I had graduated from Witten/Herdecke University in Germany with a Bachelor in Business & Economics, and during that time was already interested in sustainability. Today, there are a number of degrees available that focus on sustainability management, but at the time, those didn’t exist, so I integrated sustainability into my business education as much as possible. I interned at UNEP Finance Initiative, took some classes in the topic and wrote my Master Thesis on Social Entrepreneurship. I think I probably went to every lunch lecture on Sustainability that was offered. I wish Misum existed already during my time at SSE! 

The courses I took were a great preparation for my career – what I learned about strategy development, competitive advantage and organizations has been highly relevant to my work. Beyond the content, the education prepared me well to take on a leadership role. 

What path did you take from graduation to where you are now? 

After graduating from SSE, I started to work with a boutique consulting firm called Schlange & Co. back home in Hamburg. The firm specializes in all aspects of sustainability management, including materiality assessments, strategy development and goal-setting, implementation, performance measurement, reporting and stakeholder engagement. I got a lot of exposure to very different companies across industries, both in Europe and abroad, and learned the foundations of what a sustainability professional needs to know. In 2014, I moved to New York City, where I established the US office for the firm. These were very intense and exciting years.

In 2018, Tiffany & Co. offered me the job I do now. After almost seven years in consulting, it was time for a change and I very much enjoy working on the company side now. Tiffany is a great employer, and it’s a privilege to work for a company that has been truly committed to sustainability for over two decades and where I feel I can make a difference with my work. 

Following your time studying and living in Stockholm, do you have any words of wisdom or advice you would like to share with our current students?

If you’re interested in an area that is not as popular (yet), don’t be discouraged. Find others with similar interests and don’t think you need to do what everyone else does. That’s hard sometimes, but it helps you find your passion.

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