Simply put, sustainable leadership is about making sustainable business decisions, which take into account the interests of all stakeholders including the environment and future generations.
Leading sustainably makes business sense too. According to McKinsey, companies with sustainable business models can increase their profits by up to 60%.
Since completing her Executive MBA at Copenhagen Business School (CBS), Tina has bolstered her sustainable leadership skills and driven impactful change in her organization.
Here’s three ways the Copenhagen EMBA helped her become a sustainable leader.
1. Sustainable leaders need to think like EMBAs
During any EMBA program, participants learn to work and think like a generalist. They learn to take a holistic view of a business and are well-prepared to work across industries and functions after graduation in senior leadership roles.
In a sustainable leadership role, you also need to evaluate your decisions and management style with multiple factors in mind, considering both profit and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities.
Previously a finance manager, Tina decided to pursue an EMBA to switch from financial specialist to management generalist and reach higher level management positions.
At CBS, EMBA students learn about all the core functions of a business—including marketing, finance, accounting—as well as topics like digitalization, innovation, sustainability, and reflexive leadership.
Soon after graduating from the program, Tina landed her current role at NIRAS, a multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy committed to sustainable progress and service delivery, which is dedicated to meeting the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
NIRAS has carried out mobility and public transport projects in Scandinavia, designed world-leading sustainable food and beverage plants in Europe, built wind farms in Asia, and worked to secure health, education, and clean drinking water in emerging markets across the globe.
Tina’s role at the firm has two main dimensions. Firstly, she is part of executive management, who works to develop NIRAS as a company and workplace.
Secondly, she has a specific responsibility within Finance, IT, HR and Communication, guiding the organization to make informed decisions that benefit the collective and support the wider company goals.
For both roles, she says, taking a holistic view of the organization and the wider business environment is key.
2. Diverse perspectives are crucial for sustainable leadership—and an EMBA provides just that
Sustainable leaders need to take into account the diverse perspectives of different stakeholders, and so having a diverse professional network to tap into is especially helpful.
Copenhagen EMBA students study across six cities spanning three continents, in Copenhagen, London, Frankfurt, Chicago, Mumbai, and Shanghai. Plus, more than 80 nationalities are represented among CBS EMBA alumni, and they work across 60 countries.
During her EMBA, this diversity of Copenhagen EMBA class also taught Tina that organizations need different views, perspectives, and dialogue to find the best solutions and ideas.
“It gave an international perspective which I think is important for a sustainable future. One company or country cannot change the future alone.
“Being forward-thinking means that you can accumulate knowledge from a mix of diverse voices,” she continues.
“Responsible leaders should strive for diversity inside and outside their business as it increases the ability to lead well and become adaptable.”
Tina’s EMBA cohort went to London for finance courses, Uganda for entrepreneurship and innovation, Chicago for marketing, and Shanghai for supply chain management.
To this day, Tina still relies on the diverse global network she’s developed for help and advice, from inspiration on generating new ideas to input on recruitment. "Without an EMBA it would have been difficult to establish this reliable network,” she says.
3. Sustainable leadership + Digitalization = Success
It was during her EMBA that Tina was introduced to the ways that sustainability and digitalization can intersect to create a better world.
Programs at CBS are rooted in the Scandinavian leadership model, which is known for its focus on sustainable practices, digital innovation, and its belief that people matter as much as profit. The CBS EMBA also offers four concentrations: Digitalization, Entrepreneurship, Governance & Sustainability, and Finance.
Although these concentrations were introduced after Tina graduated, she was able to study digitalization, innovation, and entrepreneurship, including a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) course that made a lasting impression on her.
Tina explains that by using her learnings to digitalize NIRAS' processes, leveraging business intelligence and analytical dashboards, she’s now able to make precise data-driven decisions that can help when reporting back to stakeholders across different sustainability-focused metrics.
With her EMBA knowledge under her belt, she's increasingly focused on using business as a force for positive change.
“The value companies create is not only financial for shareholders, but value must also be evaluated based on human and emotional impact, sustainable solutions, and financial impact on communities and families,” she says.
“[From the EMBA] I learned that private companies have a huge impact on society and it requires responsibility and investments from private companies to create a better and sustainable future.”
