Third Impact Career Day Highlights New Horizons in Sustainability
HEC’s third Impact Career Fair once again united students from all programs as leading companies highlighted potential career opportunities designed to impact society. This edition focused on sustainability and ways HEC graduates and firms can unite to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.
“This is an important day for you because today is devoted to building bridges between your talent and purpose and the businesses who have graciously accepted our invitation.” With these words, Professor Jeremy Ghez set the ball rolling for a day of online roundtables and networking between HEC Paris students and 19 companies keen to tap into the recognized potential of the school’s future graduates. “You will be helping to transform them, to define their new objectives in a world that is fast evolving.”
Underlining this point, Ghez’ colleague, Professor Jean-Michel Gauthier focused on the crucial role that banks will be playing in the energy transition to cleaner forms. “Banks are a critical element in this push forward,” said the Executive Director of HEC’s Energy & Finance Chair. “The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the shutdown of traditional forms of energy. In order to meet the objectives set out by the Paris Accords, however, this process must be increased by 60% in the next 20 years. This is why, more than ever, the clean energy sector is where jobs for the future can be found.”
Plastic-free Beer Bottles
Not surprisingly, then, much of the four debates which followed these introductory remarks centered on the links between the energy business, sustainable development and climate change. And sometimes, according to Fleur Poets, it can come down to tiny details. The director of Corporate affairs Europe for Anheuser-Busch InBev described her company’s partnership with startups and local entrepreneurs to remove all the plastic liners on Corona beer bottles in their drive to reduce their environmental footprint. “Last year, we removed all the plastic liners thanks to the ingenious input by local players. We are a major company with 200,000 employees but we couldn’t have done this alone. We’ve been working with local innovators for years. For example, our collaboration with French farmers has allowed us to create QR codes which show consumers the sources of the barley, grains, pesticides, etc. So we build an important value chain.”
For Christophe Poline, it is vital to shape energy solutions according to the challenges of each client. “We build specific alternatives according to each customer,” said the Sustainable Investment Director for Schneider Electric during the panel discussion entitled “Energy – at the heart of the solution to climate change”. Poline’s tech company has been named by Corporate Knights the world’s most sustainable corporation on the Global 100 index. This Canadian research and media company produces annual rankings based on corporate sustainability performance. Schneider Electric leaped 28 places in 2020 to top the ranking. “Energy efficacy is the biggest source of carbon reduction,” underlined Poline.
At the same time, sustainability also rhymes with social justice, according to François Rouvier. The long-time collaborator with HEC is Director of the Social Business MOBILIZE program at Renault carmakers. He insisted that poverty eradication must be a number one priority for businesses nowadays and called on the students to step up to this major challenge.
Despite its unprecedented format, the 2021 Impact Career Fair attracted up to 300 online participants. They shared their enthusiasm for a career allying decision-making and business that can make a difference in today’s world. “You should question and transform the leaders of today, it’s an HEC tradition,” underlined Jeremy Ghez. “Remember that we are here to help you accelerate change, through our Society & Organizations Institute, the Purposeful Leadership classes and our Master in Sustainability and Social Innovation, SASI, program. All these are designed to empower you. So my greatest hope is that you find the answers or formulate the questions which will help you enjoy this day.”