An interview with: Dr Flor Gerardou, Course Leader, MSc Sustainable Business (Online)
05 October 2022
From the small sugar cane town in Mexico where she was born, Dr Flor Gerardou saw the positive impact sustainable business practices could make from an early age. She has since dedicated her career to researching and teaching business ethics and sustainability. We chatted to her about the importance of sustainability in business today, and how our new master’s degree in sustainable business will develop the next generation of conscious business leaders.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and experience as a course leader for MSc Sustainable Business (Online) at Falmouth?
I was born in a small rural town in Mexico, and grew up helping in charity organisations and public institutions. I trained as an accountant at the University of Tamaulipas, and my academic career started here in the UK where I had the opportunity to come and study. I have a master’s degree in Public Service Policy and Management and a PhD in Management from King’s College London. After working across different institutions in England, I then moved into teaching and dedicated my career and research to studying business ethics and sustainability. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be course leader for such a timely and essential subject as Sustainable Business.
Why should people study sustainable business?
I believe there are two reasons why sustainable business is a vital subject. The first is grounded in professional development, and the other comes from personal values.
In the first instance, “sustainability” is no longer a buzzword in business. Changes in the business landscape - such as the recent climate emergency - brought sustainability to the top of the agenda. And with change comes opportunities: sustainability skills allow professionals to get ahead in an area of growing demand.
The second reason is rooted in personal ideology; commitment toward social and environmental causes and ambition to make a difference. I have heard people say, ‘if you work on what you love, you will not work a day of your life’, and so embedding sustainability within business presents an opportunity to make your work a place of personal inspiration and satisfaction.
What makes our MSc Sustainable Business (Online) course stand out from other courses?
This course is different from other sustainable business courses because you will be able to build your knowledge in a range of sustainable practices and strategies using your professional experience, projects, and ideas.
Our course offers an open pathway of choices and gives you the support to create a strong business foundation. In addition, it builds the skills you need to lead informed, transformative sustainable changes in existing companies supported by theory and practice.
What aspect of the course are you most excited about and why?
I believe the course will appeal to a broad range of backgrounds and I’m excited to work with professionals and students from different sectors and industries. These broad perspectives build an enriched community of learners. As an academic, I enjoy observing the development of my students’ ideas and professional projects, and this master’s degree allows students to do just that.
This course will help professionals take their social and environmental commitments to the next level by building the skills and confidence to put sustainable ideas on the table and engage others in working towards a sustainable future.
What are some of the practical skills students will develop on the course?
Sustainability encompasses complex social and environmental problems. One of the skills our students gain is the ability to think around and solve some of these complex problems; they will learn not only to analyse the problem or the opportunity critically, but be able to understand complex situations and ideas by looking at the interrelations of different parts of the problem. Our students will also master the management of systems; how to evaluate systems operations, condition changes and performance, and how to manage resources, projects and people.
The course has a real focus on conscious change management. Can you talk about what this means and why it is important?
Sustainable change management is the proactive action to transition towards a sustainable goal. Sustainable projects, ideas, enterprises, and any sustainable endeavours start with change management. Beginning with the right mindset, change management supports transformation across the organisation with employees, managers, shareholders, external stakeholders, customers, and suppliers. Sustainable professionals will inevitably deal with backlash from those who think sustainable changes are not significant, or not needed at all. So, sustainable professionals need the skills to transform mentalities.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing business professionals in today’s landscape, and how does this course help people to navigate these contemporary challenges?
The business world is competitive and constantly evolving, as a person’s life is full of bumps and uncertainties. Businesses need professionals who are engaged and motivated; they need business leaders capable of inspiring others to thrive, innovate and transform work. This course will help professionals take their social and environmental commitments to the next level by building the skills and confidence to put sustainable ideas on the table and engage others in working towards a sustainable future.
What does collaboration in business mean?
Business collaboration is about building a connection with a purpose. In the context of sustainable business, collaboration is paramount because sustainable issues are complex problems that need a broad set of skills and creative mindsets to solve them. Collaborations help to strengthen the skillset of an organisation, but more importantly, help to compensate for weaknesses. This way, successful collaborations will solve problems through the creation of innovative initiatives.
Finally, what kind of students are you looking for?
We want to create a cohort of students from different backgrounds and with different personal and professional experiences. We focus on building awareness of sustainable models and practices on this course, so I am looking for students driven by a desire to make a difference in society, business and the environment.