We all know sustainability is an important issue when it comes to the growth of a business, but what steps can we take to ensure it is fully ingrained in each and every business decision?
For me, the significance of education in driving sustainability cannot be overestimated. Education is key to driving innovative, sustainable solutions to business-critical issues, and it is the responsibility of business and education providers to work together to ensure future leaders are fully equipped for the challenges they will face.
In order to do this, we must teach students both academic theories and practical applications to help tackle issues such as climate change, resource scarcity and labour. Sustainable education has to be as practical as possible, with students given real-life case studies to help prepare them for the workplace. After all, businesses are looking for graduates that have a sound knowledge of sustainability issues and who will be capable of handling these challenges in the future.
Some business schools have already begun to integrate social and environmental sustainability throughout the syllabus, but more needs to be done to ensure this holistic approach to business is at the forefront of management and leadership competencies and not simply a bolt-on.
It is for this reason Nespresso, in partnership with Latin America’s leading business school INCAE and sustainability advisors CIMS, developed the Nespresso Sustainability MBA Challenge. Established in 2013, the challenge aims to encourage the business leaders of tomorrow to create innovative solutions to the challenges Nespresso faces as a global business. The MBA Challenge strives to educate students across the world about the importance of sustainability in business through a real-life case study. For example, this year students were asked to propose a greenhouse gas strategy that will allow Nespresso to continue to make a positive impact on AAA farms and coffee communities while creating sustainable economic and environmental value for the company and its customers.
During the challenge, we provided the participating schools with access to the intricacies of Nespresso’s own business model, including in-depth analysis of elements of the supply chain and processes, to allow them to develop applicable submissions. This is a high level of access to a company’s workings and reflects our company’s commitment to delivering sustainable solutions in a meaningful way.
70 business schools worldwide took part in this year’s challenge and the three finalists — Rollins College, Yale University and the University of Michigan (the winner) — travelled to our headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland to present their ideas. The finalists not only gained insight into the challenges we are addressing as a business, they also had the opportunity to meet people working to solve these problems.
Now in its second year, the Nespresso Sustainability Challenge has proved a huge success and we have received some great feedback for this type of learning from students and academics alike.
Sustainability is crucial for long-term business growth but for this growth to occur, businesses must evolve, and fast. I am not alone in this vision, but in order for it to be realised, companies and education providers must continue to work closely together to develop training and courses that will provide real benefit to students. We must invest time and resource into developing the talent pool to ensure the long-term growth of business and it is imperative we invest now.