When Ivey Professor Tima Bansal began her research in business sustainability, the area was pretty much uncharted territory.
Fast forward nearly three decades, and Bansal’s pioneering work in the field of sustainable development in organizations has earned her numerous awards and distinctions, the latest being an honorary doctorate conferred on her jointly by HEC Montréal and the Université de Montréal. Bansal was recognized on August 26 at a ceremony at Palais des congrès de Montréal.
And although her contributions to the field have not gone unnoticed by others, Bansal said she was surprised and humbled by the honour.
“When the Rector of the Université de Montréal and Director of HEC Montréal asked to meet me by phone, I had no idea why they wanted to meet. I was speechless when they told me,” she said. “I am truly honoured to have been awarded this doctorate.”
Establishing the field of business sustainability
It’s a welcome shift compared to early reception of her work. Bansal recalls being told her work was irrelevant to business and unimportant in business schools, but her passion kept her going.
“I stumbled upon my research area of business sustainability because it posed an interesting puzzle and I was curious. I stayed with it and made it a lifelong passion, because I cared,” she said.
Bansal has since led initiatives to bring a greater focus on societal issues in both business education and the corporate world. She spearheaded sustainability curriculum at Ivey, making it the first business school in Canada and among the first in the world to offer sustainability programming in the core business program. Plans are now underway for Ivey to expand its sustainability programming as part of its new strategic plan, Ivey Next.
Bansal also founded and led the School’s Centre for Building Sustainable Value, and its outreach arm, the Network for Business Sustainability. Most recently, she founded Innovation North (formerly the Innovation Learning Lab), which collaborates with large enterprises to incorporate systems thinking into their business strategy.
All of these initiatives, and her impressive body of research, aim to highlight the role business can play in assuring future prosperity.
We are in a time of some significant existential crises. Business has an opportunity to deflect these crises. I want to be part of the answers, not the problems.”
– Tima Bansal