Sustainability? Zzzzzzzzz

Some green business ideas that won’t put you to sleep

With the global green movement converting consumers, big businesses are finding that being environmentally friendly can pay off, and business schools are joining the trend.

Exeter University Business School has launched a program called The One Planet MBA, which, according to Professor Richard Lamming, Dean of the Business School: “Will produce graduates who understand that the business model we have been working with up to now is unsustainable and who will then go on to have a profound and positive impact upon the business world.”

And Exeter most certainly is not the only place where business students can draw inspiration.  Business schools are looking closely at ways that firms can go green and create profitable new markets at the same time.

Professor C.B. Bhattacharya, E.ON Chair in Corporate Responsibility at the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) says “The key task of responsible MBA programs is to enable students to see that financial value can only be created through sustainability investments as a consequence of creating social and environmental value; in other words, they need to combine doing good and doing well.”

The European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) recently published the book The Sustainable Business and is giving it away free online. The book says author John Scott, contains a wealth of ideas on how businesses can, “Create real wealth, as opposed to short-term boom and bust cycles, facilitate job creation, and maximize resource efficiency.” 

“Our hope,” he says, “Is that managers will share this information with their employees… because without getting every single employee on board - particularly, without their input - sustainability becomes all the more difficult to achieve.”
Meanwhile, Giselle Weybrecht, author of a newly published book called The Sustainable MBA: The Manager's Guide to Green Business, decided to take matters into her own hands. With an MBA from London Business School under her belt, Giselle takes readers through an easy-to-follow step-by-step process of going green.

Her book is set out like a business school course with tips from accounting, economics, ethics, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, organizational behavior, operations and strategy. We spoke with Giselle about the creation of the book and how she came about it.

How did you come up with the idea for this book?
I wrote the book that I was looking for myself and couldn't find.  I worked in sustainability for many years internationally and realized that in order to see real changes in this area we need the business sector to get more involved. That is why I chose to do an MBA in the first place.

The problem is that employees, managers and MBA graduates do not know enough about how to bring sustainability into their careers and businesses. The first step in bringing about change is to educate the next generation of business leaders and that is what the book aims to do.

How long did it take you to write? How did you manage to juggle your other time commitments?
The project began during my MBA as my second-year project. I took the time to explore how to raise awareness about sustainability with managers. The response was incredibly positive so when I graduated I decided to dedicate myself full-time to make it happen. I sat down for a full year and just immersed myself in it.

You managed to convince over 100 different industry experts to interview with you. How did you do that?
I spent time looking for individuals who were not only experts in this field but were willing to be open and honest about the benefits and challenges of sustainability. I presented the project to them and everyone was so enthusiastic and supportive. I was also really lucky to have some incredible individuals endorse the book once it was finished such as the Director-Generals of the UN Environment Program and the UN Global Compact, the CEO of Unilever and the Dean of London Business School.

If you could give one simple, easy-to-follow tip on how to make a business go green, what would it be?
Take it seriously. Going green isn't just about saving the world or doing the right thing. If taken seriously it can have real benefits across the business. If you are able to apply sustainability principles to different parts of your business, then you will start to see the benefits to the business as a whole.

'The Sustainable MBA: The Manager's Guide to Green Business' is a guide for those interested in what the business sector can and is doing in business and sustainability with lots of tips on how to get involved and how to bring these ideas into your job, whatever job that might be. It is organized like a business school course - allowing easy access to information on sustainability. For more information, visit the website at

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