General Management & Strategy

Sustainable Business

A 1-year executive part-time program for engaged future leaders in business + beyond

Learning Situation General Management


Programme Description

The world is at a turning point. “Earth Overshoot Day” marks the day all resources which can be regenerated globally throughout each year are exhausted. In 2018 this day was August 1st. From this time on, humankind is living off the planet´s capital instead of the its interest. Endless growth in a world of finite resources is impossible in the long run and we are in dire demand for new solutions in the decades ahead. Business is considered to be part of the problem, yet business leaders often do not know how to embrace and actively manage change towards sustainability. New challenges require new competencies. New competences arise from assuming new perspectives and envisioning new solutions. New challenges also require new leadership skills. Subject expertise needs to be complemented with the ability to drive change and implement new solutions across organizational boundaries.

This first-of-a-kind comprehensive training program for future leaders in business sustainability was launched in 2011 by Prof. Thomas Dyllick, IWÖ-HSG, and Dr. Katrin Muff, then Business School Lausanne. Renowned faculty from the University of St. Gallen, along with recognized experts in interdisciplinary learning and training as well as thought-leaders from academia, government, nongovernmental organizations and business provide a unique setting for participants to acquire the new skills and competences required to lead the sustainability agenda in business and beyond.

The Diploma in Sustainable Business is an innovative executive education program designed for engaged future leaders in business and beyond.

This is a one-year, part-time executive program which includes not only subject knowledge in the field of sustainable business, but also leading change and project management experience as part of the course.

A 10-month team consulting project in the area of business sustainability is an integral part of the Diploma in Sustainable Business program. It is a unique opportunity for participants to engage in real-life projects with companies and work as advisors on strategic sustainability problems. Consulting projects include a wide range of relevant issues in product development, purchasing, supply chain, market analysis, labelling, employer branding, and communications. They are carried out by small, international and multifunctional teams of students (3-5 course participants) who work closely with the sponsoring company and are guided by the University of St. Gallen experienced faculty throughout the complete project cycle. The projects allow participants to increase their work experience prior to graduation, expand their professional network, and enhance their long-term career possibilities.

Participants who have successfully completed the program are awarded a Diploma in Sustainable Business by the University of St. Gallen.

Program Vision
To understand the challenges we as a global community face in the coming decades, to evaluate how business can contribute to resolve them, and how business leaders can shape their strategy and operations sustainably and responsibly.

Program Main Objective
To inspire and train change agents with a broad understanding in global sustainability and provide them with practical skills to develop and implement solutions for sustainability issues in organizations.

Target Audience

The Diploma in Sustainable Business is suitable for experienced professionals with a university degree (or equivalent) and at least 5 years of relevant work experience. Our participants have an affinity for personal development and self-reflection, and are eager to become change agents for a better world.

This program is designed for you if you want to:

  • develop your skills to work in the sustainability field as a specialist in business, public office or nongovernmental organizations
  • work in an existing or new business that embraces sustainability through innovative products or services; or independently as a consultant or entrepreneur
  • integrate sustainability into your existing area of responsibility or into main line functions such as product or project development, sourcing, operations, marketing or communications
  • become an expert in the field, as a sustainability officer, sustainability analyst, sustainability consultant, in sustainability integrated business development or project management


  • gaining exposure to organizations, thought leaders and projects in sustainability
  • connecting with other professionals in the developing sustainability field
  • re-orienting your career and prepare yourself for future, emerging jobs
  • making a relevant contribution through your professional engagement


Start Dates
26 days
Number of ECTS Credits
Level of Experience
Senior Manager
Functional Manager
Functional Specialist
High Potential
Programme Type
CHF 18'000.-
Special Discounts
Participants who bring a real-life project receive a project discount of CHF 6'000, which is deducted from their fee. A deferred payment plan during the length of the program is available on request.
University of St. Gallen/Zürich
Individual Modules Bookable
Flexible Entry
Programme Language


  • Help you identify and understand the global challenges in economic, environment and social spheres in order to determine the changes that are necessary in business
  • Develop leadership skills through personal development and reflective thinking
  • Provide an opportunity to apply what you learn in a 10-month company consulting project with fellow course participants

Application Criteria

The Diploma in Sustainable Business is ideal for participants and professionals looking to establish themselves as a specialist in the field of sustainability and its application to business. Our participants have an affinity for personal development and self-reflection, and are eager to become change agents for a better world. The program is a perfect opportunity to combine your passion for a sustainable future with your career aspirations.

