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To support the eco-responsible transition of the hotel industry, King's Business School in London and the Energy & Environment Alliance (EEA) have set up a brand-new ESG course to train managers in sustainability issues.


To support the eco-responsible transition of the hotel industry, King's Business School in London and the Energy & Environment Alliance (EEA) have set up a brand-new ESG course to train managers in sustainability issues.

Category: Europe - United Kingdom - Industry economy - Careers - Recruitment / Job / Training Associations and Unions - Interviews
Interview made by Christopher Buet on 2023-10-25

Rainwater harvesting, geothermal energy to heat the hotel, use of ecological cleaning products, sourcing of raw materials, and so on. Hotels are stepping up their initiatives to meet the new imperatives of sustainability and eco-responsibility. It's an underlying trend that can be explained by an industry in full ecological transition. This is no longer a time for excess, but for controlling our impact on our natural and social ecosystems, managing finite resources and being responsible.

In this demanding context, hoteliers have no choice but to adapt and invent a new way of thinking about hospitality. It's a challenge made all the more complicated by the fact that they often lack the necessary knowledge to tackle it, due to a lack of prior training. To remedy this shortcoming and support the global effort, King's Business School London and the Energy & Environment Alliance (EEA) have decided to launch a new certificate, ESG & Sustainability. Its aim is simple: to equip hotel CEOs, CFOs, COOs and CIOs, boards of directors, non-executive and executive directors with the ideas and knowledge they need to drive change in a commercially sustainable and scientifically sound way.

Ufi Ibrahim, CEO of the Energy & Environment Alliance (EEA), and Marc Lepere, researcher and director of the ESG & Sustainability programme at King's Business School, have agreed to take a closer look at this ambitious and necessary training programme for the Journal des Palaces.

Journal des Palaces: This autumn you launched a new training course for managers in partnership with King's Business School London. Why did you decide to create this course? Have you received any requests or interest from hoteliers?

Ufi Ibrahim et Marc Lepere: Due to the shift in international financial regulation with ESG regulations soon to be compulsory, hotel owners, investors, financiers, and managers will all be responsible in one way or another for maintaining ESG standards. The launch of the programme coincides with a shift in international financial regulation to make ESG reporting mandatory. The impact has been compared to the introduction of global financial reporting standards after the Wall Street Crash in 1929. The new course will help them guide them through this new regulation landscape.

How did you design the programme for this course?

The Energy & Environment Alliance (EEA) and the King’s College London Executive Education Programme have been designed by world-leading academics, researchers, global industry leaders and hospitality investors.

Together, we ran six workshops to be representative of owners, brands and operators. The EEA’s global Summit in London in March served as a global workshop. To understand regional nuances, five additional workshops were conducted online: two European workshops and one in each of Asia-Pacific (APAC), North America (NA), and Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The workshops were in the format of structured and free discussions. Each workshop was recorded, transcribed, and analysed to tailor the programme design. All of this helped us to fully understand the priorities, knowledge and skills gaps, and concerns that industry leaders share.

With these insights, we developed the course knowing it works for leaders in the industry and deals with the key points they need to learn.

The Programme has been designed to equip the hospitality industry’s C-suite, boards, non-executive and executive directors, with actionable insights and knowledge to drive change in a commercially sustainable and scientifically robust way.

Can you tell us what will be taught?

The course will cover:
  • ESG 2.0 - an overview of the science and what we mean by ESG. How ESG has evolved and is evolving, and what this means for the business.
  • The Spirit of Regulation and The Role of Law – understand the latest regulations and reporting requirements. Explore the role of law and look into the future of policy and expected developments.
  • Green Finance – a crucial module looking at physical and transition risk, green finance and greeniums. Participants can fully immerse themselves in the new concepts of value and learn how to avoid stranded assets. Understand best practice and, crucially, avoid the potential pitfalls lurking in non-financial accounting and integrated reporting.
  • Marketing Sustainability – Participants can explore the corporate and consumer views of sustainability and differences between luxury and budget segments in approaches and perceptions. They will interrogate new models of consumption relevant to hospitality and delve into the warnings around greenwashing. They will explore how sophisticated methods of communication can drive behavioural change in consumers and stakeholders.
  • Leading Sustainable Transformation –theories of change and cross-functional decision-making to roadmap are deployed. How can participants lead and transform their organisation through a sustainable transition.
  • Individual project – Participants are supported to work on their own change initiative for their business using tools, support and insights gathered from the course, giving them a tangible takeaway to implement in their organisation and a process on which they can model future plans.

Why did you team up with the King’s Business School in London?

From the outset, we developed a strong partnership between EEA and King’s Business School (KBS). EEA’s expert team shared their insights to outline the challenges and needs in the industry, and King’s married this with world-leading research and academic expertise. Moreover, the EEA was impressed with Marc’s knowledge and the proactive/responsive/constructive/collaborative approach of the King’s team.

What are your aims with this course? What do you want to teach the participants?

Both the EEA and King’s Business School have a shared mission to equip hospitality leaders so that they can lead their organisations to a more sustainable future.
After completion of the programme participants will be able to:
  • Pilot their business through the complex and rapidly changing landscape of ESG regulation
  • Design and deploy effective ESG strategies
  • Energise and inspire senior executives to lead ESG transformation across the business
  • Mitigate risk and unlock ESG opportunities to drive greater value in the short and long term
  • Future-proof investments
  • Better access green finance
  • Gain state of the art knowledge on climate risk, climate finance and non-financial accounting
  • Understand the science driving the climate change agenda

Why do you think training managers in sustainability and eco-responsibility is a major issue?

All businesses must engage in changes and new regulations to both mitigate risk and, more importantly, create value in their businesses by adopting sustainable business practices. Ultimately, we want to forge a network of engaged and proactive industry leaders who have the knowledge, connections, and ambition to drive this transformation across the lodging and hospitality sector.

Do you hope to persuade other schools to adopt such a course and spread it beyond England?

For all of us, this course is just the first part of a partnership which, we hope, will expand into further education, research collaboration and industry insights that will help the sector. We’re already working on a version of the course for hotel and operations managers, which will bring the learning into their roles. Through our existing partnership, we are focused on maintaining the quality and accessibility of our virtual executive programme to a global audience.

About the author

A journalist with many skills and an ever curious traveller, Christopher has a great attraction for carefully refined hotels, where characterful gastronomy, impeccable service and sincere elegance go hand in hand. A discreet and gourmet pen at the service of a certain idea of luxury.

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