Copenhagen Business School (CBS)
CBS: efficient international network
CBS has always been ranked among the best universities in Europe and this means that it has become a sign of professionalism and success. The academic level is great thanks to the good teachers and the atmosphere is proactive and challenging. Lots of events are planned every week and this helps you to find your own way. CBS is not only a business school, it is a great and efficient international network.
Good academic career
I did my Bachelors at CBS and their academic excellence and career opportunities led me to pursue my Masters in Accounting, Strategy and Control. I was very lucky to go on an exchange in Singapore for one semester it boosted me to get a career in a global firm. I like that it is super modern and has all the facilities for the business student in 2019. Especially, I liked the library and Bitlab where I spent most of my time studying. However, note that it is very demanding and studying here is no joke. Everything is very competitive and you are among the most excellent business students in the country. The interaction with international students helped me to see different perspectives in business and culturally and I was lucky to make friends from any part of the world. CBS is like a brand in Denmark. Every serious business company prioritizes us over any other Danish university and also it is free for European citizens. Overall, I have a very satisfying experience at CBS and I'm looking to continue my academical career even further.
CBS is one of the best!
All I have to say regarding my experience at CBS is that it is AMAZING. Having been tutored by world-class academic staff, I can definitely support that I am receiving the best of quality regarding my studies in Digital Marketing. Staff is very friendly and easy to approach. In addition, the facilities we enjoy are top class and meet any demands. Keep in mind that, EU citizens do not pay any fees. Student life might be non-existent here, but the location of the University in The very center of Copenhagen has a huge variety of choices to offer to students regarding their entertainment. Accommodation might be a problem, but early research of the market can be very useful. In addition, the University promotes diversity. In CBS University you can meet people from the whole world which is quite interesting. I definitely suggest CBS for any student who he's interested in pursuing a career in marketing or business.
The ideal business school
I have been enrolled in this university for 2 semesters. What I took from this experience is that there is nothing better out there for those looking for professional growth while being guided by some of the top-notch professors in Scandinavia. They have a really strong focus in technology and digital transformation and they are up to date to guarantee you land a job in the modern fast-evolving world. They also embrace diversity which means many students come from any part of the world and it takes the entire learning experience to another level. You simply learn from every other student cause everyone has different experiences and background which makes you open your mind and see the world from a different angle. In Denmark, even businesses prioritize people who graduate from CBS as it's commonly perceived as the most prestigious university for business graduates.
A Place of Personal Growth
In CBS you can expect an environment of proactive thinking and growth. The university staff is always open to help and to debate. The teaching methods balance theoretical knowledge and practical skills enabling the student with capacity and confidence to enter the job market successfully. The existence of students from all over the world stimulates discussion and promotion of different cultures, ideas and perspectives. I highly recommend this university for students in business-related areas.
The environment here is really great. Despite the well organized buildings and libraries, there are also places for students to just stay and relax also even study in the corners of each campus. The professors are mostly really nice and try to interact with students a lot. So, to sum up, the environment is really nice for studying here.
Quality education where it emphazises the importance of academic. No finger to put on this aspect of the school. However, sometimes the administration and IT can be lacking a bit, but in general a really good choice for education!
Classes are challenging and conducted in a professional manner. CBS offers a wide range of possibilities to develop outside of the classes! Libraries and other facilities on the campus are very well adjusted to the student needs.
A heavily theory-based curriculum combined with an ever-stimulating environment
I am currently a Master student at CBS, but I have also completed a Bachelor's Degree in this university. I am quite satisfied with my studies and the teaching level. However, when compared to other business schools, it becomes apparent that most courses at CBS strive to find a good balance between theoretical insight and real-life examples. Compared to my exchange university, the projects that I have found myself writing at CBS have a far less practical application and also leave little room for creativity. If the teaching is heavily theoretical, on the bright side, the university arranges a number of events throughout the year to encourage students to apply their knowledge, in the form of career fairs, case competitions, and other events organized by student associations. In my experience, teachers are very easily approachable and happy to answer your questions. A foreign student like me will find a more international environment at Master level, since the number of international (or at least non-Scandinavian) students enrolled in the Bachelor programs is quite low. However, all communication (both oral and written) from teachers and the university offices is always in English. Administrative offices, student guidance services, the career center, and the international office are definitely worth a mention. All of the requests that I have had throughout the years have always been met with kindness, promptness and efficiency.