Next Generation Sustainability Leadership

The program is designed to:

· outline key content and definitions in the field of sustainability leadership and innovation, signposting relevant literature and sources of information;

· highlight the nature of the field as fast-moving, locating areas of agreement and contention;

· help participants develop expertise and confidence as strategic leaders in a business and/or organizational setting;

· empower participants to close the gap from ‘knowing to doing’;

· support participants in identifying a business/organizational challenge and moving it forward through innovation;

· help participants promote sustainability for value creation;

·  be a transformational leadership and personal development program;

· support participants contribution to the co-creation of thriving, sustainable communities in Bulgaria and beyond.

Participants will undertake a series of pre-sessional exercises related to ‘Sustainable Self’, the outcomes of which will frame content in Session 1.  Drawing on the experience of the cohort, key conceptual frameworks will be explored, and participants will be invited to translate knowledge into their own business/organizational context.    

This executive leadership program will be illustrated with practice-based case studies from a range of business sectors, the aim of which is to inspire participants to champion local change. 

Each participant will be required to identify a key sustainability and innovation leadership challenge and work on this to promote innovation, reporting on their progress to cohort participants and the program’s sponsors.  The program can also help the establishment of a community of practice in Bulgaria, deepening professional networks that can support peer-to-peer coaching and learning going forward. 

Participants in the program will be expected to:

· Undertake pre-session and post-session activities, as determined by the program team;

· Engage with the designated materials in a critically evaluative way and seek out additional sources for interest and sharing with fellow participants;

· Set aside time for personal reflection and deeper strategic engagement with the topics;

· Contribute in the classroom/online in a way that respects the input of all participants;

· Support peer-to-peer and group work;

· Participate in facilitated online workshops and related events;

· Be a role model, in a personal and professional capacity;

· Share their learning with colleagues, family and friends;

· Adopt a growth mindset, open to new ideas and lifelong learning.

Program Topics

Program content is integrated across classroom and online sessions and experiential learning through the participants own Sustainability Leadership and Innovation Program (SLIP) change project.  The program supports strategic leadership towards sustainability and innovation and is designed around five key topics and a self-managed change project.

(1)  Leading in Complexity

This topic covers how to deal respectfully with the complexity of the world today and effectively facilitate change in this context.  Participants will explore the meaning and implications of complexity for social change and their own leadership practice in building a vibrant, sustainable future together with others.  Complexity will be examined in the meta-context (global and societal trends) and at the organizational and sector levels.

The participants will be enabled to:

· develop knowledge about and understanding of leadership in complexity, specifically related to transformative change for sustainability and innovation;

· develop skills required to work effectively with complex challenges, including the ability to reflect on various approaches in the field;

· reflect on, practice and develop their leadership skills and leadership style to effect change sustainably in conditions characterised by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

(2)  The Sustainability Change Journey

This topic will define sustainability principles and themes, in line with the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), and explore natural systems and the five capitals.  Participants will be encouraged to articulate the milestones on the path to their organization’s desired future, what steps they can take today and how they can measure movement in the right direction. 

Integrating sustainability into core functions is key to optimizing benefits realization and this relies upon effective communication skills and confidence in leading change.  Participants will develop an appreciation of systems thinking and interpersonal competencies for sustainability practice.  The role of stakeholders and building customer trust through transparency will also be explored.

The participants will be enabled to:

· define sustainability principles and themes, and locate their actions within the Sustainability Development Goals;

· appreciate the contribution of natural systems, the five capitals and systems thinking to sustainability innovation and practice;

· develop knowledge about and understanding of strategic thinking and planning at organizational/team levels for sustainability;

· develop knowledge and practical understanding of how a methodology for strategic sustainable development can be used to structure and coordinate innovation;

· develop leadership skills through team work and other collaborative means.

(3)  Innovation for Sustainability

This topic positions sustainability as innovation’s new frontier.  Thinking differently about the business model requires the systematic review of products, services and governance models.  Leaders need to be able to question the implicit assumptions behind current practices and drive innovation, harnessing creativity to create value through efficiency gains and effectiveness measure.  Participants will explore smart innovation which starts small, learns fast and scales rapidly relying upon experiments and pilots, debriefing and learning, and scaling where appropriate.

