Let’s educate managers of tomorrow that compete to be the best for the world!

 

When I went to business school over 20 years ago, I learnt hands on some important soft skills that helped me navigate a career in Marketing and Communications in a multinational, corporate environment. Among others, I can highlight teamwork and intercultural competencies, as key to grow as a professional and improve business performance. However, back then, sustainability and business ethics were not part of the agenda.    

In its latest Global Risk Report, the World Economic Forum identified that for the first time in the survey’s 10-year outlook, the top five global risks in terms of likelihood are all environmental. Business leaders are struggling already today to cope and navigate their companies in an increasing VUCA context (volatile, uncertain, complex , ambiguous), the Covid-19 crisis being a “foretaste” of what businesses will be facing with climate change and global warming (among other sustainability issues such as biodiversity loss and resource depletion).

Furthermore, sustainability issues are and will be today’s students’ “daily bread” when they become the managers and business leaders of tomorrow. So we need a major shift of how we define business, and business education for that matter. And we need the young generation on board, to be able to navigate this change in the 21st century. 

 

Business education stepping up

Fortunately, higher business education has started integrating Sustainability-focused courses and specialized programs into curricula, also driven by demand of the young generation themselves, more aware of sustainability issues than we were back then, over 20 years ago! 

 

This includes my Alma Mater, ESB Reutlingen, that has started to integrate business ethics and climate change into topics taught to business students. In this context, it was a great pleasure and honor for me to “go back” (virtually!) as guest lecturer end of May 2020, to teach a week-long seminar on Sustainable Business and Strategy to International Business Bachelor Students. 

During the week, we had a look at how climate change and other sustainability issues impact businesses – and how businesses impacts people and the planet. And what (and how) businesses can do to reduce its negative externalities and create shared value for society and the planet. We also explored how each one of us can take action in our jobs and company functions. At the end of the week, students had fun and did a fantastic job in “hacking for the SDGs” to find business solutions for the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

 

Call to action

As Andrew Kassoy, B Lab co-founder and “business as a force for good movement” initiator said:

“If we want to have a shared, endurable prosperity, all business has to be competing not only to be best in the world, but best for the world.”

Business leaders and leaders at business education institutions: let’s educate managers of tomorrow  striving to be the best for the world, equipped with resilience and societal acumen to be able to navigate the 21st century. 

 

Written by Marena Eirich,  Business Sustainability consultant, coach and trainer. Founder at teams4purpose®

 

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Image credit: Ben White on Unsplash

 

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