Thirteen undergraduates spent a week in India attending the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) annual meeting focused on ‘Implementing Sustainability at Scale’.
The event hosted approximately 450 delegates made up of C-suite executives and senior figures from around 200 multinational organisations. Ten students worked as session hosts and note-takers and three worked with the WBCSD communications team providing support and coverage of the occasion.
“It was such an incredible opportunity”, said Callum Hudson (BSc Business Studies – Industry). “We were able to develop various skills in communication, professionalism and teamwork throughout the conference through the various roles we had to play, such as security scanning people in and out of conference rooms.”
The conference was held in The ITC Grand Chola, the world’s largest 5* LEED-certified green hotel and lasted five days (3rd - 7th October). During this time the students networked with Naoto Nishida (Corporate Executive Vice President of Toshiba), Dipjay Sanchania (Sr Manager CLP Wind Farms India Pvt Ltd), Tony Henshaw (Chief Sustainability Officer of the Aditya Birla Group) and many more.
Julius Kup (BSc European Management) said: “It was great to hear the first-hand experiences business leaders have had and are currently having in the sustainability field.”
Whereas Divesh Lachhwani (BSc Finance and Economics) said: “Our minds were opened to realise the power of acting in a sustainable manner doesn’t just contribute to saving the planet, it saves the businesses themselves as operations become more resilient and efficient.”
The students won their places on the trip by entering one of two competitions run by Dr Alison Stowell that for some were linked to their course module Management and the Natural Environment. In conjunction with the Lancaster Student Union, the trip was organised by Alison, Joe Bourne and Oli Monks.
The trip provided students not only the opportunity to gain a taster of the world of work, by developing their skills in communication, professionalism and teamwork, but also an occasion to explore sustainability. Gareth Gartside (BA Management and Organisation) described this as an “invaluable experience”.
Outside the conference, the students had the chance to submerge themselves into the local culture visiting the Kapaleeshwarar Temple on the evening of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday and the day India announced their commitment to cutting emissions - ratifying the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The temple had a hustle and bustle feel and Jay Mirchandani (BA Management and Entrepreneurship) shared the stories behind the statues of the gods inside the temple. The group learned about the history of Gods such as Shiva, Vishnu and Ganesha.
They also gained insight into the struggles some people face by spending time volunteering with the Chennai Volunteers. This organisation runs multiple projects in the local area and half the group spent the afternoon in a men’s shelter and the other half at a residential hostel for young girls.
In addition to working long hours, and a few sightseeing experiences, the group were exposed to executive decision-making games with Dr Rodney Irwin (Honorary Teaching Fellow at the Pentland Centre). As the trip drew to a close, the students took part in the WBCSD’s Leaders Programme Graduation ceremony and were each awarded a certificate of participation from Peter White (the WBCSD COO), who thanked them for their hard work, saying: “You have been a great help at our meetings and I hope you had fun too. Well done and many thanks.” The remaining few hours allowed them to visit Elliot Beach, seeing the Indian Ocean and a local street market.
The students who attended were Millie Doze, Frederike Kress, Gareth Gartside, Jack Hill, Callum Hudson, Alice Hunt, Julius Kup, Ben Koh, Divesh Lachhwani, Palina Malash, Michael Mander, Katie McAllister, and Jay Mirchandani.
The trip was funded by LUMS, Lancaster University and the WBCSD.