One thousand four hundred undergraduates were offered an opportunity to compete for a place on the globally unique “OWT232: Management and Sustainability, WBCSD Bootcamp” module. The ten Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) finalists travelled to Singapore to attend the international CEO-led organisation’s strategic “Lead, Transform and Succeed” council meeting.
The candidates were selected under a highly-competitive application process. It was their knowledge about the WBCSD and proactive engagement with sustainability initiatives within the University which successfully set them apart from other applicants. Before the trip, the team participated in a week-long Bootcamp. They studied and examined academic theories surrounding contemporary environmental and ethical issues within management. But what made the module so extraordinary, is the opportunity it gave the students to engage with the theory outside the seminar room. By liaising with over 500 C-suite executives, the students also developed employability skills vital to their career development, communication, events management and professionalism.
The course’s creator, convenor and Associate Director for Corporate Relations for the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business, Dr Alison Stowell, said: “We adopt an experiential, creative and critically reflective approach where we bring together theory, practice and professional skill development. The two elements of the module situate the challenges leaders face trying to create a pathway towards a sustainable world. The field trip element enables our students to work and be part of a large event that brings together leaders from all over the world. Hearing the discussions has a transformative effect as our students recognise there is a wider community striving to make a change”.
Alex Macmillen (BSc Accounting and Finance) said: “Seeing these changes being made at the council meeting showed us, being sustainable doesn’t just help our planet. Integrating greener practices within business functions create more competitive, efficient and resilient organisations for the better future.”
“Networking with global business leaders, I had many thought-provoking conversations about sustainability and career paths. I was able to use the content we learnt during our bootcamp lectures to ask insightful questions on the topics covered at the WBCSD conference”, said Ishani Dutta (BSc Hons Marketing with Study Abroad).
The WBCSD is comprised of a multi-industry network of around 200 organisations with combined revenue of USD $1.3 trillion. Their mission is to innovate transformative business solutions for the unprecedented rate of global change. Acknowledging their role as positive agents, the multi-national enterprises utilise their influence to educate today and tomorrow’s corporate leaders. Over 500 delegates, 65 CEOs and 90 Senior Executives attended to advance the universal progression towards a sustainable future.
Urban innovation through economic, environmental and technological developments have transformed Singapore into a modern metropolis since its independence in 1965. Sustainability is built into Singapore’s skyline by governmental legislation protecting the city’s diverse ecosystem and green building policies. It was the perfect location for the students and the WBCSD to engage with the discourse surrounding advancements towards the sustainable development agenda.
Franziska Nguyen (BBA International Business Management) described Singapore to be: “A garden in a city, not a city in a garden. I had never been fully able to grasp this vision of Singapore until we took our first steps outside of Changi Airport”.
The conference was held at the BCA Green Mark Gold accredited, Raffles City Convention Centre. As university ambassadors and event hosts, the students worked alongside the WBCSD events team to ensure the proceedings for the council meeting ran accordingly. During their breaks, they had the opportunity to sit in the discussions, building on the module’s theory and learning further from industry professions. Topics included the reduction of plastic waste, developments in urban mobility and utilisation of technology to aid happiness. The council meeting also celebrated advancements within the WBCSD, such as the Leading Women in Business Awards.
Inspired by the keynote dialogues, Anastazja Klimczyk (BSc Hons Marketing Management) said: "Getting to speak to industry professionals and listening to their views on managing sustainability within their businesses was an insightful and inspiring experience."
Arienne Maravilla (BSc Hons Marketing Management) also noted: “For the whole 3-days, we were captivated by speeches from articulate, cultivated and truly passionate advocates for a greener and better world. We know this fight for sustainability is not simple, but each person who stood on that stage spoke with such clarity and authenticity about taking better care of our world. We knew we couldn’t leave Singapore without joining the fight.”
The trip coordinator from Global Experiences and LUSU Green Lancaster Manager, Joe Bourne, took time to reflect on the experience’s future opportunities on the students’ growth as sustainability advocates and their university. “What I found particularly fascinating was listening to the decision-makers of today discussing things that would affect you all as the upcoming generation. I think the trip does a great deal for Lancaster’s reputation for producing graduates who are future-ready and who are going to be part of delivering the solutions being designed at the council meeting”, said Joe Bourne.
Outside their working hours, the students eagerly submerged themselves within Singapore’s abundance of cultural opportunities. The combination of on-site lectures and excursions within the city helped develop the group’s thoughts on sustainability in the real world and cultural understanding. The Lancaster inhabitants couldn’t surpass the opportunity to explore the truly cosmopolitan paradise of what is known to be ‘the Garden City’.
Rebecca Pipes (BSc Hons Marketing Management) said: “Our engagement in multiple cultural activities supported the sustainability element to our wonderful experience in Singapore. From the exhibition at the Gardens by the Bay to our walk amongst the trees at The Southern Ridges allowed us to get closer to nature. Finally, our free time led me to the National Library of Singapore where I attended an advertising exhibition linking consumption and sustainability to my degree major of Marketing Management.”
Relationships were also built with students from NUS Yale College. The two groups discussed each other’s aspirations surrounding sustainability and the visit ended with a tour of the campus, which holds multiple esteemed architectural awards for environmental design. The accommodation was a perfect reflection of Singapore’s sustainable building and celebration of heritage; blending cultural influences from the American college and Southeast Asian modernism.
Danyaal Sabir (BSc Business Management) said: “Speaking to the NUS Yale students about their university experience and their interest in sustainability was great. I also really enjoyed exploring the new campus - which is simply stunning!”
On the last day, the students attended the WBCSD’s Leadership Programme graduation ceremony, in partnership with Yale University. They were awarded a certificate of participation to thank them for their work. Professor in Residence of the WBCSD and Director of the Pentland Centre, Gail Whiteman, said: “It is great to have the energy and enthusiasm our students bring to the WBCSD events. I am proud of the professionalism and contributions they make.”
The experience was concluded with a powerful speech by Dr Rodney Irwin, Managing Director for the Redefining Value and Education programs. Irwin’s sincerity captured every member of the audience, as they were reminded that together they are the leading voices of a better, more sustainable future.
Michael Gilmore (BSc Business Studies) reflects on the module as a whole and the positive implications on the future: “The experience I had has made me challenge the way I live and how I consume in a way that I am actively looking in ways consume sustainably. The week of lectures before the trip definitely expanded my knowledge of sustainability in a way that makes the topics talked about in the WBCSD relevant and engaging. The lectures whilst in Singapore consolidated the ideas talked about at the WBCSD and sparked a debate between our group. These opinions were openly shared in our blogs too, something which I don’t think an exam or an essay would have given us the freedom to talk about.”
The students who attended were: Arienne Maravilla (BSc Hons Marketing Management), Danyaal Sabir (BSc Business Management), Leonie Friedrich (BBA International Business Management), Kim Widmann (BBA International Business Management), Alex Macmillen (BSc Accounting and Finance), Franziska Nguyen (BBA International Business Management), Michael Gilmore (Business Studies), Ishani Dutta (BSc Hons Marketing with Study Abroad), Rebecca Pipes (BSc Hons Marketing Management) and Anastazja Klimczyk (BSc Hons Marketing Management).
As a further element for the module, the group wrote blogs which reflected the lessons learnt on their sustainability journey. Kim Widmann and Leonie Friedrich (BBA International Business Management) also created a compelling video diary showcasing the team’s experiences.
[Image at top of page (c) WBCSD 2018]