Leadership Change and Climate Change - IEDP
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Leadership Change and Climate Change

Executive Education at Ross has joined forces with the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO) to bring industry experts into its executive education programs focused on climate change.


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Ross will hold its first executive education program on climate change, "Climate Change: What's Your Business Strategy? " on May 17-18, 2010. 

This partnership will enhance the resources made available to course attendees and will bolster the University's outreach to industry. U-M and Ross will leverage the considerable thought leadership and experience among ACCO's members to include in the curriculum. The May course is designed to provide business leaders with a greater understanding of the risks and opportunities associated with climate change and provide critical tools to craft a forward-looking strategy for their organizations. 

"We are thrilled to collaborate with the Ross School to establish our first executive education course as part of our recently launched Climate Change Leadership Series," says Daniel Kreeger, ACCO's co-founder and executive director. "Climate change represents an incredibly broad range of challenges and opportunities for industry — addressing it successfully will require, among other important actions, developing sophisticated education and training for industry executives. This course brings together the best and brightest in academia and industry, who will work together to educate industry executives on business impacts related to climate change."

The focus in recent years has shifted from managing risk and protecting the bottom line, to realizing that climate change is a market shift that every organization must address, says Andrew Hoffman, Holcim (U.S.) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise. He holds a joint appointment at Ross and the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) at U-M. "This course was created to help companies identify ways that climate strategies can add value to their business. If done well, a strategy around climate change can provide an organization a compelling competitive advantage."

Hoffman also is associate director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, a partnership between Ross and SNRE. "Businesses that ignore the debate over climate change do so at their peril," he says. "Climate change policies are imminent, and they will alter key aspects of business strategy, including production economics, cost competitiveness, and investment decisions."

ACCO board members Mitch Jackson, staff director of environmental affairs at FedEx; Valerie Patrick, sustainability coordinator, Bayer Corp.; and ACCO advisory board member Bruce Klafter, head of environmental health and safety (EHS) and sustainability at Applied Materials, will be among industry leaders who will provide case studies at the course, offering insights from recognized experts from organizations that are among the most accredited thought and action leaders on climate change.

U-M will be represented in the course by Hoffman, as well as Erb Institute Director Thomas P. Lyon, Dow Professor of Sustainable Science, Technology and Commerce; and Henry Pollack, 2007 Nobel Peace Prize co-recipient and geophysics professor at U-M. They will draw upon real-world examples from such Fortune 500 companies as FedEx and Applied Materials to provide tomorrow's business leaders with strategies to both minimize bottom-line risk and begin to enhance top-line opportunities. The course is designed for multinational companies facing significant challenges to conducting business in more environmentally sustainable ways.

Participants of the program will walk away with:

  • a scientific basis for taking action on climate change

  • an understanding of the myriad of policies that are being considered for addressing climate change, including a cap-and-trade program (versus a tax), renewable portfolio standards, feed-in tariffs, and others

  • practical, sector-specific tools needed to set effective strategies for managing the business of climate change

  • an understanding of market implications including changes in legislation, voluntary industry initiatives, and associated market drivers

  • strategies to gain "a seat at the table" of policy development

  • a clear sense of the systemic risks and opportunities associated with climate change

  • opportunities for ongoing collaborations with fellow classmates

"It is vital that companies take the necessary steps to mitigate their impact on global warming," says Pollack. "Reducing carbon dioxide emissions should not be seen as an economic penalty, but rather an economic opportunity that will be seized by early responders."

Corporate cliches are for yesterday’s business. Today's business calls for a new kind of leadership, one that sees beyond yesterday’s cliches and creates meaningful change, the kind of change that yields long-term, sustainable results.

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