The participants will be enabled to:

· develop knowledge about, and understanding of how innovation can support organizational transitioning to sustainability;

· develop practical leadership skills in this area, in how to apply methods and tools to innovate for sustainability.

(4)  Sustainability to Business Value

This topic addresses means to align the sustainability strategy with business strategy and create and execute viable approaches for evolving products, systems, organizations and communities in a way that supports society’s transition towards sustainability.  Enhancing governance and risk management for better results and embedding sustainability into operational business/organizational functions will be explored.  The importance of tactical adjustments made along the way, while staying focused on the goal and building collaborative capacity through partnerships and alliances will be discussed - giving attention to the six activities of the circular-economy (regenerate, loop, exchange, virtualize, share, optimize).  The gap between values and actions will also be considered.

The participants will be enabled to:

· develop knowledge about and understanding of society’s sustainability challenges and the basic reasons for these;

· develop knowledge about and understanding of a structuring and coordinating methodology for strategic sustainable development in their own organization.

(5)  Sustainable Self

To get an organization to change, individuals need to change – organizations don’t change, people do.  This topic considers personal values, attitudes and beliefs to make sustainability personal and support role modelling.  Participants will explore the importance of aligning actions with values, to empower people to change and support others in transition.  Alongside knowledge, skills and practice, intrinsic motivations will be examined and used to support the personal resilience and agility necessary to be a successful change agent.

(6)  Sustainability Leadership and Innovation Program (SLIP) Change Project

Each participant is required to identify a key sustainability and innovation leadership challenge and work on this to promote innovation, reporting on their progress to cohort participants and the program’s sponsors.  The SLIP project will feature in each classroom session and will be supplemented through a dedicated online session (Session 3).


Overview of Sustainability Environment



Today Responsibility and Sustainability are already core expectations that define the behavior and every day activities of leading companies. Often these expectations are neither explicitly outlined nor formalized but the tension persists and if not met they become a risk for the company development.

The course will in this regard position the company as a stakeholder in a mixed environment of complicated relations with various players. These are other parties, including shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, financiers, communities, governmental bodies, political groups, trade associations, and trade unions. 

The stakeholder theory presentation and perception will be at the core of situating the management in a place where a company can identify and satisfy the interests of stakeholders in its business as usual.

A time will be spent on introduction of stakeholder management, including:

1) Identification, recognition and acknowledgement of relevant stakeholders;
2) Determination of the influence and interest they have and their prioritization;
3) Establishing a communication management plan, and
4) Influencing and engaging them for your success.


1) Provide students with an understanding of stakeholder theory and the role of the company in the myriad of various interests among the societal players;
2) Provide them with clear vision on how to become a “good company” at company level, to understand, meet and manage the expectations of their owners, employees and clients;
3) Provide them with clear vision on how to become a “good expert” at industry level, to understand, meet and manage the expectations of their partners, suppliers, competitors and HEI/VEI/research institutions;
4) Provide them with clear vision on how to become a “good employer” at employer level, to understand, meet and manage the expectations of trade unions and state institutions;
5) Provide them with clear vision on how to become a “good neighbor” at community level, to understand, meet and manage the expectations of local groups and non-business actors (NGOs, schools, cultural organizations, etc.);
6) Provide them with clear vision on how to become a “good corporate citizen” at national/regional/international level, to understand, meet and manage the expectations of state institutions and international organizations;
7) Working with them to create integrated approach to their business – thinking, design, planning, implementation and reporting.

The Case for Sustainability



Leaders are being asked to prepare for uncertainty in uncertain times, and lead in situations characterized by high degrees of ambiguity. With a drive to deliver sustainable organizations, the program presents sustainability as key to driving innovation. This enables and empowers teams to deliver against the strategic objectives of their organization, working in partnership with stakeholders.

Environmental sustainability steps on and goes beyond standard corporate environmental management. It assumes legal compliance is achieved and your company wishes to make a green step forward to acquire competitive advantage. Day 1 is designed to acquaint you with the concepts, facts and tools you need to understand to navigate a company in the mystic waters of “sustainability” in Bulgaria.


