Each year, more focus is being funneled into both business transformation and sustainable business and entrepreneurship. With a requirement to do more, businesses are in need of valuable employee assets that will help the company reach not only sustainability requirements but also become a leading force in business transformation. Doctoral students from Business School Lausanne are making strides across industries as they serve as leaders of business transformation that goes beyond the innovations of one individual company.
We interviewed doctoral candidate Marie-Laure (MarLa) Burgener to gain insight into her current research, her past achievements, and how both are proving useful in today’s efforts toward sustainable business transformation. MarLa has been invited to hold a seat on the jury of a Swiss entrepreneurial contest held by Fondation Etrillard that aims to preserve the patrimony. With applications accepted until February 28, 2023, MarLa explains the context of the competition and how her achievements as a business founder and doctoral candidate have helped her gain participation in the contest. Continue reading to learn more.
MarLa’s Actions Toward the Betterment of Society with Sustainable Business Transformation
We asked MarLa to tell us about herself. The doctorate of business administration candidate explained a bit about her experience in starting her own company, GreenGoWeb, and how it has helped her gain her current position in both academics and business. “GreenGoWeb was founded in 2012 with the motivation to engage people towards more sustainable lifestyles,” she told us. “I could see it coming, you know, the whole energy crisis, water shortage issues, etc., and I thought, what if we could have a grassroots movement? What if we all contribute in a fun way before it is imposed on us? And what if we could take bottom-up actions and see the collective impact and measure the carbon footprint and impact? And figure out what it means in terms of savings. So, I just developed a mobile app to get employees to lower their carbon footprint. I applied game-like principles to sustainability and hence was a pioneer in “green gamification.”
MarLa’s app, which focuses on gamification to motivate people to change their behaviors towards more sustainable lifestyles, was created ten years ago. She explained that she was a bit ahead of the times, and the way for her to progress her entrepreneurship and professional success was through academics. Her current research at BSL aims at creating a better understanding of soft mobility amongst employees, as well as women’s mobility. “Is it that they cycle less than men?” she asks. “And what would it mean for companies if women were to cycle more, in terms of carbon footprint? We know that employees’ carbon footprint is important for companies in terms of overall sustainability strategies. So that’s what I’m trying to achieve – helping companies better promote soft mobility amongst women and understand the motivation and obstacles.”
Seeking Biodiversity Preservation with Fondation Etrillard’s Entrepreneurial Competition
MarLa told us about the Swiss and French foundation’s competition. “They support projects that preserve the patrimony, and they have used that word at large,” she explained. “From nature to architecture, they’re looking for projects that would preserve biodiversity and be sustainable and maybe also include some kind of architectural patrimony as part of it. So maybe if you were to take an old farmhouse and then create some garden with herbs, and then sell some herbal tea or preserve existing plants. Architectural submissions could relate to houses or buildings. Patrimony at large in the broad sense, and what they did is that they created this prize, so you can apply through February, and the foundation will select the best projects, and I will help judge them as part of the jury.”
MarLa’s research in sustainable business transformation at BSL, as well as her success already as an entrepreneur, has landed her this opportunity to participate in the contest as part of the jury. She explained that each of the jurors plays an important role in giving input on the contest submissions based on their area of expertise. “They asked me to be part of the jury because of my entrepreneurial background. And because of the fact that in being an entrepreneur, I’m quite pragmatic. And I have a know-how of sustainable business models. So innovation is the part I’ll be looking at based on my expertise.”
Benefits of the Competition in Facing Sustainability Challenges Head-On
MarLa went on about the entrepreneurial competition and its positive impact. “I think it provides a great opportunity because it’s very rare to have. It’s not often that you have a foundation that looks at sustainability from this unique perspective, including arts and nature and architecture. So I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for candidates to apply and then gain some of the Foundation’s support. In this case, they really look at preservation from a broader perspective. In my opinion, it’s a wonderful opportunity, especially given the fact that the provider is both in Switzerland and France.”
MarLa also commented on the challenge facing sustainable business transformation. She mentioned the need to shift business models from focusing on endless profit to focus on impact. “The way we judge success, based on economic profit, is no longer viable and is not sustainable in an environment that we’re living in right now that has boundaries. It’s not possible to promote endless profit. Not all businesses can be 100% sustainable, but they should really be trying to at least minimize their negative impact. I think it’s not so much the money value or the economic profit. We should be looking at the social aspect and what positive impact they are contributing to. In society, as a whole in general, it is much more interesting to create companies that create a community that promote a culture of inclusiveness and sustainability and preserve that,” she told us. The Foundation’s entrepreneurial competition is a great example of exposing these business models and ideas to gain support and traction.
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