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Become an Effective Change Maker to Impact Sustainability in Business


It’s easy to understand that every company faces challenges. However, some are unique to the company while others are more global in nature. There are many types of changes that an organization may undergo; perhaps the challenges are related to goals to increase output, alter the corporate culture, or improve organizational efficiencies.
Productive transformational change doesn’t always come from the top down; more often than not, mid-level leaders or staff members who are not sitting in the boardroom serve as a catalyst for change in an organization. But just having a passion for change isn’t enough. People still need the tools, the knowledge base, and the inclination to be able to create a blueprint for success. A program like UVM’s Leading Sustainable Innovation Professional Certificate program gives a rapid fire on-ramp to be an effective change agent for a sustainable world.
According to Stuart Hart, professor at University of Vermont’s Grossman School of Business and instructor in the Leading Sustainable Innovation program, innovation usually begins with employees in a company’s function area who often feel as they don’t have any capacity to really influence what the business does. Hart says that simply is not true. “I think it’s a matter of attitude, a matter of mindset and then a matter of motivation to really make a difference,” says Hart. “The Leading for Sustainable Innovation program gives people the tools, the inclination, and maybe the boldness to be the change maker they really can be.”
Increasingly companies are going to be challenged to transform themselves in ways that are conducive to being more socially inclusive as well as environmentally sustainable and even regenerative. Hart says that can mean wholesale transitions all the way from a technology point of view to a business model and underlying product-based point of view. Hart pushes companies even farther by asking, ‘how do we actually cultivate those customers who have been previously left out, the under-served? How do we address the inequalities through business?’ These are not traditionally things that have part of MBA programs or business education but Hart and the program developers behind the Leading Sustainable Innovation Certificate believe these are really the business challenges and opportunities of the future.
“We begin with the premise that every company is challenged by the global issues and challenges around sustainability, environmental challenges, challenges of social equity,” said Hart. “Not all companies and leaders of companies are equally ready to take that on, but a simulation-based learning program like the one in the Leading Sustainable program, is designed for people who are working in companies that have a passion for trying to bring change.”
Building competencies needed to lead innovation and change is key to not only accelerating an organization’s progress towards sustainability but can also help to advance the careers of change makers. Creating value for the business and society, added visibility in the organization, while also deepening a sense of purpose at work can lead to more opportunities within and outside of the organization. Many people and many companies know that innovation is the key to the future and sustainable innovation in particular will be what defines the companies that make it to the future and those that don’t.

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