Delve: How the Era of Energy Transition Is Changing Business Leadership

Published: 8 June 2023

The global transition to net-zero requires significant changes in the way businesses operate and grow. How can business leaders successfully manage this energy transition? What are its opportunities and risks for businesses? And what role do corporate boards and investors play in overseeing and encouraging the transition?

In the current era of energy transition, these difficult and critical questions must be tackled at the highest levels to redefine and implement effective business leadership for a net-zero world. At a recent Desautels Faculty of Management Integrated Management Symposium that melded business leadership with academic research, several strategies and opportunities for change proved that major institutions play a vital role in both setting and meeting stronger targets for sustainability.

“Is the 1.5-degree target a dream or is that something that we can realistically achieve?” asks symposium co-moderator and Desautels Associate Professor of Finance Sebastien Betermier.

“We know that what gets measured gets managed, and we also know that setting targets aligned with climate science is both right and necessary,” says panelist Janet Drysdale, Senior Vice-President & Chief Stakeholder Relations Officer at Canadian National Railway. “That is the beginning point: you need to first understand what you need to do, and you need to tell people what needs to be done… And then we must go about the business of making it happen.”

Co-moderator Suzanne Rancourt, Corporate Director, iA Groupe financier, WSP, Institute of Corporate Directors (Québec chapter) describes three current approaches to reducing emissions: behavioural changes, available technologies on the market, and technologies under development.

“It is easy for us to invest in different firms and to decarbonize our portfolio, but we will not resolve the issue this way, and we will not have decarbonized the planet… What do we need to do is motivate not only stakeholders but societies, companies, and governments to be aligned,” says panelist Bertrand Millot, Head of Sustainability, Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec (CDPQ)

Watch the Delve symposium video and read the article for further insights:

Delve - Thought leadership from McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management

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Founded in 2019, Delve is the official thought leadership publication of McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management. Under the direction of Professor Saku Mantere, inaugural Editor-in-Chief, Delve features the latest in management thinking that stretches perspectives, sparks new ideas, and brings clarity to decision-makers at all levels and across sectors.

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