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Yale SOM students at GNW in Australia holding the Yale flag
Yale MBA for Executives Class of 2024 representatives (from left) Josh Reed, Dr. Amaziah Coleman, Lindsay Schindler, and Shelley McNeill at UNSW’s Global Network Week

Exploring the Impact of Business in Sustainable Development at UNSW

Shelley McNeill ’24 on exploring the “grand challenges” and “wicked problems” of sustainability that confront today’s business leaders during Global Network Week.

The world’s demands for a renewed social contract between business and society echo loudly in the aftermath of the pandemic and a summer heat wave no one can ignore. Seeking a deeper understanding of global trends and regulatory issues in sustainability management, I recently participated in Global Network Week (GNW) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). This immersive experience not only broadened my understanding of socially responsible organizations and innovations but also equipped me with the management strategies and skills required to drive sustainable development. (Yes, it wowed me!)

The GNW experience is an opportunity to pursue intensive study at another Global Network for Advanced Management member school. Students can leverage the perspectives, programs, and faculty expertise of that school while there. With a diverse global cohort, the collaborative experience includes daily classes, touring local businesses, and meeting with experts focused on current business problems.  Representing the Yale School of Management, Lindsay Schindler, Dr. Amaziah Coleman, Josh Reed, and I made the 20-hour trip to the Land Down Under, arriving in Sydney, Australia.

group of students in front of white board
group of five people standing in hallway
With the incredible Global Network Week cohort at UNSW, Sydney, which included a diverse group of inspirational professionals (left) and with my UNSW learning team.

From the moment I stepped onto the UNSW campus, I was greeted and inspired by a diverse cohort of amazing professionals. Together, we delved into the notion of sustainability’s “grand challenges” and “wicked problems” that confront today’s business leaders. Under the guidance of esteemed UNSW professors Markus A. Höllerer and Danielle Logue, I was constantly engaged in the invaluable insights about managing for social impact and sustainable business development across various industry sectors. The program challenged my perceptions of leadership, inspiring me to envision my role in effecting positive change on the environment, society, and climate.

These engaging professors helped us move beyond theory, exposing us to a myriad of organizational forms and business models for social innovation and sustainable development. From social enterprises to hybrid structures, I was given the opportunity to take a deep dive into how these global entities create, capture, and distribute social value. The program also introduced us to the emerging global market for impact investing, fueling my passion for envisioning innovative solutions to drive positive change.

group of people around a dinner table
group of people around a dinner table
Enjoying a sustainable meal our class cooked in the local community

Amidst the captivating beauty of Sydney, its unique environment, and its incredible people, our exploration extended to understanding organizations within global and field-level institutional environments. With conceptualizations of markets and industries as “fields,” we navigated macro-level influences, acknowledging the need for strategic alignment and adaptive responses to foster social impact amidst complexity. Guest talks by prominent figures like CEO Hanna Ebeling and Arminé Nalbandian, CEO of the Centre for Social Impact, left indelible impressions on my understanding of the challenges and opportunities for the board and leaders.

A highlight of the program was the final project, where we shared ideas for engaging stakeholders and embedding sustainability into the business strategy. I loved having the opportunity to learn with Julia Lamparter, Devashish Shivmurthy, Maria Zambrano Leon, and “Jack” Qiao Qinghua.

three people in the outdoors
Dr. Amaziah Coleman, Lindsay Schindler, and I visit the breathtaking Three Sisters rock formation in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Austrailia

Beyond the academic journey, the program introduced us to the inspiring sights and sounds of Sydney, a city where innovation meets natural beauty. We networked near Bondi Beach at an incredible restaurant in which I was in awe of the accomplishments of my fellow students. Networking with my global peers, hearing their unique perspectives, and exploring Sydney’s rich culture created an unforgettable experience. I thank them for sharing it with me!

In Yale School of Management’s spirit of making an impact on business and society, the incredible experience at UNSW—which also included Alam Hallan, Emerson Luiz Oliveira, Alfonso Radamés Estrada Maya, Margo Cesario, Anusha Belagali, Michelle Koffler, Ritu Rawat, Kevin Ong, Avinash Anand Ambastha, Alexandra Rohlfs,  Xing Wen, Malou Santiago, Aishwarya Rajashekaran, Marisa Blanke Tracey Love, Grace Ning, and Maja—has transformed me into an aspiring sustainability leader, poised to make an impact on a global scale in ways I had not previously considered.

The connections formed, along with the profound insights gained, have left me with a clear sense of purpose. I’m honored that I had the opportunity to learn with such an incredible group of awe-inspiring professionals from across the globe.

Reposted with permission from LinkedIn.