Q&A with Doctoral Student Al Zucco, USG Senior Director for Energy & Sustainability

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Al Zucco is USG’s Senior Director for Energy & Sustainability, and also a doctoral student in Cohort 3 of the Ph.D./D.B.A. program in values-driven leadership. We recently asked Al about his experiences – at work, and as a student returning to the classroom.

Question: What’s your professional background?

Answer: I’ve worked at USG for 27 years in a variety of roles. I started as a manufacturing engineer in a plant, moved into management and now work in corporate. My team is responsible for energy – buying and efficiency, sustainability strategy and implementation, product safety and health and environmental.

Question: What surprises you about the program, now that you’re a student? 

Answer: It’s more introspective than I anticipated. My professional life doesn’t usually allow for that sort of introspection. I learned more about myself, and more about how groups can do well, and how they can falter, how I can get them back on track. 

Question: What does the program require from you, in terms of time? 

Answer: I need about 20 hours a week for the course reading and papers. I do much of it on Saturday and Sunday, plus commute times on the train. Some weeks that just doesn’t work, especially when I’m traveling for work, and I have to make it up in the next week. Making the schedule work is a challenge, but it’s achievable.

Question: What do you think makes this program special?

Answer: The caliber of the program’s faculty. They understand what it takes to go through a program like this, and they understand what it’s like to be in the business world. They’re very supportive and make it easy to be successful in the program. 

Also, the visiting scholar model – these are the leaders in the field. It’s an incredible feature of the program. To have them share their perspectives, to engage you in conversation, is one of the most exciting pieces. They know their field inside and out.

Question: Is the program having any impact on the way you work?

Answer: Yes. I have the background and experience I need for my job; where I can use the most growth is in leadership, expanding my ability to work with people and help the organization flourish. And that’s something I can give back, to my colleagues and in the future, when I hope to teach. 

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Learn more about the doctoral program, www.cvdl.org/doctorate.

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