1) To provide students with an understanding of what is “sustainability”;
2) To develop an understanding of the key activities performed in managing environmental sustainability in a company;
3) To expose students to a variety of concepts, tools and techniques used by sustainability managers to accomplish operations activities; and
4) To raise awareness of myths, perceptions and emerging topics in environmental sustainability.

Managing towards Sustainability



“Sustainable development” is present in all manner of places in the public sphere, and it seems to be a factor for decision making on different policies and activities, in favour of society and the environment. Many companies are focusing their strategies and activities on different aspects of sustainable development, mainly responding to public perceptions, formed by media, policies and NGOs. However, such attempts to meet publicly implicit expectations sometimes fail to relate business’ ‘sustainable” actions to its goals and success.

In the course of my work with the students, I will support them in developing the needed understanding and capacities for leading:

  • How business can assess publicly perceived problems in relation to the natural, social and human capitals as relevant for its success. 
  • How to relate these to the business core – its values and strategies.

I will work to support the students in understanding what “real” sustainability is guiding them through why:

  • “Real” sustainability is embedded within a company’s values, leadership & governance.
  •  Being successful is sustainable.


1)Provide students with an understanding of sustainability that supports their capacity for successful business management, avoiding contradictory or inefficient decisions when defining & planning the company sustainability; 2)Provide a picture of the role of the sustainability manager in the company setting and of where sustainability management lies within a company’s business processes;
3)Share approaches and tools for decision-making in sustainability management.

Sustainability in Marketing


Modern organizational leaders and high level individual contributors are nowadays more informed and work towards improving products, services and operational approaches for a more sustainable enterprise approach. The Sustainable Marketing philosophy, while building on the classic approach of meeting needs profitably, introduces the benchmark of the triple bottom line and its relevance to assuring organizational success now and in the future. Sustainable Marketing presents the key concepts and frameworks that will help formal and informal leaders firmly unite internal and external stakeholders around initiatives that will identify, create, deliver and communicate attractive value propositions for consumers, customers, employees and stakeholders and thus assure a competitive edge, as well as an inspiring development prospect for the organization.


1)To provide participants with an understanding of the new 5th generation of management philosophy defined by the triple bottom line that caters to financial, social and environmental contribution;
2)To develop an understanding of consumer and employee behavior, decision making and attitude formation;
3)To assure the adoption of a sustainable approach in product and service development to consumers and for employees who’s choice of workplace is ever more defined by the inspirational mission of the organization;
4)To describe the approaches to pricing for success which is often a barrier for internal initiation and customer adoption of sustainable products and services;
5)To define the strategic role of communication and corporate social responsibility in assuring the buy-in of all internal and external stakeholders and
6)To ultimately draw the path to the development of a sustainable marketing strategy with the appropriate targets that remove apprehension and motive modern business leaders to engage in project and activities that will drive the organization towards success.

Sustainability and the Built Environment



This course is designed to encourage individuals to develop insights and world views that make business sense of sustainability and empower leaders to bring about impactful change. The materials and information presented bring together the best of leading academic research and industry practitioners.Through combining academic foundations with leading business insights in a collaborative and practical approach to learning, the course aims to equip business professionals with:

  • basic knowledge of global social, environmental and economic trends, and the definition of sustainability; 
  • ability to develop the strategic business case for organisational change; 
  • an understanding of the ways in which business can catalyse wider system-level change;  
  • the critical skills and confidence to embed sustainability into business action at an organisational level to achieve practical outcomes.

Learning Objectives

1)Have a broad understanding of the global social, environmental, economic and ethical ‘system pressures’ affecting business, government and civil society. 
2)Understand the evolution of the sustainability debate and the conceptual frameworks that underpin it.
3) Develop a multi-disciplinary perspective on sustainability.
4)Understand the systemic failings that drive unsustainability in our current economic system, and recognise the paradigm shifts necessary to achieve a sustainable economy.
5)Have a clear understanding of the major arguments advanced in the ‘business case’ for sustainable business, as well as the research and limitations surrounding these claims.  
6)Respond innovatively and creatively to emerging social and economic trends that pose risks or opportunities for an organisation.
7)Understand the characteristics of a change agent for sustainability, including listening, building coalitions, identifying key leverage points, influencing/inspiring others, and resilience.
8)Understand own personal leadership motivations and values, and how these align with wider business needs and drivers.

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