Sustainability is the new digital: The need for action in business

If you’re looking for an Executive MBA in Europe, there’s an exciting new program on the scene! In the European Executive MBA program at Vlerick Business School, sustainability runs through the core of its curriculum. We spoke to Bjorn Cumps, Program Director of the European Executive MBA, and Leonardo Meeus, Director of the Energy Centre and Academic Director of the Online MBA at Vlerick Business School, to learn more about the European Executive MBA program and the state of sustainability in Europe and beyond.

In short

Introducing the European Executive MBA at Vlerick Business School

The European Executive MBA at Vlerick Business School is an 18-month, part-time, blended program for aspiring leaders. Bjorn says, “The European Executive MBA is an MBA program with a twist. It has three specific aspects that make it quite unique.” (06:03) Let’s explore these three aspects:

1. The program is uniquely European

The European Executive MBA program includes six modules that take place in different European cities: Brussels, Paris, Copenhagen, Dublin, Madrid, and Zaragoza. This provides students with a unique opportunity to explore and immerse themselves in European businesses, setting them up for success in the dynamic continent.

2. The program is flexible

The European Executive MBA program blends online and in-person learning, offering “the best of both worlds,” as Bjorn puts it. “Part of it is online learning, where we focus on efficiency, making sure that you can combine [your studies] and have a good work-life balance and make sure that you can do it from different locations,” he adds. “Next to that, we also want to add the on-location component and the face-to-face aspect and we do that with the different modules on location.” (07:01)

3. The program has a strong focus on sustainability

“Sustainability, [in] this program, is not just one course,” Bjorn tells us. “What we did is we will make sure that sustainability runs through the entire program and that [it] is really intertwined with all of the different modules that you will follow.” (07:34)

Students will not only learn about the topic of sustainability, but how the latest technologies – from digital transformation to blockchain – as well as more traditional domains, like finance and accounting, are linked to sustainability.

The heart of tomorrow’s businesses: Sustainability in the European Executive MBA

As Bjorn emphasized, sustainability is not a standalone topic in Vlerick’s European Executive MBA program. It defines the core of the entire curriculum – and this is 100% by design.

As climate change continues to devastate ecosystems, biodiversity, and humans across the globe, it is clear that businesses and corporations have a crucial role to play in addressing the urgent need for climate action.

Sustainability dominates the conversation in today’s business landscape. Almost all of the world’s largest companies publish sustainability reports, more than 2,000 companies have set science-based carbon targets to reduce their emissions, and almost one-third of Europe’s largest public companies have pledged to reach net-zero by 2050.

“[Sustainability] will become something at the heart of every organization,” Bjorn states. “I hear some companies say ‘sustainability is the new digital.’ It will become part of your normal way of doing business.” (10:50)

“I don’t think there [are] a lot of organizations out there today who still see this as a fad or the next new trend. This is serious,” Bjorn adds. “In Europe, they mean business on this and they have a strong vision to go forward. That means that organizations will need to follow. That means that people working in organizations – managers, leaders – will have to have a very good grasp of what this topic now exactly means.” (11:47)

With modules like “Ethical Finance,” “Sustainable Supply Chains,” and “Purposeful and Resilient Organizations,” the European Executive MBA program is designed to build impactful leaders in sustainability.

Sustainability in Europe: The EU Green Deal

Situated in the heart of Europe in Brussels, Vlerick Business School is the perfect place to study sustainability in a European context. Europe has consistently led the charge in sustainability.

“Innovation often happens out of necessity,” Leonardo explains. “As we are now a first-mover in the world to talk very concretely [about] what [sustainability] means, what kind of regulations we need to get to this kind of climate neutrality we want, that means we will have a framework that will force companies, so they will have to comply with all these new rules.” (05:02)

Most recently, the European Commission announced the European Green Deal, a set of policy initiatives with the main objective of making the EU the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Over EUR€1 trillion will finance the EU Green Deal. As Bjorn mentioned earlier, Europe means business.

The EU Green Deal is an incredibly ambitious plan, but one that is long overdue. Leonardo says, “I think it has received a lot of attention because we realized we don’t only need to completely transform the energy industry…but it’s about transforming everything. It’s about transforming industry, it’s about transforming our cities, and our citizens will more and more feel the direct impact of that. I think it’s very exciting.” (03:07)

The EU Green Deal will have a huge impact on businesses in Europe and beyond. In the European Executive MBA, students will learn how to develop future-proof sustainability strategies by studying real-life cases, working with organizations, and collaborating with other business schools. Using a strategy framework and case studies, Leonardo recently hosted a webinar about the EU Green Deal and what it means for organizations. Check out the webinar here.

A truly “European” Executive MBA

So, how is the program truly “European”?

For one, the program takes place across different cities in Europe. However, Bjorn describes how the program’s curriculum is also designed with a European context in mind.

For example, the EU recently announced new regulations for big tech companies, like Facebook and Google, to create fairer and more competitive digital markets. It also recently introduced new regulations on cryptocurrencies. “Why?” Bjorn asks. “Because some crypto has a substantial impact on energy aspects, on the amount of energy needed to basically get the system up-and-running.” (16:38)

In the European Executive MBA program, Bjorn explains, “We will [take] some time to understand what is happening, to visit some of these European institutions, and to also make sure that we link, for example, regulatory aspects of the business topics.” (15:55)

In Brussels, the de facto “capital” of Europe, students will get rare access to the inner workings of some of Europe’s biggest businesses. As Bjorn puts it, “Where better [than] Brussels – linking to these institutions, being in those institutions with our groups and with our students – to actually think about the societal aspects? That’s, I think, what makes [the program] really, truly European.” (16:56)

In conclusion, if you’re looking for an Executive MBA in Europe, as well as to build your career in Europe and become a leader in sustainability, then the European Executive MBA at Vlerick Business School might be the perfect fit for you.

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