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Executive School of Management, Technology and Law

Sustainable Business

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The world is at a turning point. “Earth Overshoot Day” marks the day all resources which can be regenerated globally throughout each year are exhausted. In 2016 this day was August 5th. From this time on, humankind is living off the planet´s capital instead of its interest. Endless growth in a world of finite resources is impossible in the long run and we are in dire demand for new solutions in the decades ahead. Business is considered to be part of the problem, yet business leaders often do not know how to embrace and actively manage change towards sustainability.

New challenges require new competencies. New competences arise from assuming new perspectives and envisioning new solutions. New challenges also require new leadership skills. Subject expertise needs to be complemented with the ability to drive change and implement new solutions across organizational boundaries.

Business School Lausanne (BSL) and the Institute for Economy and the Environment at University of St.Gallen (IWÖ-HSG) launched a first-of-a-kind comprehensive training program for future leaders in business sustainability in 2011. Renowned faculty from the University of St. Gallen, along with recognized experts in interdisciplinary learning and training from BSL as well as thought-leaders from academia, government, nongovernmental organizations and business provide a unique setting for participants to acquire the new skills and competences required to lead the sustainability agenda in business and beyond.

The Diploma in Sustainable Business is a joint program of Business School Lausanne and the Institute for Economy and the Environment of University of St. Gallen (IWÖ-HSG), and is endorsed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

This is a one-year, part-time executive program which includes not only subject knowledge in the field of sustainable business, but also leading change and project management experience as part of the course.

A 10-month team consulting project in the area of business sustainability is an integral part of the Diploma in Sustainable Business program. It is a unique opportunity for participants to engage in real-life projects with companies and work as advisors on strategic sustainability problems. Consulting projects include a wide range of relevant issues in product development, purchasing, supply chain, market analysis, labelling, employer branding, and communications. They are carried out by small, international and multifunctional teams of students (3-5 course participants) who work closely with the sponsoring company and are guided by the BSL-University of St. Gallen experienced faculty throughout the complete project cycle. The projects allow participants to increase their work experience prior to graduation, expand their professional network, and enhance their long-term career possibilities.

Participants who have successfully completed the program are awarded a Diploma in Sustainable Business by BSL and the University of St. Gallen.

*Program Vision *

To understand the challenges we as a global community face in the coming decades, to evaluate how business can contribute to resolve them, and how business leaders can shape their strategy and operations sustainably and responsibly.

*Program Main Objective *

To inspire and train change agents with a broad understanding in global sustainability and provide them with practical skills to develop and implement solutions for sustainability issues in organizations.


  • Help you identify and understand the global challenges in economic, environment and social spheres in order to determine the changes that are necessary in business
  • Develop leadership skills through personal development and reflective thinking
  • Provide an opportunity to apply what you learn in a 10-month company consulting project with fellow course participants

Course Structure

3 Learning Perspectives

  • Rather than looking at sustainability from the business perspective alone, the program approaches sustainability from three different perspectives:
  • Global challenges – understanding the sustainability challenges we, as a global community are facing today and in the coming decades
  • Strategic implications – evaluating how business can contribute to resolve them through innovative strategies
  • Business impact – translating sustainability strategies across business functions

3 Learning dimensions

  • Subject competence – Exposure to the best current knowledge in the global and business sustainability fields provides the foundation for understanding and managing the sustainability challenges.
  • Leading change skills – Implementation and change management skills are critical to bring sustainability to business. To ensure this, the “Leading Change” dimension forms an integral part of the program.
  • Project experience – Sustainability projects are conducted in a collaborative work space and form the backbone of the program. These projects are conducted in collaboration with companies, communities or NGOs. Learning across the program is applied to these projects step-by-step. They qualify participants as professionals in sustainable business.

Module Overview

  • The Big Picture of Sustainability Challenges
  • Leading Change I and Project Experience I: Introduction and framing
  • Best Practices in Sustainability Strategies
  • Sustainability Tools and Frameworks
  • Leading Change II and Project Review I: Developing & deepening
  • Responsible Leadership and Global Stakeholder Challenges
  • The Business Case for Sustainability
  • Making Supply Chains Sustainable
  • Measuring Sustainability Performance
  • Leading Change III and Project Review II: Understanding & applying
  • Sustainability Marketing and Communications
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Leading Change IV and Final Project Presentations: Integration and next steps

Who should attend

The Diploma in Sustainable Business is suitable for experienced professionals with a university degree (or equivalent) and at least 5 years of relevant work experience. Our participants have an affinity for personal development and self-reflection, and are eager to become change agents for a better world.

This program is designed for you if you want to:

  • develop your skills to work in the sustainability field as a specialist in business, public office or nongovernmental organizations
  • work in an existing or new business that embraces sustainability through innovative products or services; or independently as a consultant or entrepreneur
  • integrate sustainability into your existing area of responsibility or into main line functions such as product or project development, sourcing, operations, marketing or communications
  • become an expert in the field, as a sustainability officer, sustainability analyst, sustainability consultant, in sustainability integrated business development or project management


  • gaining exposure to organizations, thought leaders and projects in sustainability
  • connecting with other professionals in the developing sustainability field
  • re-orienting your career and prepare yourself for future, emerging jobs
  • making a relevant contribution through your professional engagement


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Function Ordentlicher Professor im Ruhestand für Betriebswirtschaftslehre mit besonderer Berücksichtigung des Nachhaltigkeitsmanagements Institute/School University of St.Gallen, IWOE - Institute for Economy and the Environment Main Focuses Nachhaltigkeitsmanagement; Nachhaltigkeit und Innov...
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