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New program prepares leaders for the future of business sustainability

Feb 21, 2023

Oana Branzei

Professor Oana Branzei.

With the growing importance for companies to prioritize social responsibility comes a demand for sustainable leaders who have a long-term vision and focus on creating a better future.

Ivey’s new Graduate Diploma (GDip) in Business and Sustainability in the MSc program aims to meet that demand by offering students the opportunity to gain an integrative understanding of sustainability while deepening their management and technical skills. The graduate diploma is open to students in all three streams of the MSc program – Business Analytics, Digital Management, and International Business – starting with the new cohort of MSc International Business students that began in January. The GDip was developed in collaboration with the Centre for Building Sustainable Value, Ivey’s centre of excellence in sustainability.

The students will complete the 16-month MSc degree while concurrently earning the graduate diploma by taking extra required courses on sustainability, sustainability-themed MSc electives, and doing a service-based milestone activity. The GDip in Business and Sustainability kicked off with a recent skills seminar at Ivey for both MScs and students in Western University’s Master of Environment and Sustainability program.

Building on Ivey’s sustainability leadership

Greg Zaric, a professor of Management Science and Faculty Director of the MSc, said the new graduate diploma was created to meet both student interest and industry demand for business graduates with specialist sustainability knowledge. It builds on Ivey’s existing sustainability programming through the HBA Sustainability Certificate, which has tripled in size in the past decade. Given the success of the Sustainability Certificate, it made sense to extend such programming to MSc students. Zaric said he anticipates there will be strong interest in the GDip in Business and Sustainability since the current Sustainability elective course in the MSc is already popular with students.

Oana Branzei, a professor of Strategy and Sustainability and founding director of the HBA Sustainability Certificate, will lead the new GDip in Business and Sustainability. She said the School is uniquely positioned to provide the program due to its long tradition of preparing leaders to build and lead more sustainable organizations. In addition to having the Centre for Building Sustainable Value, Ivey is a founding member of the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (ARCS) and launched the Network for Business Sustainability, a non-profit advancing sustainable development. All of these initiatives have put Ivey at the core of the grand sustainability challenges faced by society.

“A lot of schools have added sustainability modules, but Ivey’s offering combines decades of leadership on sustainability research and impact – research that has changed the course of corporate practice,” said Branzei. “We know that students need to be ready to hit the ground running on these issues and I’m very pleased that students in the MSc program will have access to the extraordinary depth of research that is being led at Ivey.”

Addressing the sustainability imperative

The new graduate program aligns with the School’s new strategy, Ivey Next, which outlines how Ivey aspires to address three critical issues – the evolution of work; global citizenship, competitiveness and innovation; and sustainability. The program incorporates key business sustainability topics, such as climate change and the circular economy. It also engages students on critical societal issues and imperatives, particularly Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. In doing so, it prepares future business leaders for a world where sustainability drives organizational success because they’ll be equipped to integrate sustainability across key management disciplines.

“This is an optional feature of the MSc program that our students are encouraged to pursue, but it’s not really optional for the leaders of tomorrow,” said Branzei. “Organizations today are very visibly committing to sustainability and the reality is the leaders of tomorrow will be leading in a world where sustainability is no longer optional.”