FIIB –The B-School with a Green Conscience

Delivered at the Founder’s Day @ FIIB, 21st February 2011, also marked as launching of sustainability development center.

 For many of us, the words sustainability conjures up images of smoke blowing factories, overflowing landfills, and many such other dangerous environmental hazards.  However, in the last decade or so without any of us realizing, Sustainability has crept up on every aspect of our lives.  The dictionary meaning of the word Sustainability is ‘the ability to endure’, and if used in the business/application sense, sustainability means protecting the environment while also elevating the social and economic status of everyone in the community.

 I believe that the business case for sustainability exists and it is a strong one. That is why many of the largest companies in the world like BP, Wal-Mart, GE, Unilever have dedicated staff at the CXO level working on providing a green reason for the Companies’ existence, or to borrow a phrase from authors Esty and Winston, converting the Green into Gold. These companies understood that the traditional elements of competitive differentiation are fading in importance and their place is being taken by green factors. These I would call the smart Companies that have used their environmental strategy to innovate, create value and build competitive advantage.

 Closer to home we have an ITC and a DA, which are also able to successfully marry the business and the green thinking, and are achieving both environmental and business success. This success, this thinking needs to be spread out, percolated to the many more companies.  As we speak many companies are thinking about giving sustainability a place at the decision-making table.

 At FIIB, we see this as a business opportunity, a niche that could provide us our competitive advantage. In the coming times, there will be huge need for managers who can build capacity within organizations to incorporate sustainability into strategic planning and daily decision-making.

 FIIB has taken it as its core to prepare these leaders of tomorrow. And here we are immensely thankful to our advisory panel members and our various collaborators; they have all agreed to join us in our cause to advance our efforts in building and supporting an economy built around People, Planet and Profit. Today we are laying foundation for a Sustainability Development center, which will help with our mission.

 We cannot be preaching what we don’t practice and that is why our Institute is also adopting a Sustainability Policy that will govern our work towards achieving sustainable development in all aspects of our activity.

 Broadly, we have identified three levels of impact

 1.   Our academic activities:

2.   Our Operations

3.   Our Communities

 On the academic activity front, we have committed to taking a proactive approach to providing expertise and resources in sustainability. While we have made some progress –this trimester we have offered two courses in this area that have been offered to students irrespective of their major, we will continue to stimulate the creation of more sustainability related courses. We will integrate sustainability into our mission of research, education and service.

 Secondly, we need to elevate the role of sustainability in campus operations. We want to make it an ingredient in what we build, how we get around, and what we consume and throw away. We will review our procurement and contracting policies to reflect sustainability concerns.

 Lastly, we need to step up our work with the local communities.  We will work to engage students and staff already involved in volunteer and service projects in sustainability related efforts.

  This is not a simple problem and hence it does not have a simple solution. As an institution, we can only do so much. Our success depends in large part on cooperation and commitment from our staff –both Teaching and Non Teaching and to a large part on our students. To help bring people on board, we plan to launch an educational campaign, “Sustainability Responsibility,” that will explain the sustainability concept and discuss how we can all contribute to this initiative’s success. In future years we will use this day – Founder’s Day – to report to our stakeholders our progress and our course of action on this cause.

 No doubt that sustainability is important for FIIB as it should be for every responsible corporate and educational institution. One may ask why chose to talk about it today, well we are announcing our activities and launch of the  Sustainability Development Center (SDC) on the Founder’s Day of FIIB because there is a strong link with the philosophy with which the Founder Late Sh. R.K Shrivastava had setup FIIB, led his life and what we are laying the foundation for today.  RK as he was popularly known among his friends and colleagues was a leader and innovator. He saw the need for preparing young minds as global MBA’s many years before it became the norm and had innovative thoughts around how to go about it 15 years ago. Today we are taking inspiration from his innovative thinking and are setting up Fortune to be as one of the first business management schools for becoming a responsible contributor to the cause of Sustainability in education as well as in the community we live in.  RK always thought of holistic development along with financial value creation, this is exemplified from his efforts to setup factories to create jobs while simultaneously setting up primary schools for children and self-funded hospitals for primary care for women and children in neighboring villages. To him value creation was incomplete if it was not with job creation, empowerment and community development.  We are sure that he would be proud with what we are embarking upon here today, we remember him with those thoughts.