Our Management and Corporate Sustainability MSc alumni share their experiences of the course. Read more below.

Debora Widjaja

Debora WidjajaAlumna, Management and Corporate Sustainability MSc, 2016

Business Integrity Associate, Facebook

I chose sustainability because it complemented my background. I was co-founder of a start up company in Indonesia.

I knew things about making a profitable company but I thought profitable companies and companies that are doing good for society are two different things. We can’t have it all; but then I was curious reflecting on the biggest company in the world – that is Unilever. I realised that you can do both things; you can be a company that is doing good but is also doing well.  

So I was curious and I looked at several sustainability courses in the UK and I found Cranfield. It seemed like a no brainer to choose Cranfield in the Corporate Sustainability field because Cranfield is simply the leading university in the UK and when I joined here, it turned out that I was right. 

There were only 11 people in our class made up of 11 different nationalities, which was amazing. The classes were intimate and small, like a discussion rather than a one way conversation. For me the best thing about studying in Cranfield is you are really close to industry – for example, my thesis project was a joint project; a joint venture with Cisco and also a branding agency in London.

One of the most memorable things was attending the Corporate Sustainability conference in Barcelona. Besides the sun and the sea in Barcelona, my favourite thing about the conference was realising that we are not alone.  I met like-minded people who care about building a company that is not only profitable but is also doing good for society and the environment as much as I do. Right now I am working at Facebook in community operations - I don’t exactly work in the sustainability department but I think it is even more important to implement the sustainability principles such as thinking about long term instead of just short term profit for example. It is more important to implement those things in all departments; in all positions, rather than being in a secluded sustainability department and trying to change the light bulb tomorrow to an environmentally friendly one and trying to change people’s behaviour when they don’t really care.

Studying in Cranfield has been a life changing experience for me. 

Michael Agenga

Michael AgengaAlumnus, Management and Corporate Sustainability MSc, 2015

Senior Research Associate, Datamaran

What does sustainability mean to you?
It is the ability to ensure a business can withstand the critical issues around the environment, its social impact and its governance which can have an impact on its operations and long term existence.

Why did you choose to study a course in sustainability?
After several years working in the financial sector in Kenya, I wanted to gain knowledge in this field and to learn some of the best practices provided by the case study method, which is predominately used throughout the course. I chose to study at Cranfield because I wanted to study sustainability alongside management. Cranfield offered this blend of two disciplines where I could top up my skills in general management -  people management, management of finances and operations management - but at the same time become expert in business sustainability.

What were some of the highlights of the course?
One great benefit has been the connections that I made. When you come to Cranfield you meet people from different backgrounds and different walks of life and the connections that this brings is long term and goes beyond your life at Cranfield.

In addition, the Careers Department was very supportive. They are willing help you from the word go when it comes to CV writing, job applications and identifying suitable job opportunities.

What types of activities took place on the course?
In a couple of modules, we were given the opportunity to work with a real client on a real business problem. In the ‘Sustainability in Practice’ module, for example, we were able to help a client develop a sustainability programme for businesses within the community. This was an amazing experience because besides being able to offer assistance to the client, we were also able to gain some critical skills in management consulting. I also had an opportunity to directly participate in local community activities such as environmental conservation.

What happened next?
I’m now working in London for a consultancy Datamaran, which advises the largest market cap companies on their environmental, social and governance performance. The course was a great help in enabling me to get that post – and to do the job! It’s rewarding to feel I can now do my bit to make sure the business world looks after people and the planet.

Ricardo Weigend

Ricardo WeigendAlumnus, Management and Corporate Sustainability MSc, 2015

Head of Circular Economy, ECOR

What is sustainability and how does it impact the work that you do?
The definition I always give when explaining this concept is to use the resources of today in a way that we do not compromise or put in peril the same resources to the next generations. It impacts my daily life, including my work by reflecting in my consumption patterns, in the way I do business and influence people around me.

Why did you decide to study a course in sustainability?
In my role, prior to my Master’s Degree in Management and Corporate Sustainability, I was in charge of the measurement of CO2 emissions in distribution at Heineken México. I felt that during this time I had the right tools to carry out a measure of emissions but not the capability to monetarise sustainability projects and to do it corresponding business cases. I was also looking for the best theories around Sustainability and the best examples out there to implement after finishing my studies.

