SUSTAINABILITY SHOULD BE ‘BAKED INTO MORE COMPANIES’ DNA’
Holloway isn’t alone in his hopes for the future of the planet. Jessica Iida, an MBA candidate at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business in Canada, says that she has “high hopes that sustainability will continue to become a priority for both businesses and individuals.”
“I hope that in future that sustainability can be baked into more companies’ DNA as it becomes a table stakes precursor for success in the 21st century.”
At work, Iida, a Sustainability Program Manager for an apparel retailer, is always looking for new ways “to keep materials in their highest and best use as long as possible” in order to eliminate waste. For her, it’s about breaking away from the ‘take-make-waste’ approach to retail and instead looking to get as much life out of products as possible.
Living in Vancouver, she says that she’s been “relatively sheltered” from the effects of climate change, but it’s Iida’s work in particular that makes her acutely aware of the damage being done to the planet.
Still studying on the Sauder MBA, Iida has already identified “resilient leadership” as a key factor in being impactful. “There is no one formula to driving organizational change, so navigating fast-moving and often ambiguous business environments to shift away from the status quo takes an immense amount of vision, persistence, and the ability to lead and influence people at all levels of an organization,” she says.
“My studies have continued to give me the tools and skills needed to effectively lead change.”
‘DON’T FEEL DISHEARTENED BY THE SCALE OF THE PROBLEM’
One individual who definitely understands the importance of sustainability in the fashion retail sector is Liz Lipton-McCombie. As the Director for Global Sustainability at the world’s most recognisable jeans company, Levi Strauss & Co, finding sustainable solutions for the clothing sector has long been on Lipton-McCombie’s agenda.
Originally from Alamo, California, she travelled all the way to London to study on the Imperial College Business School MBA programme. It was during her studies that, much like Iida, the importance of leadership was confirmed for Liz. “I would say that my studies confirmed my belief in the value of being a good leader, at which ever level you operate, and helped me define what I consider to be a good leader.”
Following her time on the Imperial MBA, Lipton-McCombie has taken the skills she picked up in London and harnessed them to drive sustainability projects at firms such as Li & Fung, The Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Elevate Global and of course Levi Strauss & Co.
Reflecting on her years of experience, when asked what advice should would give to anyone wanting to live in a more sustainable manner, she replies: “Don’t feel disheartened by the scale of the problem, it is worth making personal changes and thinking about your ability to positively contribute to a more sustainable future.”
‘WE STILL HAVE MANY THINGS TO ACCOMPLISH’
It’s true, every little contribution, when added up, makes a whole lot of difference. And when those “Heroes of Change”, as Rose-May Lucotte and Santiago Lefebvre – alumni of France’s emlyon Business School’s– call them, come together we can find solutions to some of the planet’s greatest issues.
That’s the rationale behind ChangeNOW, Lucotte and Lefebrve’s initiative which organises an annual event, bringing people who are working to find and create solutions to global issues together under one roof. According to the emlyon MSc Management graduates, the purpose of this event is to enable those working tirelessly to find solutions to global challenges to “connect with the right people to grow their solution at scale, and ultimately solve our most urgent global issues: climate, resources, biodiversity and inclusion.”
What started out in 2017 as an event with around 2000 participants has transformed over the space of two to three years into a global forum, hosting 28,000 people and with around 1000 solutions coming from over 100 countries. As the organisers put it, the event has become “the first World Expo of innovations for the planet.”
For Lucotte and Lefebrve, it was the soft skills they learnt while studying at emlyon that have proved invaluable to their work.
“Beyond the technical aspects of business and management, the school also emphasizes soft skills. Early in the program, we are taught how to connect with alumni, with business people and how to network. Networking is important to build collaboration and ecosystems.”
With such a strong educational background behind each of them, and with ChangeNOW on what looks like an almost vertical trajectory, Lucotte and Lefebvre are optimistic about their future: “ChangeNOW is only at the beginning. We still have many things to accomplish, starting by uniting even more heroes of change.”
But, needless to say, Rose-May and Santiago have their eyes set firmly on a much, much bigger prize: “We definitely hope that one day we will be able to say that we’ve made it and that by acting collectively for the greater good, we managed to reverse the odds. We hope also that the future generations will regain faith in the future and will be proud of the world we’ve created in the next decades.”
This is arguably true of all the business school alumni featured in this piece. When all is said and done, the one collective goal that business has – that the world has – is undoing the damage that has been done to our planet. And so, for these b-school grads, the message is clear – do what you can, don’t be deterred by the odds, and that a little can go a long way.
MEET THE SUSTAINABILITY GRADS: 15 EXTRAORDINARY B-SCHOOL GRADUATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Katherine Neebe, University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business
Alison Alvarez, Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business
Jean Moreau, ESSEC Business School
Ricky Ashenfelter & Emily Malina, MIT’s Sloan School of Management
Daniele Pes, MIP Politecnico Di Milano
Wendy Rayner, Alliance Manchester Business School
Erica Kostense, Nyenrode Business University
Angeline Gross, University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business
Jessica Iida, University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business
Liz Lipton-McCombie, Imperial College Business School
Rose-May Lucotte & Santiago Lefebvre, emlyon business school
Jeff Denby, UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business
Surabhi Agrawal, Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business
AND CHECK OUT MORE OF P&Q‘S WORLD EARTH DAY COVERAGE: