In April 2016, eight LUMS students attended the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) annual Liaison Delegate meeting ‘From ambition to implementation’.
A Liaison Delegate (LD) is the main point of contact between a member company and the WBCSD. The LDs hold executive and senior management positions and 450 attended the event. Represented at this conference were companies such as Santander, Unilever, BT Siemens, Toyota, Boston Consulting Group, Ernest Young, British Telecom and KPMG.
The eight students, drawn from a variety of courses, worked as session hosts and note-takers, allowing them to hear first-hand the views of experts from industry, and thereby witness ideas put into action. The lucky group were Lee Brennan, Yury Dmitryuk, Rachele Lanza, Miriam Luft, Thea Nygaard, Dafni Papaioannou, Isabella Trapani and Ferdinand Weiler.
Miriam Luft (European BBA Management) explained that working as a note-taker allowed her to “observe how the WBCSD working groups presented projects and how to implement ideas into actions”.
Rachele Lanza (BA Marketing Management) said: “As students and professionals in-the-making, I think this event gave us the chance to discover more about the people behind the corporations, providing us stimuli to reflect on the kind of role and contribution we want to make as future working people. At least for me, the meeting was extremely insightful and somehow empowering, as it highlighted the impact that individual agency and motivation can make, even in the largest of businesses, and the power it still can have to drive change.”
During the breaks the students had the opportunity to meet some of the LDs and WBCSD staff members, including their CEO Peter Bakker. Isabella Trapani (European BBA Management) said: “I did not appreciate just how many opportunities to combine business and sustainability there are and I feel inspired by this experience as it has definitely made my career goals clearer.” Mr Bakker took time to listen to the students' experiences and future aspirations.
Thea Nygaard (BA Management and Organisation HRM) was surprised “that everyone is human just as I am, and the fact businesses have stepped up their game, taking the lead, is something I find very admirable and motivating for my future career. To share this experience with other students and staff with a similar interest for sustainability has made it even better.”
The students witnessed “significant decisions being made, the kind of decisions that could affect the operations and policies of major international companies and, potentially, the economies of whole countries,” said Yury Dmitryuk (BSc Business Economics).
LUMS undergraduates were invited to take part in a video competition that required them to research who the WBCSD is, how the WBCSD came into being, whether business could be a force for good and convince the assessment panel that they were ideal candidates for the team. Over 400 students were registered for the competition, where Rory Daly, Jo Hobbs and Dr Alison Stowell had the enjoyable but challenging task of assessing the entries.
The trip was funded through the University and Santander. The students met with Etienne Butruille, Deputy Global Head of Sustainability at Santander Group, to express their gratitude for the company’s financial support.
They all wrote blogs about their experiences.