Programs & Courses

Program Spotlight: Sustainable Innovation

Industry insight into why sustainability is critical

Leader in strategic management brings experience in renewable energy, social science and economics to MHC’s new Sustainable Innovation Diploma

For some, the words sustainability and innovation may seem as nothing more than buzzwords being touted by today’s business world, but Rochelle Pancoast, managing director of strategic management and analysis with the City of Medicine Hat, understands these concepts are the way of the future and a growing consumer expectation for any business seeking long-term success. 

“Sustainability isn’t a new concept. It’s been relevant for over 20 years, but its importance is growing. Companies are understanding, at a greater degree, their impact and responsibility as it pertains to environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies.”

Rochelle boasts an impressive resume. Prior to her career with the City of Medicine Hat, she worked with TransAlta, a company that owns, operates and develops a diverse fleet of electrical power generation assets in Canada, the United States and Australia. They are one of Canada’s largest producers of wind, and Alberta’s largest producer of hydroelectric power.

The Medicine Hat resident started her career with TransAlta as a business analyst trading greenhouse gas credits in a market that didn’t yet exist and throughout her 19 years with the company, grew to hold a number of leadership roles.

Some of her many notable successes with the company included her role as director of wind operations where she led Canada’s largest wind generation business, and her position as managing director of gas and renewables, where she was responsible for leading and coordinating activities to drive long-term profitability of the company’s wind, hydro, solar and gas assets.

Rochelle also served as chair on the Canadian Wind Energy Association’s (CanWEA) board.

Beyond her passion for the environment and the energy sector, Rochelle brings experience in economics, strategy, and the social sciences (specifically that study of human choice and behaviours under conditions of scarcity).

For Medicine Hat College, Rochelle’s knowledge, experience and areas of passion made her a valuable addition to their advisory committee for the Sustainable Innovation program.

“In the past, the topic of sustainability has often been siloed, where someone is just looking at the environmental impact or solely at the business side of things, but to integrate all the different elements like social sciences, economics and the environment is so valuable. Graduates will be able to help drive holistic outcomes that will be beneficial for society and their careers.”

Future students of the program have been described as change-leaders who have a desire for something better – characteristics that Rochelle believes are important in the field.

In terms of career opportunities for students, the industry leader mentions that this is a field of growth.

“Overall, there is a growing corporate and organizational consciousness of the impact our decisions are having on a society, the environment and our economy. This is certainly true in Canada, but even globally,” says Rochelle. “Examples of this mindset range - people are starting to think about things like where their clothes are being made, or if they are being made in a way that aligns with their values. There is a consciousness around global warming along with other things.”

Rochelle notes that although the program will provide the base fundamentals and tools to help motivate change, she is most excited to see what students do with that knowledge.

“There will be more and more career opportunities and chances for students to drive value across society and the environment and help solve critical problems that need to be addressed. I am looking forward to seeing the success of the program and of the students.”

As learners go through the program, Rochelle encourages them to continue to broaden their perspective, think about the impact they can have in the world and continue to see the bigger picture.

For more information on MHC’s new Sustainable innovation diploma, visit