Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The green book of the week - The Sustainable MBA: The Manager’s Guide to Green Business

The first thought I had in mind when I read "The Sustainable MBA: The Manager’s Guide to Green Business" by Giselle Weybrecht was that I wish this book would have been published 10 years ago when I was an MBA student. Since that can't happen, I can only wish every current MBA student, from those in Harvard to those taking MBA classes online, will get to read it and learn valuable lessons about green business.

As an adjunct professor in the University of Delaware's Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, teaching MBA and undergraduate students sustainability and green business, I find this book a great resource to both young and old graduates who are looking to better understand how to integrate sustainability in their organization.Link

This is not just a useful book, but also one that makes you think about the basics of sustainability and how much it makes sense for business in so many levels, creating opportunities, increasing revenues and decreasing costs and risks. If you need a mirror to how unsustainable the current business world is and a guide showing you how exactly you can change it, no matter what area you're operating in, this is your book.

We wanted to learn more about the book and asked the author, Giselle Weybrecht, for an interview. You can read it just after the details on the book and the author.

About the book:

The Sustainable MBA: The Manager’s Guide to Green Business provides the knowledge and tools to help you “green” your job and organization, to turn sustainability talk into action for the benefit of your bottom line and society as a whole.

The Sustainable MBA is organized like a business school course – allowing you easy access to the relevant information you need about sustainability and Accounting, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Ethics, Finance, Marketing, Organizational Behaviour, Operations and Strategy.

Based on more than 100 interviews with experts in business, international organizations, NGOs and universities from around the world, this first of its kind guide brings together all the pieces of the business and sustainability puzzle including;

    ❑ The basics on what sustainability is, why you should be interested, how to get started, and what a sustainable organization looks like.
    ❑ A wide range of tools, guidelines, techniques and concepts that you can use to implement sustainability practices.
    ❑ Tools and tips on how to “green” your job, including how to sell these ideas to your team, how to make green choices as a consumer and how to organize green meetings.
    ❑ A survey of the exciting trends in sustainable business happening around the world.
    ❑ A wealth of links to interesting resources for more information.
To see a full Table of Contents and a sample chapter click here

About the author:

Giselle Weybrecht is the author of ‘The Sustainable MBA: The Manager’s Guide to Green Business’ published by Wiley in 2010 ( The book aims to educate the next generation of business leaders about sustainability issues, whether these be students or business executives. Prior to this she worked for many years with the United Nations internationally in sustainable development including with the UN World Water Assessment Programme at UNESCO. She has also worked with government, NGOs, business and with social entrepreneurs around the world in sustainability.

Giselle holds an undergraduate degree from Queens’ University in Canada in political science and development studies and an MBA from London Business School and is a graduate of the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Programme at University of California Berkeley. Today she writes, speaks and does consulting relating to embedding sustainability into business schools and businesses internationally and developing engagement and training programs to ensure that students and employees know what sustainability is all about and how they can be part of making their businesses more sustainable.

And now to the interview with Giselle:

Hello Giselle. What difference do you see between the time when you were MBA student and today when it comes to embedding sustainability in business schools?

My answer to this question really depends on the day you ask it. Some days I feel that things are completely different for these new classes of MBA students. They have access to a greater number of electives, courses, clubs, speaker series, and conferences, all focused on topics related to sustainability. I regularly speak with faculty and deans who are really committed to these issues and embedding them into the curriculum.

There is definitely a growing interest in business schools about these issues. However, there are other days, when I take a closer look at some of these initiatives or speak with the students taking part in these events, that I realize that the majority of MBA students are still graduating with very little knowledge about what sustainability means to business, why it is important and how to implement it. The embedding part is taking a lot longer than I would have liked.

Do you think business schools are moving forward faster or slower than the business world itself when it comes to sustainability?

Business schools are moving much slower than the business world. There are many companies that are really pushing the boundaries when it comes to sustainability. They are exploring what it means to their core business, their customers and their employees. Business schools are increasingly talking about it but few are really taking a serious look at it in the way that businesses are.

Of all the topics you describe in the book (finance, operations, marketing, etc.) - where do you think we see the most progress?

There is a lot of progress being made in all of the areas described in the book, and there is an increasing number of individuals and organizations working on each of the topics covered. Most companies start with the more straightforward subjects; marketing, operations, strategy. Fewer companies have been looking at topics such as accounting, finance and even organizational behavior, but this is changing rapidly.

When I read your book, the business case of sustainability seems very clear - so how come we don't see more companies that adopt these practices? Is it lack of vision, leadership, policy incentives or there's just not enough interest on the consumers side?

As outlined in the book there are several reasons why businesses move forward in this area. The details of exactly why and how vary depending on the business, the industry, the location. It is up to managers and employees to think strategically about what this has to do with their business, their customers, and their employees in particular. Many managers still think sustainability is a feel good topic, that it is about doing the right thing that it is something you can switch on and off. In reality, sustainability is a complex topic and requires a real commitment.

What would you suggest to managers who want to better understand what sustainability is all about and how they can use it at work? Where should they start (or what's the second step after buying your book)?

Regardless of what your job is there are ways for you to start exploring these issues, and potentially make a real impact through your work. In the book there is a chapter called Getting Started to help employees and managers move forward in this area as well as many tips and tools to get you started. I recommend starting with the book to get a good grasp of the issues and what is happening in this area. Then spend a bit of time looking into what is happening both in your business and in your industry with sustainability. Pick the topics that you feel most affect your business or the job that you do and move forward from there.

What would you recommend to students who are looking for an MBA program? How should they take into account the 'green' factor? Should they prefer programs that focus mainly on green issues (like the programs at Presidio Graduate School)?

For students who decide to do an MBA my suggestion is to make sure you get the strongest business education you can. In order to bring sustainability into business and to make a difference in this area, graduates need to have a sound knowledge of business. During the MBA, there are countless ways to learn about sustainability. Look at schools that provide a good balance of the two.

Do you find yourself more or less optimistic today comparing to what you felt when you started working on this book?

I'm a very optimistic person, although I often get frustrated at how slowly progress happens. I have received an incredible response to the book and what the book is trying to do, by businesses, academics and individuals. Things are picking up in this area, it is very exciting.

What are you currently working on? Any new book on the horizon?

I have a lot of new projects happening at the moment, which include a new book, developing innovative workshops for business and university on sustainability, speaking and strategic consulting work. Keep an eye on my website ( for more details about these!

Thank you, Giselle! To learn more about the book visit Last but not least, the book is printed on FSC-certified paper. You can buy it on Amazon (it's also available as an ebook).


Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Working to green up the publishing industry!