As someone with a keen interest in the business management science, I always keep an eye on the evolving decision-making strategies. Management education is dedicated to the purpose of improving real life management decisions, applying the principles of management science to the current business challenges. Modern organizations compete in an increasingly uncertain and complicated business environment. Of the many challenges today, in the post-covid world, two trends stand out as fundamentally powerful and progressively interlinked: green transition and digital transformation. What do these compelling trends mean for companies? In summary, organisations that want to stay ahead of competition, take advantage of the emerging trends, and find solutions to the current business challenges are in need of a brand-new generation of socially responsible managers who will be value-oriented, customer-centric, data-driven, and will transform ideas into projects.

ESG: a New Buzz Word or a Meaningful Process?
We have achieved a very clear consensus that to combat climate change and environmental degradation, organizations need new, resource-efficient growth strategies aligned with sustainability principles. Policymakers in EU have set the goal to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 – having adopted a comprehensive action plan for a just and inclusive transition to green economy. The European Green Deal is also a lifeline out of the COVID-19 pandemic. It represents one third of the 1.8 trillion euros investments from the ‘NextGenerationEU Recovery Plan.’

The green transition imperative has made all companies – large and small – introduce a new buzz word to their everyday language of business management: ESG. But – as highlighted in the September/October issue of the Harvard Business Review in the article ‘The Essential Link Between ESG Targets & Financial Performance’ – despite keen attention to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, surprisingly few companies are making meaningful progress in delivering on their commitments. The authors note that most companies are not integrating ESG factors into internal strategy or operational decisions: companies’ “claims about progress on sustainability goals are, at best, mere public relations— and at worst, deliberate misdirection.” Solutions?

As authors argue, leaders must confront the contradictions—and embrace the synergies—between profit and societal benefits and make the bold changes needed to actually deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement and the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The HBR article looks at the six-step process for doing that.

In a nutshell, it is about identifying the ESG issues material to your business, factoring in ESG effects when making strategic, financial, and operational decisions, collaborating with stakeholders, redesigning organizational roles, and ultimately communicating with investors about your new approach.
The authors conclude that “We cannot continue the path we are on today, where companies’ social and environmental actions are after-the-fact interventions disconnected from strategy and decision-making. Focusing on shared value and the economics of impact will lead companies to make fundamental changes to their business models, capital investments, and operations, generating meaningful opportunities for differentiation and competitive advantage. In doing so, they will create an economy that truly works to close social inequities and restore natural ecosystems.”

Digitalization Imperative
Digitalization is another megatrend and another challenge. New challenges demand new managerial competencies. New generation of managers need to use digital technologies to change a business model and generate new revenue streams and value-creating opportunities. To recover from disruptions of traditional business models or to anticipate such disruptions, successful companies undergo a digital transformation. It is the process of moving to a digital business, leveraging digital information technology to entirely transform business’ processes — evaluating and reimagining the way we do business.

In a recent EIB Investment Survey on Digitalization in Europe 2021 – which grouped countries according to firms’ assessment of digitalization: frontrunners, strong, moderate, and modest – Cyprus was in the ‘strong’ group. Based on the index, Finland and Malta are the top two digital countries, followed by Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, and Sweden. The report noted that while Cyprus scored quite well on 5 out of 6 areas of digitalization, it scored lower on training investment.

MSc in Green & Digital Management
Significant barriers in digital and green implementation are the lack of knowledge and understanding of these processes, wrong organizational design, and short-sighted leadership. This is where we see the necessity of introducing a new innovative master program at CIIM by taking into consideration these new dynamics that prevail in the global economy.

The CIIM MSc in Green and Digital Management (GDM) aims to equip its participants with a solid knowledge of sustainability management in the new digital context and allow them to make a meaningful contribution to the global green transition. A unique synthesis of high-quality academic content and ‘learning by doing’ approach is designed to create a brand-new generation of managers who are value-oriented, customer-centric, data-driven, and socially responsible.
CIIM’s new initiative is aligned with international trends. As emphasized this week by Financial Times in their Global Masters in Management Ranking 2022, there is a “particularly strong appetite by students for masters courses offering a focus on digital skills and analytics, as well as sustainability.”

by Dr Olga Kandinskaia
Associate Professor of Finance and Director of the MSc in Green and Digital Management
(previously Director of MSc in Business Management)
Cyprus International Institute of Management – CIIM
[email protected]