4 best MBA programmes that’ll help you do good for people and the planet
These 4 business scchools help you become a responsible leader working for businesses that strive to make a positive impact

In 2023, we have a great opportunity to shape the relationship between business and society. Both employees and companies are now working not only for profit but to make a positive impact in society. Gen Zers want to contribute to solving the climate crisis and creating more opportunities for people of diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, a McKinsey report found. About four in five millennials and Gen Zers say they want businesses to do more “to enable consumers to make more sustainable purchasing decisions, whether it’s making products more affordable, greening their supply chains, or using more sustainable packaging,” another Deloitte report says.

While these are no small tasks, some business schools are up for it. These are spaces where faculty members understand the importance and appreciate the difficulty of the job ahead. Their curricula explore the many unexpected twists and turns of recent interactions — and the many to come — between business and society. They understand that businesses can seize opportunities for expansion into new product lines and markets while doing good for people and the planet.

If you want to become a responsible leader working for businesses that strive to make a positive impact, consider the four business schools below:

ESMT Berlin (European School of Management and Technology)

At ESMT Berlin, they have a mission to develop entrepreneurial leaders who think globally and act responsibly. Their MBA programmes are driven by choice, with a personalised curriculum that has a specialised focus on innovation, technology management, leadership, and analytics within the global market. You have control over the types of skills, experiences and insights that you’d like to gain from these programmes. Fusing academic theory and practical application, your ESMT Berlin programme will take you beyond the classroom as you explore foundational modules, specialisation tracks, electives and summer learning experiences.

The Full-Time MBA is a good example of an ESMT Berlin programme that transforms students into future business leaders who can contribute positively to the world.

All full-time MBA students get to take part in the Social Impact initiatives. The Social Impact Project is a five-week project where you act as consultants for organisations pursuing social impact goals. This includes non-profits, CSR departments, social ventures, and for-profit social impact projects.

This way, you get to apply management theory to a real problem, including fieldwork, research, or project management, and if possible, during the project timeline, help to implement the solutions. After graduating, you can opt for the Responsible Leaders Fellowship, where you’ll spend six months abroad, contributing pro bono service to organisations fostering community value and social change.

An ESMT degree is a global experience. When you’re not taking your new skills abroad, you’re surrounded by peers of many nationalities and from industries such as technology, healthcare, e-commerce, finance, manufacturing, and consulting. Click here to learn more about ESMT Berlin.

ESSEC Business School

While Cergy, France, certainly boasts its share of popular attractions, its uniqueness extends beyond just that. Despite its modest size, the city proudly hosts one of the world’s premier business schools: the ESSEC Business School. Catering to students across various educational tiers, from undergraduates to postgraduates and even doctoral candidates, this institution is dedicated to nurturing the next generation of business leaders who are ready to take on careers that will benefit society. 

Its Global MBA programme holds a commendable global ranking at #93. This programme stands out for its emphasis on essential business concepts and insights into international markets. It transcends theoretical learning, as students actively partake in real-world projects and engage with companies through immersive experiences and site visits. While the core of the programme takes place at the Cergy campus, students get to travel to Singapore for five weeks or spend a week in an emerging market or various other countries. 

Delivered over 12 months, this intensive programme equips students with comprehensive knowledge and practical skills to elevate their careers. This is thanks to its varied and challenging content that covers Luxury Brand Management, and Strategy and Digital Leadership, giving students a macro view of core business functions coupled with industry-specific skills and knowledge to help them successfully switch careers to industries such as consulting, tech, or luxury.

Learn more about its exceptional MBA programme here.

Warwick Business School

It’s widely known that graduates from Warwick Business School go on to seize success as empowered sustainable business leaders. “Studying a Global Online MBA at WBS has helped me deeply understand not only the importance of taking the time to learn about social and environmental sustainability (SES), but my studies have also helped me to think of creative solutions to incorporate SES strategies into business and education that I am able to implement in my current role and in the future,” says Global Online MBA student Julia Gallois. 

“I am grateful that the Global Online MBA at WBS has acknowledged the critical importance of SES literacy for future business success and supports the opportunity for students to apply this to their respective fields.”

Alongside gaining ethical and moral responsibility to minimise our negative impact on society and the environment, Warwick students find engagement in MSc and MBA group and individual projects. Beyond that, they have the opportunity to participate in one of the LeadershipPlus Projects, where they’ll have the chance to join forces with an external corporate entity, SME, or NGO partner. 

Every postgraduate student gains access to a valuable pool of human capital resources, spanning administrative staff, faculty, peers, and industry collaborators. You have the opportunity to learn from prominent figures in the Change Maker Speaker Series, which has featured esteemed personalities such as Barclays Ireland CEO Kevin Wall and NASA Chief Technologist Dr. Douglas Terrier.

Here is a school that takes pride in nurturing change-makers through personal growth and pioneering thought leadership within an inspiring and diverse applied learning setting. This spirit extends to its virtual offerings; the Warwick Business School’s MBA is ranked the top distance learning MBA in the Financial Times Online MBA Ranking 2020. 

Darden School of Business – University of Virginia

Preparing responsible leaders to lead the global business landscape through social transformation — that’s what the Darden School of Business aims to do. Established in 1955, it opened as the graduate business school of the Thomas Jefferson-founded University of Virginia and has since become one of the top institutions in the nation to offer a career-focused postgraduate education for ambitious individuals.

Darden’s Full-Time MBA programme spans 21 months and offers students unparalleled opportunities to engage with over 80 leading and pioneering thought leaders in the business world. The programme begins with a foundational curriculum, providing a rigorous education through case-based learning during the first year. The second year makes room for personalised interests alongside real-world exposure, where students work on consulting projects, live-action cases and global immersions. 

Darden’s faculty comprises world-renowned intellectuals who not only educate students but also drive business-oriented research forward. Their endeavours are supported by various research centres and initiatives aimed at advancing industry knowledge, enhancing student learning journeys, and facilitating dialogues between academic experts and industry leaders to foster business growth.

Subsequently, a community of resilient business leaders and accomplished executives emerges, equipped with the determination and tenacity to excel within a competitive landscape. They take their first steps at Darden — and graduate with the expertise to change the world.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International