Applicants are fluent in English and have an MBA or Master’s degree, with at least 5 years of pre- or post-master’s relevant work experience.

Course Structure

3 Learning Perspectives
Rather than looking at sustainability from the business perspective alone, the program approaches sustainability from three different perspectives:

  • Global challenges – understanding the sustainability challenges we, as a global community are facing today and in the coming decades
  • Strategic implications – evaluating how business can contribute to resolve them through innovative strategies
  • Business impact – translating sustainability strategies across business functions

3 Learning dimensions

  • Subject competence – Exposure to the best current knowledge in the global and business sustainability fields provides the foundation for understanding and managing the sustainability challenges.
  • Leading change skills – Implementation and change management skills are critical to bring sustainability to business. To ensure this, the “Leading Change” dimension forms an integral part of the program.
  • Project experience – Sustainability projects are conducted in a collaborative work space and form the backbone of the program. These projects are conducted in collaboration with companies, communities or NGOs. Learning across the program is applied to these projects step-by-step. They qualify participants as professionals in sustainable business.

Module Overview

  1.  The Big Picture of Sustainability Challenges
  2.  Leading Change I and Project Experience I: Introduction and framing
  3.  Best Practices in Sustainability Strategies
  4.  Sustainability Tools and Frameworks
  5.  Leading Change II and Project Review I: Developing & deepening
  6.  Responsible Leadership and Global Stakeholder Challenges
  7.  The Business Case for Sustainability
  8.  Making Supply Chains Sustainable
  9.  Measuring Sustainability Performance
  10.  Leading Change III and Project Review II: Understanding & applying
  11.  Sustainability Marketing and Communications
  12.  Social Entrepreneurship
  13.  Leading Change IV and Final Project Presentations: Integration and next steps

For detailed information about the content of the modules, faculty, and course dates please refer to our program brochure.


The Diploma in Sustainable Business program has built my skills, competencies and leadership to embrace the 3 bottom-line challenges business and society will critically face in the future: people, planet and profit. Together with the standout experience of the teachers; the diversity, background and energy of the participants, the important guidance of the consultants and the exceptional support of BSL & HSG staff, this program has inspired me and I feel ready to tackle and lead the change.
Karla Beer-Espinosa
MBA in Sustainable Business
I cannot begin to tell you how much this program has changed me. I feel privileged to have been part of it.
Ruth Brown
Diploma in Sustainable Business
HSG & BSL built a revolutionary learning environment challenging today and tomorrow's business leaders to build a sustainable world.
Veronique Sikora
Diploma in Sustainable Business
The Diploma in Sustainable Business is an inspiring program conducted through classes and projects which applies new business perspectives with a great sense of social and environmental consciousness that fit in the real needs of today's society. The professors with strong expertise in the field, the innovative techniques of knowledge transfer and the diverse classmates' background create an enrichting academic experience.
Gina Moyano
MBA in Sustainable Business
nolax AG sponsored a project to systematically integrate sustainability into the company’s business development processes. The multi-functional project team developed a tool which allows the company to address sustainability issues during all stages of our process to develop new start-ups, in close interaction with our internal experts. We consider this project to be of great value for nolax.
Adrian Leumann
Head of Mobility and Operations, nolax AG
The most important personal insight for me was to see that my background in international development adds significant value to a for-profit business. Having mainly worked in the public sector, I was never sure about how I could leverage my knowledge and experience in the business world. As a result of the project experience I have gained a lot of confidence as regards leveraging my own capacities in a business context and I feel well equipped to embark on my further journey in leading change.
Britta Margraf
Program Participant

Why HSG?

Executive education at the University of St.Gallen (HSG), one of Europe's leading business universities, provides you with an optimal preparation for the future. The University of St.Gallen is more than just an educational institution; it is a place of inspiration that stimulates you to think. You will acquire up-to-date knowledge that is of great practical relvance, and gain valuable insights. This will enable you to make an important contribution to social and economic progress and to your own personal development. "From insight to impact" is not just our message; it is a promise against which we can be measured. 

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