In the past couple of years, a growing number of corporates – with Unilever in the vanguard – have recognised that they need new profiles from their talent pipelines to lead sustainable business transformation in a rapidly changing global context. However, they have significant challenges in finding, recruiting and developing the people that they seek.
The companies also recognise that, just as they cannot resolve sustainability challenges in isolation, they have a vested interest in consolidating and communicating their long-term talent requirements with a more unified voice, so that there is a strategic opportunity for business education providers to engage and respond through innovation in their own curricula and programmes.
In this respect, it goes to the very heart of ABIS’ founding mission – and the shared interests of our partners and members – to facilitate a new model of engagement between these companies and our wider academic network. Our ultimate objective is to inspire a deeper working relationship between the business and academic worlds, so that all companies benefit over time from graduate talent pools aligned with the global sustainability challenges we face.
First ABIS Global Talent Forum
On 3 December 2015, the inaugural ABIS Global Talent Forum for Sustainable Business took place at Unilever’s Four Acres Leadership Development Centre, hosted by Doug Baillie, Chief HR Officer at Unilever and Chair of the ABIS Strategic Advisory Board.
The event brought together senior HRM, talent and leadership development executives from a range of global industry sectors. More specifically, it opened new dialogues and reflection about the requisite talent and leadership pro - files to lead sustainable business transformation in a rapidly changing global context.
Doug Baillie opened the Forum by sharing Unilever’s perspectives on the growing volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) in the global business context, and four major trends which have serious implications for the company’s markets, business model, strategy, and the talent required to deliver a sustainable long-term future.
Overall, broad agreement was reached on the need for greater clarity and consistency of message on the values, mindsets and qualities required of tomorrow's leaders – recognising that this has not been done effectively to date, either within companies or at the interface with business schools and universities.
2nd ABIS Global Talent Forum
The 2ndForum was hosted Gary Kildare, VP HR of Europe of IBM, at their London headquarters on South Bank on 19 September 2016. At the meeting, participants set out to define the key internal drivers for sustainable business leadership as well as to define the future skills, knowledge, traits and styles, which were based on the Individual SD Leadership Qualities developed by CISL.
On September 19, the 2ndABIS Global Talent Forum for Sustainable Business took place at IBM’s UK Headquarters on South Bank in London, hosted by Gary Kildare, Vice President Human Resources (Europe) and Global Technology Services.
Polly Courtice, Director of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, opened the Forum’s main programme. Her presentation focused on “Sustainable Business Leadership Qualities”, and the future direction of travel given by COP21 and the UN SDGs to achieve climate solutions and social / environmental justice. It also explained the development process and research behind the CISL Leadership Qualities blueprint (2013), and subsequent insights derived from its application in CISL work.
Under the expert facilitation of Dr. Mark Wade, former Sustainability Learning head at Shell, the next block of the programme focused on a series of working group dialogues around the internal company drivers for sustainable leadership. These were followed by a “deep dive” into the substance of the CISL LQ model to assess the future materiality of its Skills, Knowledge, Traits and Styles, and their primary long-term importance to the business. The programme concluded with a more reflective group discussion of main “take-away” insights with regard to global HR & Leadership Development approaches, and the wider implications for ABIS’ change agenda in business education.