It’s only been a few months since Northwestern faculty and students attended COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, but the need to continually engage in conversation and share ideas in the fight against climate disasters remains more urgent than ever. MBA students, as the business leaders of tomorrow, have an important role to play in addressing climate change at the corporate level, in unison with delivering an environmental agenda. And judging by a national conference recently organized by the Kellogg School of Managementthey have the enthusiasm and the will to do so.
The third ClimateCAP Summitheld February 25-26 at the Kellogg Global Hub, drew more than 250 MBA students from 23 business schools across the United States to Evanston in the name of addressing the connection between sustainability and business, and to assess the challenges facing a planet in peril from a business school perspective.
“Kellogg is about leadership, and it’s a leadership challenge — the challenge of our lives,” said Francesca Cornelli, dean of the Kellogg School of Management in her opening remarks for the summit. “It requires creativity, adaptation, flexibility and a different way of thinking. We know that the Earth’s climate is changing, and without decisive action we will have catastrophic consequences.
Indeed, climate change represents one of the major 21st century drivers of value creation and destruction in the global economy. By 2030, the impacts of global climate change are expected to reach $700 billion per year, with billions of dollars in coastal, urban and agricultural assets at risk, according to the presenters. Climate change also represents a multi-trillion-dollar business opportunity for forward-thinking business leaders, with massive new markets in technology and infrastructure solutions expanding around the world.
Cornelli encouraged the MBA students in attendance to see themselves as uniquely qualified agents of positive change for the planet, and to see and seize these business opportunities. “That’s why it’s amazing that you’re all here,” she said. “I think it is now clear that the business community and business students will play a central role. We need you to successfully complete the challenge because we need your skills.
Kellogg’s Faculty, Teachable Times
Two prominent Kellogg professors co-organized ClimateCAP: Megan Kasner, Assistant Clinical Professor and Director of Social Impact, and Leader of the Consortium of Professors on Global Impact and Sustainable Finance; and Klaus Weber, professor of management and organizations and associate director of the Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs. Together they gave many presentations and offered thoughtful commentary that reflected climate change in personal and business terms.
As he invited the attending MBA candidates to get involved, Weber offered this forward-looking perspective: “How old will you be in 2050 and where will you end up? Many of you will have children, like me, and they will look at you and say, ‘Well, what have you done?’ »
He stopped and added, “My generation probably didn’t do enough. Don’t make this mistake.
But there is hope, Weber pointed out – and he cited the statistics to back it up. The share of green talent in the global workforce increased by 38.5% between 2015 and 2021. Over the same period, employment in renewable energy and environmentally focused jobs in the United States United rose 237%. “It’s clearly not something we like to teach, but something that is an opportunity for you,” he told attendees.
Climate challenges move to the board
With the summit emphasizing these professional and entrepreneurial dynamics, ClimateCAP marked a turning point for Kellogg, MBA students, faculty and alumni. To that end, Kashner described a progression where the business world has seen concerns progress over the years, moving from seemingly marginal matters to critical and strategic tasks.
“The issues and challenges inherent in climate change have moved into the boardroom, into the investment committee, and into corporate and market strategy standards and expectations,” Kashner said. . “Today’s MBA students know this very well, and students who have attended ClimateCAP are integrating this imperative into their future concepts of work and leadership.”
If the question is “how”, then much of this remains uncharted territory. But a repeated theme during ClimateCAP was that Kellogg students are trained at a fundamental level to respond to calls like this: to disrupt, innovate and collaborate. While the solutions to advance global change remain in the making, Kellogg students gain the skills to solve problems and lead businesses.
A more complete version of this story can be found at Inside Kellogg.