Unilever sells some 400 brands across the world with 2016 revenues standing at some €52.7 billion. Despite the products’ vast popularity, much of its packaging ends up on landfills and oceans, not recycling bins. How can Unilever start reducing waste, especially from plastic, while putting the circular economy model to work? Gavin Warner of Unilever presented the challenge to the cohort of the University of Exeter’s One Planet MBA on Monday and by Friday the students were to present their ideas on how to repackage an item as ubiquitous as a shampoo bottle in order to create a solution fit for the circular economy. The quality of shampoo and its price, however, were to remain the same.
In discussions over the One Palnet MBA cohort’s trip to, St Michael’s Mount the theme of creativity was often talked about, Cornwall is known for its art scene and the arts play a vital role in the life of the local community and in attracting visitors to the area. We were lucky enough to make contact with the Newlyn School of Art who kindly provided one of their artist tutors, Faye Dobinson, to give a talk to the cohort about how artists respond to place. We spend a huge amount of our week applying cognitive learning and group work to challenges in sustainability, so spending a day in an area of outstanding natural beauty seemed like time we could connect with our felt responses to place.
Faye, talked about how there is a growing movement in art that sees humans as living in a landscape they hadn’t counted on. This landscape is a product of ideas, economics, urban, and spatial planning fuelled by an undercurrent of exploitation of natural resources. She asked us how we can rest easy in this landscape and how can we interrogate it? Faye described how she lets spaces unpack around her over time, as she gets to know different places and make artwork in them. Continue reading
“We stand on the brink of a revolution”, writes Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. A revolution so profound, it will “fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate to one another. In its scale, scope and complexity this transformation will be unlike anything humankind has ever experienced before.” It may seem like Schwab is overreaching at first, but Adam Lusby, lecturer and Circular Economy Research Fellow at the University of Exeter Business School, says that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is indeed characterised by how new technologies are fusing digital, physical and even biological worlds. “This disruption impacts all disciplines, economies and industries. It will challenge what it even means to be human,” he says.
In the intense, four-day module appropriately titled “Leading in the 4th Industrial Revolution,” Adam, the module’s creator and lead, covers everything from Artificial Intelligence, robotics, digital manufacturing, blockchain, cloud computing, mixed reality, augmented reality and much more. The standard model of a module was also flipped. Instead students have the preceding weeks to first immerse themselves into online content, watch videos, complete assignments and even produce videos of their own. Only at the end of a five week lead in, the cohort gathers for a four-day “living lab” of hacking and immersion in technology including Raspberry Pis, NodeRed, and BlueMix from IBM.
Accenture’s latest research shows that the new relationship between human and machine and its impact could boost productivity by as much as 40 per-cent, profoundly changing the very notion of how work is actually performed. In the United Kingdom alone Artificial Intelligence could add an additional $814 billion to the economy by 2035. The growth of 3D printing is also set to skyrocket. Gartner projects that 3D printing will grow from $1.6B in 2015 to some $13.4B by 2018. Some 67% of manufacturing is already using 3D printing, according to PwC, and it will only get faster, and cheaper.
Picture Credits: Chayaporn Kongcharoenkitkul
Conscious of time with deadlines fast approaching in the next few days, we departed Exeter at 7AM to spend a day away from the books. Away from Devon, we stepped into Cornwall – a first for many international students who had yet to explore all of the Southwest treasures!
The day was co-designed by Hugh St. Aubyn and myself to allow the 30 person cohort a creative and inspiring visit to balance off the business theory from class. We placed colourful and inviting signs to find the emerging leader within each of us.
Don’t ask what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people that have come alive
– Howard Thurman, Great Civil Rights Leader
The day promised to be filled with friends, nature, personal reflections and a beautiful historic castle to carry our minds away into imaginary stories and tales that made us step back in time – couldn’t have asked for more on a cold February morning halfway through Term 2 of our MBA.
The magic about St. Michael’s Mount is that you can only access it during low tide, something very rare in the 21st century of drones, planes and automobiles. The patience and timing for our visit set the pace for the day, as we removed our MBA ‘speedometers’ and tried to slow down to the pace of the tide to connect with the magic of the island and the castle.
