ESG Education - How my EDHEC MBA became a catalyst for a Sustainability Startup - #MyMBAStory

Corporate Social Responsibility starts in the classroom

Written on 19 July 2022.

In a time when ESG, sustainability, and climate change are becoming increasingly important for companies, we sat down with Chilean-born technology entrepreneur, Plinio Herrera Schuwirth, to find out how EDHEC’s ESG-focussed MBA helped him launch his business. 

After graduating with a Global MBA from EDHEC Business School in 2020, Plinio founded startup EO2 together with fellow EDHEC alumni Marco Bassan Guerrieri. This Greentech startup provides an alternative Digital Asset that helps individuals diversify their investments and businesses to achieve their sustainability goals. Ultimately, it aims to promote the ethical development of Carbon Markets. 

Corporate Social Responsibility starts in the classroom 

Plinio Sustainability StartupPlinio appreciated that, along with diversity, sustainability is one of EDHEC Business School’s core values. The school works towards promoting this value among future entrepreneurs and business leaders.  

“EDHEC believes that sustainability shouldn't be just a label to stick on for businesses,” Plinio told us. “Instead, it should be merged organically with the financial logic and shape companies over decades. This pragmatic and forward-looking approach inspired the foundation of EO2.” He appreciated how EDHEC promotes the concept of the “triple bottom line”, which says that rather than focusing on the single bottom line of financial performance, companies also need to measure their social and environmental impact. Plinio was impressed by how this idea motivates entrepreneurs and startups to drive change in the sustainability and climate field. 

ESG education – more than academic learning 

EDHEC’s Global MBA has a strong focus on ESG (environmental, social, and governance) education and sustainability and is ranked in the top three in the world for ESG education in the latest Financial Times ranking. ESG education runs through the whole MBA programme. In addition to being woven into the academic curriculum, the EDHEC Global MBA includes a 3-month sustainability challenge and a week-long sustainability expedition to see how businesses and public administration integrate the UN sustainable development goals to make an impact for future generations.   

Networking opportunities 

Plinio was impressed by the networking opportunities EDHEC provided through group projects, practical work, company presentations and events as well as its 53.000 member strong alumni network. This ultimately helped him launch his business. 

“When you pursue an undergraduate or a master's degree, you share a common background in knowledge or job experience with your fellow students,” He told us. “When studying for an MBA, this is the opposite. I got to know people from the most diverse backgrounds and cultures.” 

One of Plinio’s classmates later became his co-founder, and other EDHEC alumni later acted as advisors, perfectly complementing Plinio’s and Marco’s skills and experience.  

Expert help to kickstart your sustainable business 

For budding entrepreneurs, the EDHEC Global MBA offers the unique possibility to get expert help to launch your business. While Plinio did not choose the entrepreneurship track, he and his future business partner took the opportunity to work on a business plan for their MBA project. Thus, the co-founders were able to develop their business plan together under the supervision of EDHEC Business School’s finance professor Gianfranco Gianfrate.who provided invaluable input to get them on the right way from the start.  

The core skills you learn during an MBA 

An MBA is extremely useful for entrepreneurs, as it allows them to develop a wide range of hard and soft skills while growing their leadership competencies, said Plinio about EDHEC's ESG-focused MBA programme. “When it comes to core skills, you get to learn about all parts of a business, from accounting to marketing and everything in between. This comprehensive approach means students learn about all aspects of running a business, and so are less likely to be taken by surprise by the challenges of the business world.” 

For Plinio, the most helpful courses he took as part of his EDHEC MBA were Corporate Finance, Data Analysis, and Strategy. He shared how he and his EO2 co-founder Marco had already used the skills and knowledge they learned through these courses a number of times since starting their company. 

Plinio also emphasised the importance of the soft skills students develop while completing an MBA. “One of the best courses we had at EDHEC was Leadership Coaching. Coaching is beneficial for understanding people's motivations, helping to motivate teams and improve their performance. I don’t know of any other business school where you can learn that skill.” 

Finally, Plinio believes that, for an entrepreneur, confidence is the most valuable life skill that an MBA adds to your toolbox. “After reviewing and discussing countless case studies, you start getting a sense of the challenges you might face. Even if something new may arise, you have already become a problem solver,” he explained. 

Write Your Own MBA Story 

Through studying an MBA with a strong focus on ESG at EHDEC, Plinio built the comprehensive set of skills and knowledge needed to develop and run his sustainability startup, along with making vital connections that helped him to launch the venture. 

Whether sustainability is your passion or you’re driven by something else, EDHEC’s MBA will help you to become a successful entrepreneur or business leader. Learn more about the programme here

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