Why did you choose this course here at Cranfield?
I knew that UK was one of the best regions pushing Sustainability in the world. I did enough research to know that Cranfield was the best institution to study my master’s degree based on the university’s reputation, its ties with the private industries, government and society, not just in UK but worldwide.

What benefits has the course had on your career?
It has had many benefits. On one hand, it gave me what I was initially looking for; the capabilities and tools to perform exceptionally in an organisation. For example, after 3 months back after my masters, I was promoted to an area in Heineken México with more impact and responsibility, as the head of circular economy. The new position that I convinced the organization was needed to have a positive impact as a company in México, not just economically, but social and environmentally.

How have you been able to apply the knowledge that you acquired during the course in your subsequent roles?
Absolutely, especially what I learnt in the Accounting, Strategy, Marketing and Sustainability consulting courses.

Please tell me about any activities that took place on the course that allowed you to apply the knowledge that you gained in class.
I believe that the Barcelona trip and especially the trip to the MIT summit trained us to see and know what was going to happen after finishing our degree. I remember having a conversation at MIT with Ken Webster, the head of Innovation in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (which Cranfield University is a founding member of), and being able to ask him questions based on the theory I learnt during the modules I studied at Cranfield. I was able to create a network of students and professionals that I’m still in touch with.

What skills did the management consulting module give you? Have you applied these in your subsequent roles?
The sense of urgency of giving quality results in time and in full. To realize that we as students can deliver a professional performance as if we were already working as real consultants for companies in need of revamping their offers to consumers or society. I currently work as a Circular Economy Business Developer and have been able to apply the skills that I obtained across all the modules.

Please tell me a bit about the social aspects of the course outlining any social activities that took place.
We were a small group of international students studying the Management and Corporate Sustainability MSc and that allowed us to bond quickly not just as classmates but as a group of friends. We are still in touch and visit each other when we can. I particularly remember a trip we went on to Berlin and Munich, because two of our classmates/friends lived there. Another social activity I happily remember was the invitation to the Guardian Sustainability Awards, a trip that some of us went to along to with David Greyson and where we met Jo Confino and people from WRAP.

Francisco Sierra

FranciscoAlumnus, Management and Corporate Sustainability MSc, 2016

Deputy Director, Agribusiness

What does sustainability mean to you?
At Cranfield I realised that sustainability is all about how companies earn their money so it impacts on every part of our business model from operation to marketing, from finance to stake-holder engagement.

Why did you decide to study a course in sustainability?
I decided to study a course in sustainability for two main reasons:

  • Firstly, because by speaking I believe we can change the way we have been doing business since the first industrial revolution from one just focussed on growth to one focussed on prosperity.
  • Secondly, professionally speaking, I believe in ten years’ time, hopefully less, every CEO should understand sustainability in a way to use it as a lever and create more value.

Why did you choose the course here at Cranfield?
I chose Cranfield over others because I was looking for a business school with a strong background in Corporate Responsibility as well as addressing real business problems. You can find both at Cranfield.

What benefits has the course had on your career?
The main benefit that the course has given me is a new set of management tools to lead on sustainability no matter the industry; an important requirement of being a professional in this field is that you should be able to talk to people within your organisation at all levels and from different areas such as operations, human resources, marketing and finance.

How have you been able to apply the knowledge that you acquired during the course in your subsequent role?
I am applying everything. Currently, I am developing a set of lectures for managers in co-operation with Deloitte Chile to help business here to lead the transition from early stages in CSR to embedding sustainability in their strategic objectives.

Were there any activities that took place on the course that enabled you to apply the knowledge that you gained in the class?
An example was a tree planting exercise. During our trip to Barcelona we felt proud to be studying at Cranfield because of the prestige the Doughty Centre has in the corporate world.  With everyone we were speaking to, in every language, they knew perfectly well about the work the centre has been doing.

What skills did the management consulting provide you with? Have you applied these in your subsequent role?
One of the most interesting experiences for me was the management consulting module.  This module has given me the opportunity to develop my analytical and communication skills one step forward.  Now I can say I am prepared to engage with clients, identifying what the real problem is and providing useful advice. 

Please tell me a bit about the social aspect of the course outlining any social activities that took place.
In terms of the social aspects of the course, I really appreciated the opportunity to meet with relevant activists in Corporate Sustainability such as John Elkington and David Grayson.  For me it was really important to understand their opinion about the future of sustainability and how we should take those challenges into account for our career.