We recently invited One Planet MBA lecturer Morgen Witzel, business theorist, consultant, lecturer and author of many management books, to advise President Donald Trump on his first 30 days in office.
You’ve had a chance to get your feet under the desk at the White House now, and – I think we must be honest with each other – it could be going better. Things aren’t really turning out as you had hoped, are they? Street protests, criticism in the press, judges overturning your executive orders; and worst of all, more and more people are making fun of you.
You wanted to be a leader who was respected, admired, even feared. Instead, you are turning into one that people laugh at. Oh, Donald. There is no sadder figure than a leader who is mocked. Do you really want to be the next Jeremy Corbyn?
Coinciding with the 5th Anniversary of the One Planet MBA, Paul Polman CEO of Unilever shared with Exeter graduates, faculty, business leaders and current students his thoughts on how a leading consumer goods organisation can thrive in a global world.
Reflections: Tom Sisk, One Planet MBA Cohort member
The recently deceased English writer John Berger wrote “The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich.”
We live in a world where financial wealth comes at a cost to us all (including the rich) when contrarian vested interests between shareholders and stakeholders are having destructive effects on the state of our planet. If our planet destructs, businesses too will become extinct and recent OPMBA guest and keynote speaker, Paul Polman CEO of Unilever understands this very well. Corrective behavior has to be a collaboration between corporations and the consumers they serve and the long term survival of businesses is only possible when the interests of both shareholders and stakeholders align.
As individuals on the MBA, we are on a path to transform for the better, to give back to society and make a difference. The One Planet MBA promotes change and innovation and our lecturers and mentors have one year to provide us with a skill set that will enable us to transform ideas into real projects and execute change for good. Continue reading
The people are the heroes now
Behemoth pulls the peasants’ plough
Thus begins the first act of John Adams’s opera Nixon in China, with a chorus declaiming the victory of socialism: the people rule, and Behemoth – a mythical monster associated by Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan with the overweening power of the state – subservient and domesticated to the will of the people. It is the people who now lead.
It is all tosh, of course, with Adams and his lyricist Alice Goodman poking fun at the pretensions of the Maoist state; in reality, in Mao’s China, Behemoth was very much in control and the peasants did what they were told. The illusion of freedom and the reality of dictatorial rule were very much opposed.
But it is forty years since Mao died and the totalitarian edifice he created began to be dismantled, and the world has changed. After the political upheavals of 2016 we are entitled to ask: is it true? Have the people really taken charge of their own destiny, voting for the leadership they want rather than the leadership they are told they should want? And if so, what are the consequences for leadership? Do our old assumptions about what leadership is still stand up in this brave new world? Continue reading
In the later stages of the One Planet MBA our cohort have the opportunity to develop and apply innovative business thinking to solve the real-life challenge faced by one of our corporate partner organisations. The following case study comes from Glendon Filer a member of the 2016 graduating cohort.
Two Months in Tokyo with PwC Aarata’s Sustainability Team, by Glendon Filer – One Planet MBA Alumnus Class of 2016
I have recently returned from Japan where I undertook my One Planet MBA consultancy project, having spent the summer living and working in Tokyo, while completing an internship with PwC Aarata, Japan. Based 20 minutes’ walk from the entertainment and shopping hub of Shinjuku, I commuted across town each day to PwC’s office in Shiodome. Boasting views of Tokyo harbour and the famous Tsukiji fish market, it was an ideal place for some MBA level thinking. Outside it was a hot summer with many typhoons. Inside the office, days were long but – ultimately – rewarding.
by Delfina Zagarzazú – OnePlanet MBA Candidate 2016/2017
Starting the first week of the program, the cohort of the One Planet MBA was immersed in exploring, discussing and reflecting upon the complexity of the current global challenges facing the world today (see WEF Report on 2016 Global Risks).
The business world is recognizing that operating in fragments with an isolated vision of the world has great implications on other parts of the ecosystem. It is no longer rational to believe the exploitation of resources in Africa won’t have implications on security, migration or food supply issues tied to other activities. As we enter a more fragile epoch with climate change, these operations will directly or indirectly impact our workers, supply chain and/or bottom line of our business. Digital and technological innovation are disrupting entire sectors and promoting new approaches to production and consumption while enabling new business models. Continue reading