In 2005 after several years working with the UN in sustainability issues internationally, I left to pursue an MBA at London Business School to learn more about what the business sector was doing in this area. The original plan had been to then go and work on these issues from within a company, working to make changes from the inside out.
However once I started the MBA I realized that students were not being adequately exposed to sustainability issues and had a very limited knowledge of what it all meant and how it could and was being applied to organizations of all shapes and sizes. By some estimates more than 60% of today’s business leaders have MBAs, not to mention those with undergraduate business degrees or that have passed through different executive training programmes. The majority of these students are still getting limited training in sustainability issues if any at all.
How can sustainability really be taken seriously, really move forward, if every year thousands of new managers are entering the ranks of business without being exposed to these issues. This goes beyond just business students; it includes future law makers, government officials, engineers. Imagine the change a whole new generation of managers and leaders could have on the business sector if they were armed with the knowledge and the tools to explore sustainability in their businesses and their jobs, whatever job that may be.
After being approached by many students asking about sustainability options and careers, in second year I decided to do something about it. I started a project focused on understanding why sustainability was not being addressed in the curriculum and what could be done to change that. One of my findings was that in order to really reach all students, and not just those who were already interested in these issues, the information needed to be embedded into the material already being taught.
So rather than waiting for things to change, I started working on a booklet that would be made available to the students and alumni that would give clear information on what sustainability was and how managers could use it. It would be organized according to the different classes taught in the MBA so that students could easily follow it and use it as part of their core courses, or apply it to their businesses. It would be full of tips, tools and useful advice on how to bring these ideas to whatever career they chose post graduation.
The idea was so well received that upon graduation I looked at ways to scale things up. Wiley believed in the project and agreed to publish it internationally as a book. I then set out to interview over 150 experts from business leaders, sustainability experts from NGOs and international organizations, academics, students and young managers from around the world in order to make the book as relevant and useful as possible.
This book provides a resource to educate the current and next generations of business leaders in how to use sustainability concepts and tools in a way that makes sense to both the business and to the planet. I spend a significant amount of my time doing workshops and speaking with students, faculty, business leaders, employees about sustainable business, creating a sense of excitement for what is possible and providing tools to move forward.
Today the book is being used by students, faculty, young managers, their bosses, entrepreneurs, green teams and anyone who is interested to learn what sustainable business is all about. Many business schools and companies are not only using it in training, but some are even providing copies to all incoming students and employees. Hopefully we will have a whole new generation of business leaders who speak the language of sustainable business and are ready to really move things forward in remarkable new ways.
In 2013, just a few days before my son was born, I submitted the manuscript for the second edition which came out internationally end 2013/early 2014. This new edition is not only updated but contains several new sections and resources to really help individuals become intrapraneurs in their organisations, making changes from the inside out for the benefit of both the organisation and the planet. The book is now also available in other languages including Japanese, Chinese and a special Indian edition.
The Sustainable MBA: A Business Guide to Sustainability is a contribution to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.