EADA Sustainability Week 2023

19 May 2023

Sustainability Week 1From April 24th to April 28th we enjoyed a new edition of EADA’s Sustainability Week, which is one of the highlights of EADA’s international master’s programmes. It is a great opportunity for EADA’s participants to dig into key issues in sustainability and responsible management and also to study a topic outside their usual curriculum. During one week, all of them debated and analyzed a wide range of environmental and social issues while sharing the classroom with participants from the rest of the specialized masters.

In the EADA’s Sustainability Week 2023, we were joined by multicultural visiting faculty from both the academic and the corporate world who delivered a total of 7 courses that tackled sustainability in business from various angles. All of them provided EADA’s participants with actionable insights and solutions for today’s sustainability revolution. These were the issues reflected on during the week:

The effect of corporate innovative entrepreneurship on sustainability businesses: With this course, participants understood that the concept of innovation is associated with entrepreneurship and, therefore, corporate entrepreneurship. The seminar was given by Dr. Felipe Augusto Jánica, Global Partner at EY, who pointed out that “the best way for the organisations to find longevity is by implementing an innovation and corporate entrepreneurship culture.” To Jánica “this concept of corporate entrepreneurship refers to a process of creating a new business within established firms to improve organizational profitability and enhance a company’s competitive position or the strategic renewals of existing business”.

Managing humanitarian emergencies: In this seminar, participants were introduced to the main components required to respond to humanitarian emergencies: epidemics-pandemics, nutritional crises, natural disasters and complex emergencies.  It was given by Núria Salse, a Nutrition Consultant and an associate member of La Cooperativa Humanitaria, and Xavier Bartrolí, with almost 20 years of experience in humanitarian aid and Co-Founder of La Cooperativa Humanitaria. According to them, “humanitarian aid is an action provided in the moment of a disaster or crisis affecting populations; it is based on three pillars: save lives, alleviate suffering and provide dignity”. This seminar was an excellent chance to understand much better what can we transfer from the field of humanitarian emergencies to the business world: “Both business world and humanitarian actors share some common elements such as project management, team management and leadership, intention to satisfy the need of the beneficiaries/clients/target population, facing unstable / crisis situations, innovative approaches … Management skills and competencies needed in these contexts include flexibility, the capacity of adaption, stress management, integrative leadership, teamwork and team management based on trust and constant communication while requiring a risk-based approach.”

Sustainability Week 2Activist Shareholders and ESG Agendas, the controversial dilemma for leading consumer companies: This course was conducted by the entrepreneur, Professor and corporate leader Iván Cuesta, who gave 3 key points regarding what to do with activist shareholders: “First, build a response together with the company’s teams and experts in legal, financial, communication and investment matters. Secondly, understand activist’s proposals and analyze the pros and cons. And, finally, develop a response plan and open a dialogue with them”. Apart from this, Cuesta shared interesting insights on the ESG framework: “Politics, the financial press and mutual funds are focusing on the E (Environmental) and S (Social) of the ESG, but the G (Governance) is often forgotten, being too complex and too vague for them. However, Governance is the key to success and activist shareholders are increasingly playing this card to their targeted companies.”

ESG Investing: People, Power, Profit: This seminar was designed to complement participants’ quantitative skills in financial analysis and portfolio management with the conceptual and analytical insights needed to understand what is involved in integrating ESG factors into investment decision-making. It was conducted by Ph.D. Andrew Newton, is a consultant, an author, a researcher and an educator in matters of ESG investing. In his opinion, “investors, but also senior managers and finance departments within the companies they invest in, are learning more and more about the importance of ESG factors to decision-making.”

The Bioeconomy: A leverage point for system change: During this course, conducted by EADA Alumnus Daragh Cogley (Master in Sustainable Business & Innovation) and Key Account Manager at BCome, participants understood the interconnectedness of business decisions, the Earth’s natural systems and the economy. According to Cogley, “The world is facing a myriad of interconnected crises and reductionist thinking has proven insufficient at solving them.” In his opinion, “the ability to think in systems gives us the opportunity to solve these wicked problems and imagine a better world, in which business must be sustainable and even regenerative, rather than destructive or less bad.”

Sustainability Week 3Sustainable Fashion: Challenges, strategies and future scenarios. In this course, participants were challenged to go deeper behind the headlines of fashion and understand the consequences of emerging trends such as ‘buy less’ or ‘organic cotton’ for all stakeholders in the system, environmental resources and social justice. It was conducted by Ph.D. Julia Wolny, Associate Professor at EADA with wide expertise in Digital Innovation Strategy, who said that “businesses need to capture the importance and power of marketing to help change the system.” In her opinion, “normally in sustainable fashion, we talk about supply chains, yet it is media communication that perpetuates the current system and gives high value to fast fashion trends.”. Wolny added: “This is why among other topics, we are exploring creative ways that fashion can convey messages ‘for good’.”

Scenarios for sustainability: Ph.D. Martin Kunc, Professor of Management Science at the University of Southampton Business School, told participants about developing scenarios by following well-established methodologies, understanding the future challenges of sustainability and generating novel narratives to perceive different futures in terms of sustainability. To Kunc, "The scenario-planning process is designed to challenge mental models of decision makers so they can perceive the future through logical stories based on cause-and-effect.” To him, “scenarios are widely used tools by companies, governments and NGOs within their strategic planning process to design and evaluate strategies.”