Transcript of Corporate Sustainability
Masters Graduate Bjoern Wilhelms
Host: Monash university has a bold vision: to improve the human condition. And the Faculty of Arts has a range of environmentally focused Masters Programs. We’re off to meet a recent graduate, Bjoern Wilhelms, to discuss more about these programs.
Host: Can you tell us Bjoern, how you first became to be switched on to this idea of environmentalism and then how that could be applied to the world of work and in this case the automotive industry?
Bjoern: I guess environmental concerns have been at the front of my mind forever, since I was a child and back in Germany where I grew up, I used to vote for the Green party. But then coming to Australia and having a family, those sort of concerns took a bit of a back step and it was a different environment I was working in here and I guess when I attended the corporate sustainability elective at Monash as part of my MBA, that sort of struck a cord and I was reminded of what my values were all those years ago and I was quite excited to hear that Monash launched a double degree between the MBA and Corporate Sustainability Masters and I was the first student to enrol in that.
Host: And you mentioned before that the degree was quite flexible so you managed to undertake the study whilst working, is that correct?
Bjoern: That’s correct, I had basically two lectures a week, at night, but if you do an MBA or even a double degree, next to work it’s a full time commitment and it certainly takes up a lot of your time but Monash did offer as well a summer semester so block courses that helped a lot and basically juggling around the subjects and the requirements.
Host: Your current role, you have a role as Sustainability Manager, is that correct?
Bjoern: Yes, that’s correct.
Host: What’s your, sort of future aspirations, where would you like to go?
Bjoern: I guess the role of a Sustainability Manager is quite an interesting one that I feel has quite a lot of potential because to me it links the technical knowledge of the experts with the business requirements a board of directors or a managing director needs to think about so it’s quite strategic. So I’m quite happy in this role.
Host: How has your organisation taken a step forward in terms of environmental policy and management?
Bjoern: I guess the main thing is that part of my Monash degree is I did a project and as part of that project I analysed our business and identified the social and environmental areas that we as a business need to take care of. And I was able to analyse the business, identify indicators that the business should worry about and I was able to make recommendations to management and basically structure their environmental activities.
Host: So you’ve actually devised your own model?
Bjoern: Yes I did and basically there are two pathways of arriving at the impact of an organisation. The first one is looking at social and environmental aspects, their impact on the business which is kind of a risk assessment, looking at which areas, whether socially or environmentally, the business should be mindful of. And then there is another pathway of management requirements. For example, areas that your parent company will be interested in, so those two pathways then merge and get consolidated and the outcome is set off reporting indicators that first of all the business should measure and then record on and finally manage. With the education that I got from Monash I was able to develop this business analysis reporting framework and was able to devise activities and strategies that would have otherwise might not have happened.
Host: Bjoern Wilhelms, thanks very much for your time today.
Bjoern: No problem, any time. Thanks.