Impact innovation is the use of emerging technology and cutting-edge solutions to find social and environmental benefits, while also improving business strategy.
These days you'll find a multitude of careers available in impact innovation. You could become an ESG program leader, strategy consultant, corporate engagement officer, innovation specialist, or ESG analyst.
But how can you launch a career in impact innovation? BusinessBecause spoke with faculty from the MSc in Global and Sustainable Business at EDHEC Business School to find out how a specialized master’s equips you with the skills to succeed.
1. Gain fundamental business knowledge and essential skills
A career in sustainable innovation requires you to have knowledge of fundamental business practices, alongside modern technologies and strategies. You’ll also need to apply this knowledge using strong analytical skills and a critical thinking style.
To prepare students with this mixture of knowledge, the MSc in Global & Sustainable Business at EDHEC requires students to take 3 foundational courses at the beginning of the program, in subjects like corporate finance, data science, financial analysis, marketing management or strategic management.
While 86% of students enrolled in the program come from backgrounds in business management, the foundational courses allow students to fill any gaps in areas where they lack experience. This ensures that they can take on the rest of the course with a solid understanding of core principles.
Once on campus, students take on core modules in business ethics, sustainability challenges, global economics, research methodology, supply chain management, sustainable leadership, and international finance.
This means that after enrolling in the program and completing the core period, you should have a strong, holistic business acumen.
“If you want to innovate in business, then you need to have a basic understanding of the problems and technological opportunities so that you can develop business solutions,” says Bastiaan van der Linden, program director of the MSc in Global & Sustainable Business.
Leonardo Levisse was able to use the knowledge he gained on the program to land a role as a sustainability strategy analyst at Accenture after graduation.
"The MSc in Global & Sustainable Business prepared me for this role by giving me an in-depth understanding of sustainable business, as we attended courses that explained how to implement sustainability across the different steps of the value chain," he explains.
2. Benefit from a variety of electives
Aside from learning core management skills, to launch a career in impact innovation you’ll need to obtain industry specific knowledge and skills that will help you make an impact in your chosen field.
“To make a career in impact innovation possible, you need the skill and character to operate in a multifaceted problem context,” Bastiaan explains.
At EDHEC, you can choose from a list of elective courses to specialize your subject area. This is known as a personalization period, allowing you to choose a certificate to expand your expertise and learn to analyze different business environments.
Depending on your interests, you could choose courses in blockchain, strategic cost management, global justice and human rights, or brand management and sustainable technology.
Choosing an elective program gives you the specialized expertise to access a range of career opportunities and build a career in impact innovation.
"There are courses on supply chain management from a sustainability perspective, there are courses on marketing and how to highlight sustainability in an authentic way. These are the things that students need to know from a theoretical perspective," says Bastiaan.
If your passion is in logistics, for example, you could launch a high-impact career working to introduce sustainable solutions in supply chain management. Likewise if you have specialist accounting expertise, you could become a sustainability auditor.
3. Gain Industry Experience
Real-life, hands-on work experience is a vital way to prepare yourself with the knowledge and skillset required for success in impact innovation.
Business school internships offer the opportunity to expand your network, gain practical industry-specific insights, and further develop your knowledge to help you decide which industry you'd like to launch your career in and start making an impact.
Practical experience will show you how you can apply the knowledge you've gained in-class to find real-life innovative solutions. Securing an impact-led internship—working as a sustainability strategy consultant, for example—could help boost your career in impact innovation further.
For many students this increases their employability after graduation. Not only could this help you progress towards an impact innovation role, internships also open up international job opportunities: as many as 74% of graduates have found themselves landing full-time roles with an international dimension after completing their course.
Adithya Narayanan joined the Sustainability Consulting Leadership Program (SCLP) at Schneider Electric after graduating from EDHEC and undertaking two internships in a gap year during the program.
"My strategy was to do one internship in the sustainability sector and to do another for a large company (any industry) which could boost my CV. This worked out well for me," he says.
"Think long-term and do at least one internship related to the MSc and the post-graduate career you want to pursue," he adds.
Business school will provide you with a plethora of opportunities to gain knowledge, skills, and connections, giving you the tools to land and succeed in an impact innovation role after graduation.
As we progress towards a more sustainable business landscape, this will only create more career opportunities in future.
"The whole idea of impact innovation in business is becoming more and more dominant," says Bastiaan. "This means there's not a couple of people that are hired by a company to do innovation, now businesses try to bring together as many different participants as possible who can develop solutions together."