Marco Trada believes most prominent international companies spend too much time on focusing on profit instead of their impact on society and the environment.
As a co-founder of the Sustainable Development Club at Nice’s EDHEC Business School, he’s out to change that mind-set. There are already signs the MBA community is doing so. Business schools say students want careers that positively impact society, not MBA jobs that just provide fat paychecks.
In this interview, Marco explains why the triple-bottom-line is important, what EDHEC is doing about sustainability, and his business venture for the Hult Prize — the world’s largest social entrepreneurship competition for students — which took him to this year’s final.
Tell us about your business idea for the Hult Prize.
Our project drew inspiration from an MBA business trip to South Africa, which reminded us of the importance of sustainability and innovation. Specifically, during our visit we met with social entrepreneurs in the township of Khayelitsha and we learned about how they are transforming their community with their innovative businesses.
For this reason, we decided to apply our business skills to solve key development challenges and improve lives, specifically focusing our project on waste management. Our social business idea aimed to create hundreds of new jobs for the community, but also to develop a new culture regarding waste recycling and resource efficiency.
What are your goals for the MBA Sustainable Development Club?
We decided to create the club with the ambition of contributing to social businesses and to make a positive impact on communities. In Nice, we connected with local organizations, invited international speakers to discuss trends in the industry, and networked with the EDHEC Master’s Development Club.
Why should MBAs consider social impact, not just profit?
In the past, the majority of the most prominent international companies have spent too much time focusing just on profits, while dedicating little effort to sustainability and social business.
However, this is changing. I can mention one practical example: AkzoNobel, the multinational company in which I am carrying out my MBA internship. The group has been shifting its approach towards a more sustainable business strategy called “Planet Possible” that represents the company’s commitment towards people and the environment, in terms of new sustainable products, resource efficiency and societal development.
I strongly believe that today’s MBAs have to follow this approach, firstly from a social perspective; to proect and improve the world in which we live, but also in order to explore new business opportunities.
Why did you decide to get an MBA?
To get significant international exposure. I got this, thanks to the EDHEC Global MBA program’s international professors, its global business partners and an extremely diverse class of colleagues coming from various professional backgrounds and over 30 different countries.
Moreover, besides the hard skills, I was also looking at developing my soft ones: leadership, communication, and teamworking.
It was not an easy decision. It firstly represents a long and demanding path, starting from the selection process and moving to the intense year made up of classes, exams, teamwork and extra-curricular activities. Secondly, it is also a significant investment in terms of money.
For these reasons I believe that, before taking the decision to consecrate one year of your life to an MBA, you really need to have clear personal and professional motivations, and well-defined post-MBA goals.
What did EDHEC Business School give you that other business schools couldn’t?
In addition to diversity and a global approach, I chose EDHEC because of its international recognition and curriculum. Once on the campus, you can really feel that the institution is evolving, thanks to its new international partnerships and innovative academic offering.
I was also personally interested in the French market, since I speak French. Finally, it is important to mention that EDHEC is also one of the best business schools in the world for finance — a subject that I consider key in every business and one that I wanted to explore further.