Sustainability Training for Business Leaders

Leonard N. Stern School of Business

What are the topics?

Leonard N. Stern School of Business


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Who should attend

Although there are no formal education or background requirements, this course is designed for executives who meet the criteria below. While we strongly encourage global participation, please note that all courses are taught in English. Proficiency in written and spoken English is required.

  • Years of Experience – Designed for professionals with 5+ years of work experience
  • Job Functions – Ideal for executives in significant leadership roles who are interested in learning more about business sustainability efforts
  • Prerequisites – There are no formal prerequisites for this course. The course is intended for individuals with limited exposure to corporate approaches to sustainability.

About the course

The ability to deliver products and services sustainability and meet the needs of today’s global population without sacrificing the needs of future generations presents one of the biggest business opportunities since the Industrial Revolution. The Business and Sustainable Development Commission suggests that the economic opportunities presented by achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) is valued at more than $12 trillion.1 As companies around the world operate in a rapidly changing global ecosystem and are held to increasingly demanding environmental and social standards, the executives that lead these companies need to understand how these environmental and social factors affect their business.

This course is designed to assist executives in developing the knowledge, skills and perspective they need to understand and address these environmental and social challenges, and build companies that meet the needs of society while delivering economic returns to shareholders and stakeholders. Through a combination of lecture, discussion and group exercises, participants will better understand how to reduce risk, create competitive advantage, and develop innovative services, products and processes in a sustainable way that builds value for society and protects the planet. Participants will also gain exposure to and experience in translating corporate performance on sustainability into financial performance. They will leave this course with a 3-month roadmap outlining concrete steps for implementing sustainable practices at their organization.

Program Takeaways

  • Leadership Skills – Develop the skills required to lead businesses in a rapidly evolving environmental, social and political ecosystem, including: system and design thinking, developing and executing strategy, managing radical transparency, balancing ESG issues and priorities, managing productivity in an era of resource constraints, and more
  • Innovations & Efficiencies – Develop the skills to identify and accelerate innovation in the organization by embedding the evaluation of sustainability impacts and outcomes in your products, services, and processes
  • Sustainability Roadmap – Understand the evolution of corporate response to environmental and social issues impacting business, from compliance to engagement to innovation, and outline a sustainability plan for their organization.


Day 1

Session 1: Key Issues in Sustainable Business

  • What is sustainable business
  • Key economic, environmental, social and governance issues
  • Large group discussion: Reflections on the readings

Session 2: Emerging Strategies and Trends in Sustainable Business

  • Sustainable business: profitability and social impact performance
  • The sustainable consumer and consumer demand for sustainability
  • Current trends for embedding sustainability in corporate strategy
  • Large group discussion: What are the core components of my company’s sustainability strategy? How is the company deriving value from its sustainability program?

Day 2

Session 3: Embedding Sustainability in Corporate Strategy

  • Material ESG issues for my industry and organization
  • Identifying my organization’s stakeholders and designing my engagement strategy
  • Developing and evolving the strategy
  • Small group working session: What are the most financially material ESG issues for my industry and company? Who are my company’s key stakeholders, and what is their potential impact / value to the company?

Session 4: The View of the Investor

  • What are investors looking for in your company
  • Defining materiality for the sustainable investor
  • The current state of sustainable investing
  • The evidence for delivering alpha from sustainability
  • Key challenges ahead for sustainable investing
  • New financing mechanisms for scaling up corporate investment in sustainability
  • Large group discussion: How and in what can my company invest to scale-up its sustainability efforts?

Day 3

Session 5: Measuring Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Performance

  • Recommended measures for quantifying ESG performance
  • What most companies quantify
  • Delivering impact by addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Small group working session: What are the KPIs I would expect my company to use to measure its performance on the most financially material ESG issues?

Session 6: Case Studies - Companies Setting the Standard

  • The specific case studies used in this session will be tailored to the audience, but may include: Nike, Nespresso, Avery Dennison, Citigroup, Inc., West Elm, Kashi, Parnassus, Domtar
  • Small group working session: What are the commonalities across these corporate approaches to sustainability? If these are ‘best in class’ examples, how does my company’s approach resemble / differ from these cases?

Day 4

Session 7: Monetizing the Value of Sustainability

  • New measures for quantifying operational ESG performance
  • Turning non-financial performance into financial value
  • Quantifying the impact of ESG performance on the corporate bottom line
  • Monetizing the benefits delivered outside the company
  • Small group working session: How would I monetize my company’s ESG performance

Session 8: Moving Forward: Embedding Sustainability in Your Company

  • What will I do tomorrow to better embed sustainability in my company?
  • Developing a 3-month roadmap for bringing your sustainability ideas to your company
  • Working session: What is my personal action plan
  • Small group discussion: What are my next steps for engaging in my company’s sustainability program


Tensie Whelan

Tensie Whelan joined New York University Stern School of Business in November 2015 as Clinical Professor of Business and Society. She will lead the School’s efforts around issues of business and sustainability, driving research and coursework on natural resource-based challenges including climate...

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Sustainability Training for Business Leaders at Leonard N. Stern School of Business

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Coursalytics is an independent platform to find, compare, and book executive courses. Coursalytics is not endorsed by, sponsored by, or otherwise affiliated with any business school or university.

Full disclaimer.

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