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Enhanced MBA Focus On Sustainability Develops Responsible Leaders

Copenhagen Business School says that future leaders must embrace sustainability – an increasingly popular topic among MBAs.

Mon May 11 2015

Copenhagen Business School (CBS) MBA students are on a quest for leadership.

Two pillars of The Copenhagen MBA – sustainability and leadership – have been merged and developed further to make up the central Responsible Management theme. The new course will focus on topics such as corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

Denmark, the school’s base, is a leader in business responsibility and MBA students are able to soak up insight in the field. Leaders in this area will interact with the MBA, acting as guest lecturers and mentors to students.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis policy makers have focused on reviving economic growth, rather than implementing sustainability measures.

But companies are realizing the reputational and efficiency benefits of initiatives like resource conservation or promoting a low-carbon economy.

Poul Hedegaard, MBA director at CBS, says in this interview with BusinessBecause that future leaders must embrace sustainability.

Why is responsible management an important theme to Copenhagen Business School?

We have observed over the years that for the current generation of MBA students, the focus is not first and foremost on making money for themselves, but rather on developing a strategy which sets companies and themselves up for long-term success. This is in line with our own vision for what the global leaders of tomorrow look like, and resonates well with what the world looks like in the wake of the financial crisis.

Furthermore, Denmark and Copenhagen Business School have a great reputation when it comes to corporate sustainability and are global forerunners with regards to implementing CSR practices. Naturally, we would like our MBA students to soak up as much insight and knowledge as possible within this field, so they can bring this perspective to future roles and become the responsible leaders we need in the future.

What affect does this focus have on the MBA curriculum?

For the next intake, the two program pillars of The Copenhagen MBA – sustainability and leadership – have been merged and developed even further to make up the central Responsible Management theme.

From the very start of the program, students will further their knowledge within this important field through a rigorous, 50-hour course divided into four broad topics – Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, The New Global Rules of the Game, Business Imperative, and Earning Trust with Stakeholders.

In addition, CSR and sustainability is incorporated into most of the core courses, equipping students with a holistic skill-set and an ability to implement CSR across different business units. 

Many companies run specific leadership development programs. Is it now more important for MBAs to be taught leadership skills to be prepared for the jobs market?

It is very important, but leadership is not a one-size-fits-all approach; it is important to identify your own personal leadership style.

Students in The Copenhagen MBA will discover this by exploring their unique strengths and weaknesses in our Leadership Discovery Process. Through lectures and seminars, peer-to-peer coaching sessions and mentoring by executives, group discussions, immersive learning experiences and a series of individual reflection papers, they will create a distinctive leadership style, suited to their own personalities.

But is there a misconception about what a "leadership" is?

Perhaps. Good leadership can mean many different things. What we aim to teach our MBA students is the ability to deal with complexity and diversity, yet be able to set common direction and goals.

We send our students on a quest for leadership and the journey starts with the discovery of each individual student’s “raw material” for leadership.

We then extract these findings and put them in a team/organizational perspective. At the end of the day, leadership is all about knowing yourself and being able to translate that knowledge into others. And this is really the cornerstone of our approach to leadership.

Policy makers have focused on reviving economic growth, rather than implementing measures that promote resource conservation or a low-carbon economy, for example. What role can business schools play in championing sustainability?

We can champion the importance of this skill-set in future leaders, and we can equip future leaders with the necessary hard business skills. Responsible management is not just a leadership style; it also demands the practical know-how [needed] to predict how financial planning and reporting are impacted, or how to implement and communicate a CSR plan to stakeholders.

What opportunities are there for MBA students to be involved in sustainability?

In addition to having direct access to the latest research and developments in this field, they will meet practitioners within CSR and sustainability, who interact with the [MBA] program and are guest lecturers and mentors. This is a great opportunity to find out how CSR is really implemented across corporations, [and to] understand the challenges and how to overcome them.

Students will also have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of corporate sustainability and how it relates to their daily life and the workplace by joining the Net Impact global network and other communities on campus.

What economic benefits are there for sustainability?

This is a question with no quick answers, yet are there numerous benefits. The most obvious ones are often related to efficiency gains, such as reduced energy costs, and the re-use of materials, energy and waste.

Secondly, there are often gains in accessing new markets, as customers are increasingly attracted to sustainability attributes. There might be reputational gains, which can increase customer-employee-investor loyalty.

Working in a sustainable way can also easily be a gateway to new knowledge, which can improve sourcing, marketing, product, and service development.

But the real joy must lie in knowing that you are leading your organization on the right path – to embrace sustainability is the right way forward.

Student Reviews

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.

José Pedro



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

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!




Best Time!

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.