EDHEC Sustainable Impact Challenge – ESG Education in Action
Action learning at its best: the Sustainable Impact Challenge 2024 offered MBAs the opportunity to apply first-term learnings to real-life sustainability projects.
The EDHEC Global MBA's Sustainable Impact Challenge is a cornerstone of ESG education, integrating real-world challenges and fostering a deeper understanding of sustainability in future leaders.
Over five months, MBA students collaborate with various companies, tackling real-life sustainability issues. This collaboration is a key component of EDHEC's ESG-focused MBA curriculum, emphasising the school's dedication to cultivating leaders able and willing to positively influence the world. The programme's excellence in sustainability and ESG education has been consistently acknowledged in recent Financial Times and other rankings.
The Challenge: A Hands-On Approach to ESG Education
Throughout the project, students worked in teams on unique challenges, culminating in the development of CSR and sustainability recommendations for participating companies. This process involved extensive research and a deep understanding of each company's industry and offerings.
Key learning outcomes of the Sustainable Impact Challenge include:
- Gaining insights into diverse business strategies for sustainability.
- Identifying critical social and environmental challenges and needs in the business world.
- Enhancing critical thinking and problem-solving skills through teamwork, essential for creating sustainable solutions.
A win-win-win cooperation
Companies participate in the challenge to get fresh insights and potential solutions to business challenges related to CSR, as well as meeting talent in action, beyond a CV or an interview, over an extended period of time.
Corporate partners in the 2024 edition of the Sustainable Impact Challenge included start-ups as well as Fortune 500 companies:
Pascale Xelot, Director Global Industry Solution Center at IBM, explained that “Sustainability is important for IBM and it's important for the MBA, so it's a good fit to do something together. The expectation of this cooperation this year is to get fresh insights and perspectives into the level of sustainability of some of our clients.”
Over the five months, participants had the opportunity to deep dive into their respective subjects and “it was great to witness how they matured over that period and built something really interesting” said Vincent Simard, Local EMS Lead at SAP Labs. “They did excellent research, and I was really impressed with the precision of their projections, locally and globally. They had to come up with solutions that didn’t exist before, so they had to be creative and go beyond what they already knew. We are really proud of them!” he added.
“It really is a win-win-win operation. For our students, the companies, and the planet. Helping businesses make the case for sustainability initiatives is one of the great challenges of our time. By putting ESG education at the heart of our MBA programme, we are equipping future business leaders with the skills and the courage to make strategic decisions for a more sustainable future.” said GMBA programme director Sandra Richez.
Beyond skills and knowledge, the MBAs also bring their passion and enthusiasm for the subjects to the table: “The sustainability challenge and the ESG focus of the programme were actually the main reasons why I chose EDHEC’s Global MBA.” said Zach Cho, Global MBA cohort 2024.
The Final Presentation: Showcasing ESG Education in Action
On the final day, students presented their sustainability strategies and research findings in high-stakes, seven-minute pitches to peers, company representatives, and an expert jury composed of Prof. Philippe Véry, Professor of Strategy, Cécile Legrand, ESG Manager at EDHEC, Eléonore Gueit, Sustainable Engineering Advocate at Amadeus and Erika Nemeth, Sustainability Programme Leader at Schneider Electric. Several awards recognised the winning teams for Innovation, Research and Impact of their findings.
Audience engagement and remote participation of company representatives who couldn’t travel were facilitated by PiLab, EDHEC's hub for pedagogical innovation, using advanced visio-conferencing and voting technology to choose the audience award.
The Broader Context and Impact of the Sustainable Impact Challenge
The Global Sustainable Development Report (GDSR) 2019 highlights the urgent need for transformative actions at all societal levels for sustainability. The EDHEC Global MBA Sustainable Impact Challenge exemplifies the practical application of these principles, demonstrating that developing sustainable business practices is achievable but requires dedication and investment. This challenge not only enhances students' understanding of ESG issues but also prepares them to be change-makers in a world increasingly focused on sustainable practices. “EDHEC’s aim is to make an impact and the Global MBA is for sure designed to do just that.” concluded Zach, whose team won the innovation award for the inventive solutions proposed in their presentation.