At HEC Paris, mvlti svnt vocati, pavci vero electi!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The "Positive Power of Business"

Now that we are 'real' strategy consultants, it was appropriate that we were taught the business models of Sustainable Development (SD) by speakers from Areva, Unilever, UNESCO, etc. over two days of the HEC Net Impact SD Conference. As HEC students, we get two credit points for attending but it wasn't just for the credits that I attended. Personally, I have always liked addressing the three legs namely, economic, social and environmental, that keep the SD table standing. And, my classmates will laugh at me for repeating this again and again but I do feel that an oil company needs to go beyond other companies in terms of SD activities for the public to accept that the company is genuinely interested in SD and that it is not just developing a smoke screen to hide its sins! If you have been reading my blogs, you will remember that I flew from Chicago to Anchorage during my internship. On the flight, the lady sat next to me asked if I was going to Anchorage to fix all the leakages in the pipelines. I wasn't, but the questioned troubled me because I did not have a good answer. Just to sleep better, I made sure I spoke to one of the guys involved in fixing the leaks to find out more. My point here is that the question pricked my conscience and I think the idea of SD should be about wondering if what our companies are involved in are the kind of things we are happy to proudly tell our friends and families and, if not, what can be done to change things. I really enjoyed the conference especially the sessions on carbon trading, nuclear energy, the case-cracking session on AREVA's supply chain, agrofuels, and the leadership forum on Public Private Partnership. So, when at the end of the conference, the moderator called upon volunteers to briefly describe their experiences of the conference, I was happy to oblige! After all, I am not one to shy away from extempore public speaking!!! :-)

As for the first weekend since school re-opened, we have done nothing much more than all-day DIY for two days! While my wife was busy painting the kitchen, I was actively wallpapering one of the bedrooms. And, boy, do they look good now that they are done? Bien sur! The kitchen is ready and we have moved into the bedroom as it is dust-free compared to the other one. I have a day off every now and then during the week because of the way my courses are organised so I am going to spend as much time as possible renovating the apartment when I am done with my homework. Wallpapering is a really good test of patience and endurance. Imagine you have just stuck the top half of the wallpaper and climbed down the chair to fix the bottom half when, suddenly, the top half rolls down because you didn't put enough glue! Damn! Start all over again...

I have my first lecture on 'Thinking Strategically' this morning and the first session on 'Business Plan: Design & Funding' in the afternoon so I am looking forward to these. On a slightly different note, the students from the September 2007 intake are here and we have had a few interactive sessions to meet and greet them. Unfortunately, I have been so busy that I have not met most of them but there are a few parties coming up and I am hoping to catch up with them then. I suspect they have Negosim this week so they should be fairly busy too - it would be interesting to hear stories of personality clashes and blood drawings during the game, which can be quite stressful and demanding, but definitely fun!

PS: This was meant for publication yesterday.



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