September 27, 2021 | News

On September 24th, a panel of distinguished speakers took the stage at IMD Lausanne to inspire students and push them to be challenging, during the Sustainable Management & Technology Master Program’s inaugural event from the E4S Center.

“We aim to train a new generation of responsible leaders to tackle some of society’s biggest challenges,” said Jean-Pierre Danthine, Co-Managing Director of the E4S Center, as he welcomed the 32 students of the newly created Master Program in Sustainable Management & Technology, delivered jointly by UNIL-HEC, IMD and EPFL.

The event marked the official launch of a program designed by the three prestigious Swiss academic institutions, which aims to equip the next generation of leaders with the skills and knowledge to create value for their organizations and society. “Change requires a new breed of young leaders,” said Bruno Roche, Founder of Economics of Mutuality, during one panel on circular economy. “You will become the orchestra conductors for systemic change” added Benoit Greindl, CEO of the Resilience Institute.

Gathered at IMD’s campus in Lausanne Frédéric Herman, rector of UNIL reminded students of the challenges facing society. “With humanity on the edge of an abyss, and moving in the wrong direction, the world must wake up”, he said, quoting UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “The next generation will face problems of complexity unseen. They will need a different set of skills” added IMD Professor Arnaud Chevallier, who is co-director of the Master program.

The two-year Master program is built around the three main pillars of sustainability, technology and management. The class, a third of which are engineering students and two-thirds economics and management students, will be taught subjects as diverse as the “Science of Climate Change”, “Robotics”, as well as “Leadership” and “Sustainable finance”. “Creating a regenerative economy requires a new way of thinking, and this is what the program will teach” said Benoit Greindl.

During the event there were three expert panel discussions: Bruno Roche and Benoit Greindl spoke on circular and regenerative economics; Margot Stuart, co-founder of OriginAll and Leo Daguet, Breakthrough Innovation Manager from Richemont on blockchain and harnessing technology for good; and Nicolas Cudré-Mauroux, CTO of Solvay and Vincent Eckert from SwissRe on the importance of transparency and ESG measurement.

The Master’s inauguration was also an opportunity to challenge the students, reminding them to be bold. “I would expect you to push me, to make me uncomfortable. So, you will need courage and to get courage, you will need knowledge, provided by the SMT Master Program” said Nicolas Cudré-Mauroux from Solvay. “In keeping with our purpose here at IMD, we intend to challenge and inspire you over the next two years – but I am certain you will likewise challenge and inspire us!” added David Bach, Dean of Innovation and Programs at IMD.

By choosing this new and unique endeavor, the first cohort has definitely shown some courage already, a value they will need throughout the program. “There is always something unique about a first class. You are pioneers and you always will be” said David Bach, before introducing another world-class pioneer, Bertrand Piccard, the man who flew twice around the world – in a hot-air balloon and a solar-powered airplane – and one of the first to envision ecology through the lens of profitability. “You will have to go beyond certainties” said the Swiss pilot and clean technology ambassador. “Impossible goals bring together talented people and pioneers”.

Cesla Amarelle, State Councillor and Minister of Education, Youth and Culture at Canton de Vaud, also voiced her support for the program. “This collaboration is a strong sign that we can build bridges between science, technology and business for a more sustainable future This country has developed an innovative economy; it is our responsibility to grow this precious ecosystem,” she said.

This inauguration underscored the strength of this Master program: to bring together a mix of leaders from business, academia, politics and innovation; a combination of topics from sustainability, management and technology; and a touch of boldness to tackle society’s greatest challenges. “We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”, said Martin Vetterli, President of EPFL, closing an inspiring afternoon with a Native American proverb.