Sustainability is the thread that weaves together the Copenhagen Business School MBA. Just ask Rachel Browning.
Rachel (pictured below, right) graduated from the Copenhagen MBA this year and is the outgoing vice president for the school’s Net Impact chapter—her year were awarded gold status for their commitment to sustainability.
Net Impact is a global organization that accelerates leadership development for tomorrow’s leading sustainable business figures—Copenhagen Business School is the chapter’s only arm in Denmark.
By angling students to create sustainable impact, Rachel says the chapter empowered her and her MBA peers to do go out and do the things they wanted to around sustainability. They had no excuses not to, she adds.
Rachel says the chapter pushes students to think outside the box, and to bring innovation to the table when it comes to planning activities. Her team invited social justice journalists to talk and debate with the class, for example.
They also created a mock supply chain scenario whereby different teams represented coffee growers, the government, and the workers on a farm. They were then given different challenges to deal with and were pushed to respond with quick-fire, creative solutions.
Food security is an issue that is close to Rachel’s heart. Thus, she also planned for a local business tackling the issue to come in to discuss the challenges they face with the students. Their mission is to promote the use of insects as a sustainable food source.
“I found in Denmark that the process of [implementing] sustainability [in companies] weren’t just projects on the side,” Rachel explains.
“The best examples were where sustainability was a core driver and at the center of the business model. In putting sustainability at the center of the brand and strategy they differentiate themselves.”
An interest in sustainability has always been on Rachel’s mind. But her pursuit of an MBA came from a desire to think more innovatively and creatively when tackling business problems.
This was brought to her attention while she was working in the financial services industry in Cape Town, South Africa, before she pursued the Copenhagen MBA. She noticed one of her colleagues thinking and acting in a more dynamic way to the rest of the team.
She soon took note of their approach to problem solving and critical thinking, realizing what she was seeing were the benefits of an MBA being played out before her eyes.
An MBA had been on Rachel’s radar for a number of years, she explains, and so after seeing first-hand the benefits of business school in the workplace, she began to do her research. She says she was in the market for an MBA that would give her a full immersion into the principles of sustainability and corporate social responsibility.
It’s no surprise, then, that Copenhagen Business School came out on top. Rachel made the move to Denmark and joined a school among the best in the world for sustainability, according to the Corporate Knights’ Better World MBA ranking.
New associate dean for the Copenhagen MBA, Andreas Rasche (pictured below, right), says that the Net Impact chapter is a key indicator of the program’s strength in this area.
“I think it’s very important because that impact is student driven,” he says, adding that the signals coming from student-led initiatives in this area multiply credibility tenfold.
For Andreas, it’s vital sustainability is integrated into the entire curriculum and doesn’t surface solely as a standalone course. “One thing that you need to do within such a context is send credible signals to the students that you really care about these things,” he says.
“For instance, when a finance professor talks to them he or she is not only talking about maximizing profit, but also explaining how this debate could relate to sustainability.”
He mentions that Copenhagen Business School regularly invite in guest speakers from corporations that are sustainability thought leaders. This allows both students and faculty to keep abreast of the latest industry trends, and the latest challenges companies in this area are facing.
And, he has some key messages for his students.
“What I always tell them is that, ideally speaking, corporations would be designed in a way where they fully acknowledge the challenges of sustainability and are strategically designed in a way that minimizes risk and maximizes opportunity.
“But, I wouldn’t say at the end of the day every corporation would end up in such a situation.”
A lot of it comes down to values, too, he says. If you don’t add values to your work, then Andreas questions whether you really are a sustainability leader.
“It’s a lot about personal values and managing for organizational integrity,” he concludes. “It’s not just knowing the technical details that matters.”
Discover more about
Copenhagen Business School (CBS)
Copenhagen - Denmark