May 20, 2021 • 36M

#18 Sweden's best-kept secret: Rewiring CEOs for sustainability

Denise Young
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New Climate Capitalism is a podcast about change-makers working at the intersection of activism, finance and investment.
Episode details

Since the start of 2021 we’ve seen a race - like an arms race - among companies to announce net zero emissions targets.

Great, you might say. But do the leaders of those companies know how to achieve them?

Think about it. The market for training and education is going to blow up in coming years.

Who’s the reference in this field? Who’s been doing this for a long time, and basing it on the best science?

I turned to Lisen Schultz who runs an executive education programme at the Stockholm Resilience Centre which is, without a doubt, a gold standard in this hot space.

This is a CEO and Board-only programme. It draws on the legacy of the Centre’s pioneering work on the planetary boundaries and Lisen’s own links with Swedish business through the Pontus Schultz Foundation which she founded after her husband died tragically in a bicycle accident at the age of 40.

Teaching sustainability is not easy. It is just such a vast canvas of inter-connections and almost, what I’d call a kind of mental pain to let go of the perform and measure mindset we were given at school.

I’d like to really insist on why I think Lisen’s approach is unique.

It is extremely rare for such a programme to be housed in academia but explicitly steering away from top down science-splaining.

Lisen has a “meet you where you are” approach that is user-centric and designed to empower CEOs to lead change.

She’s publishing a new book, co-authored with climate journalist Erica Treijs, called: “The Course: 10 Lessons in Sustainable Business”. It’s in Swedish, so if you’re a publisher and see a market for this in English, which I certainly do, then you should get in touch with Lisen right away!

Enjoy the conversation.

We talked about:

  • 2:24 Bringing signals from ecosystems into decision-making

  • 3:15 Personal loss inspires a mission to connect business and sustainability

  • 8:02 Why sustainability is a team sport.

  • 9:06 Features of the learning journey

  • 12:27 How to design a programme that fits the reality of the CEO and challenges them

  • 13:28 Understanding the motivation for change: it’s always a mix of personal and professional

  • 22:16 Unlocking our intuitive knowledge about the importance of life and our connection to the web of life

  • 23:23 The importance for early movers to learn how to shift the bigger context to create a space for new business values to take root.

  • 24:28 Thoughts on the theory of change. Bringing your owners and board along for the ride. Lobbying for policy shifts to make sustainability the obvious choice.

  • 29:50 New book co-authored with climate journalist Erica Treijs coming this year in Swedish: “The Course: 10 Lessons for Sustainable Business”.