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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)


How do you create leadership capacity to manage over 86,000 employees during times of exceptional change? In 2014, the China's fifth-largest bank, the Bank of Communications, commissioned an executive education programme to demonstrate how executives could promote innovation, strategic management and leadership within the Bank.


The six-day course raised awareness of changes in the business operating context and identified how non-traditional issues such as climate change, demographic change or water availability present risks and opportunities to the Bank (directly and through its lending book). It examined some of the soft skills required to anticipate and adapt to these changes, drawing on expertise from academics, thought-leaders and business, to structure different types of conversations with clients.


At the end of the programme, participants collectively agreed that it was impossible to be effective leaders without a deep understanding of the changing business context. "The Cambridge course showed the impacts of changes within society and the environment on our business" explained the vice president of the Beijing Municipal Branch and Head of the Delegation, Mr Yin. "Importantly, it highlighted what our strategic approach needs to be and demonstrated how we can equip our clients with the ability to deal with this complexity and continue to grow".


This programme was designed specifically to meet the Bank's commercial ambition. CISL engaged representatives of the Bank's Human Resource function as well as 3E, a professional training centre based in Beijing to make sure the content was relevant and stretching. The days in Cambridge were designed to complement and dovetail with a 2 week programme focused on practical management issues.


The programme gave participants an insight into life in Cambridge. Days were structured to combine lectures from University academics, industry experts and policy-makers, as well as providing opportunities for discussion in small groups, written case studies and debate. It was delivered at one of the oldest Colleges, Trinity Hall, and participants also spent time at Kings College and Downing.


"My time in Cambridge was unforgettable" explained the Head of the Delegation, Mr Yin. "It taught us how to enhance our leadership at the Bank as well as helping us think differently about the future. I will always treasure this experience".


CISL’s tailored training helps organisations across multiple sectors frame a response to sustainability trends. to discuss how a customised course can help your organisation achieve commercial impact.