SIM Course: „Exploring Sustainability as Strategic Opportunity“ (2018)
While recent political developments, such as USA’s exit from the Paris Climate Agreement, constitute setbacks for the global sustainability agenda, sustainability has become an increasingly important strategic issue for companies. How to seize the business opportunities that sustainability offers so that companies can gain a competitive advantage is the core purpose of the SIM course “Exploring Sustainability as Strategic Opportunity”. Led by Barbara Kux, a renowned corporate executive, external board director, and lecturer at University of St. Gallen, and by Florian Überbacher, a senior researcher at University of Zurich and lecturer in St. Gallen, this course enables SIM students to engage in close collaboration with leading global companies. The aim is to develop solutions for the companies’ real-world sustainability issues by means of hands-on project work. Hence, the course covers the business opportunities and challenges that are connected to sustainability issues not only in theoretical but also in very practical ways.
Barbara Kux and Florian Überbacher
Group photograph with SIM students, lecturers, and company representatives from BMW, Firmenich, Henkel, Roche, and UBS.
In spring 2018, this specific SIM course was offered for the fifth time. Five world class companies joined the course as partners: BMW, Firmenich, Henkel, Roche, and UBS. Like in previous years, the seminar was very successful: Students’ evaluations of the course were very high. They genuinely enjoyed the challenge of working closely and intensively on real business cases with these leading companies, and they were very inspired and motivated by the opportunity to tackle sustainability challenges hands-on. The participating companies were also very satisfied with the course experience. They enjoyed the interactions with the ambitious, talented, and internationally diverse SIM students, and they were impressed with the solutions that they developed for their specific strategic issues. Overall, the five companies offered the following five projects for the SIM student teams to work on:
BMW is a leading driving force of mobility. The company proposed the following project to the SIM students:
1) MILLENIALS AND THE FUTURE OF MOBILITY: What are millennials’ expectations concerning the mobility of the future and which sustainability topics can/should be solved by the automotive industry?
FIRMENICH is the largest privately owned company in the fragrance and flavor business. The SIM students developed solutions for the following project:
2) SUSTAINABILITY REPORTING: How can sustainability reporting be reinvented? (Due to the confidentiality of the results, no information about this project can be published)
HENKEL is a global leader in laundry and home care, beauty care and adhesive technologies. The SIM students developed solutions for the following project:
3) SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING: How can Henkel increase consumer perception of its commitment to sustainable packaging? (Link to original solution proposed by SIM team)
ROCHE, a Swiss multinational health-care company, proposed the following project to the SIM students:
4) PATENTING: How can the relevance of effective patent protection be communicated to different stakeholders? (Due to the confidentiality of the results, no information about this project can be published)
UBS is a Swiss global financial services company. The SIM students developed solutions for the following project question posed by UBS:
5) LONG TERM VALUE: Analyze how companies use the concept ‘long term value’ and recommend potential future actions for UBS. (Link to original solution proposed by SIM team)
We look very much forward to the next ‘edition’ of our course in spring 2019. This time again globally leading companies will join us in class. In this way, our students will once more be able to work on key and real-world strategic issues and to learn about sustainability not only in theoretical but in very engaged and practical ways.