Business Leaders for a Sustainable Future – Cross Business School Alumni at UBS

The Esade Alumni Zurich Chapter co-organized with the alumni of IE, IMD, INSEAD and HSG, with the sponsorship and support of the Jacobs Foundation, an afternoon of interactive round tables and ‘networking’ of great intensity. Starting from the general theme of how people and companies can promote the correct execution of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the specific focus of the day was quality education, as defined by SDG number 4.

200 subject-matter experts and alumni from top global business schools gathered together for a Cross-Business School event at the UBS conference hall in Zurich, Switzerland with an overall theme of how the individuals and corporations can drive the right execution of the Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on quality education.

The event opened with a key note from Vanina Farber, IMD Professor and elea chair for Social Innovation giving an overview of the SDGs and the challenge of SDG no. 4, Quality Education: “It’s great to have the top business schools partner together to bring awareness to this SDG. Quality Education is complex. It is difficult to build the business case for the private sector involvement as its impact transcends in the future. It is challenging due to its materiality.”

This followed with the panel introduction and discussion moderated by Dr. Tillmann Lang, CEO and co-founder of Yova Impact Investing. Dr. Tillmann addressed key questions to the panel: Why should we care about education? What would happen if we don’t care? What is the payoff for investing in education?

For a better education

James Shepherd, Head Life and Health Business Management Reinsurance, Member of Reinsurance EC, Swiss Reinsurance explained that “education is the foundation of what functions well in our world, it has a multiplying effect across society. Partnering with programmes such as Aiducation, for us in SwissRe the notion of cost is way less than the benefits you get out of investing in education.”

For Matthias Meier, Entrepreneur & CEO Aiducation International Schweiz: “It’s really looking at how individuals can contribute in education not only through investing, but being part of the programme through coaching and mentoring.”

Lea Bachmann, Director Partnerships Foundations and Corporates at Save the Children Switzerland said thant “one in every six children is out of school in the world. Education is a human right, and has multilateral effects. Early childhood development has a 13 percent impact in  a country’s economic growth.”

Sabina Handschin, Senior Education Policy Advisor, Head of Education Unit at Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC explained that there is a USD 39 billion funding gap in primary education, 8.6 billion is provided by the government. “We need to find a way to bridge this gap. Education is a public good and should not be privatized.”

For Dr. Martina Gaus, Head of Philanthropy Services, UBS Optimus Foundation, current solutions are only putting a band aid to a systemic action and we need to look at direct delivery models and stop pouring money into leaking pipes.

To close, Fabio Segura, Co-CEO at Jacobs Foundation, presented his key note speech giving insights to the audience with research and programmes led by the foundation: “The conversations on education with the private sector ends when the bill comes. Who is going to pay for it? There are many challenges to funding education such as the transparency on resources, lack of knowledge and the long-term horizons on its return mismatches with the private sector. We need to think big and scale, get our people on the ground and capitalise and mobilize resources”, concluded.