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Previous Labs and Suggested Future Topics

The Sustainability Leadership Labs are run four times a year, and are shaped primarily around two key themes: circular economy and leadership.

Read more about previous Labs we have run below.

LeadershipDeveloping Leadership to deliver transformational change

This two-day workshop explored how the Cambridge Impact Leadership Model can be used to help participants be more effective in their role. It was designed to help identify levers that can be pulled to drive change, structure conversations with colleagues and clients for better sustainability outcomes, while providing opportunities to engage with like-minded people.

Informed by our work with over 9,000 leaders internationally, the Cambridge Impact Leadership Model describes the leadership we need to deliver value for business, society and the environment.

Many traditional leadership frameworks focus on helping leaders succeed within current economic and social systems, rather than on transforming these systems. By not acknowledging challenges such as tackling short-termism, setting targets informed by science, and delivering against societal expectation, such frameworks do not equip leaders to tackle global issues and shape the future we want. 

Download our report Rewiring leadership: The future we want, the leadership we need.

Circular economyCircular Economy: Introductory concepts and making the business case

The two-day course explored the fundamental concepts relating to the circular economy and addressed the key elements of the business case, with a focus on the financial analysis. It also offered the opportunity to practise making the business case in an organisational context. Case studies were also presented by corporates leading in work on the circular economy.


  • Ian Ellison, Senior Manager – Sustainability, Jaguar Land Rover
  • Gary Punter, Head of Technology, AB Sugar
  • Professor Khaled Soufani, Director Executive MBA, Director Circular Economy Centre (CEC), Director Middle East Research Centre (MERC)
  • Dr Dai Morgan, Deputy Course Director, MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge
  • Gavin Warner, Director, Sustainable Business, Unilever 

Innovate 250Innovation for Resilience and Market Access

Constraints are sometimes viewed as an impediment to innovation; however they can also serve as catalysts for creative solutions by incentivising action in anticipation of future resource supply constraints or disruptions, or changing customer needs and expectations.

The Innovation Lab explored how today’s fast changing and global context is introducing both challenges and opportunities for businesses, and the crucial role that innovation plays in building resilience, accessing new markets and contributing to social development. 


  • Dr Melissa Barrett, Strategy Consultant, Accenture
  • Mike Barry, Director Plan A, Marks & Spencer
  • Munish Datta, Head of Plan A & Facilities Management, Marks & Spencer
  • Dr Bernhard Dusch, Professor, Stuttgart Media University for Applied Sciences
  • Dr Greg Lavery, Founder, Rype Office
  • Dax Lovegrove, Global Vice President Corporate Sustainability & Social Responsibility, Swarovski
  • Elisa Moscolin, Former Sustainability & Social Innovation Manager, Vodafone
  • Professor Jaideep Prabhu, Professor of Indian Business & Enterprise, Cambridge Judge Business School
  • Aleyn Smith-Gillespie, Associate Director, The Carbon Trust


Major projectsSustainability in Projects

The infrastructure that supports our modern lifestyles has been established, and continues to expand, via the construction of major projects. Such projects provide the roads, railways, factories, mines, power stations and buildings that deliver the transport, food, water, energy, raw materials, products, and constructions that we need. This short course offered participants a forum in which to explore ways of improving the tools and mechanisms needed to integrate sustainability into their projects.


  • Dr Alan Bond, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Management, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
  • Professor Peter Guthrie OBE, Professor of Engineering for Sustainable Development, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Don Lloyd, Global Managing Partner - Oil & Gas, ERM
  • Professor Angus Morrison-Saunders, Associate Professor, Environmental and Conservation Sciences, Murdoch University
  • Dr Jenny Pope, Director, Integral Sustainability
  • Elizabeth Wild, Social Responsibility Director, BP International 


Canary warfTransforming Business to Deliver Sustainable Value

Leading organisations recognise that sustainability is no longer a problem to be minimised but an opportunity for value creation. Collaborating with the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing, the course explored practical methods to transform businesses and enhance competitive advantage through the economic, social and environmental attributes of ‘sustainable value’.


  • Ian Bamford, Commercial Director, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge
  • Andy Doran, Senior Manager Sustainability & Recycling Development, Novelis
  • Professor Steve Evans, Director of Research, Institute for Manufacturing, Director of the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Industrial Sustainability
  • Richard Gillies, former Sustainability & Communications Director, Kingfisher plc
  • José Lopez, Former Executive Vice President of Operations, Nestlé
  • Hugo Spowers, Chief Engineer and Founder, Riversimple
  • Dr Doroteya Vladimirova, Senior Research Associate, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge


WheatEmbedding Natural Capital 

We are already ‘drawing down’ natural capital by consuming 50 per cent more per year than the earth can replenish – and the rate of depletion is accelerating. In financial terms, we are no longer living off the dividends of natural capital but off the capital itself. This creates significant unmanaged risks in supply chains that threaten the stability of business and future cash flows. By overstretching our natural resources to dangerous levels, businesses will soon have to face a stark choice: adapt or fail. This two-day professional development programme gave delegates the opportunity to understand how businesses can assess natural capital, create an effective strategy, develop resilience and tackle risks.


  • Dr Helen Crowley, Head of Sustainable Sourcing Innovation, Kering
  • Michael Beutler, Sustainable Operations Director, Kering
  • Ian Ellison, Sustainability Manager, Jaguar Land Rover
  • Dr Stephanie Hime, Director, Little Blue Research Ltd
  • Dr Jennifer Howard-Grenville, Diageo Reader in Management Studies, Cambridge Judge Business School
  • Alison Jones, Director of Operations, Natural Capital Coalition
  • Tony Juniper, Hon PhD, Fellow, CISL
  • Gordon Rogers, Manager of Sustainability and Strategy, Yorkshire Water
  • Angus Thirlwell, CEO, Hotel Chocolat

LightbulbSustainability Leadership 

Catalysing collaborative partnerships can be a powerful vehicle for stimulating change on a large scale and quickly. Traditional leadership development efforts typically focus on the attitudes, skills, and knowledge needed to be successful within an organisation. In a complex, global world it is more important than ever to expand traditional leadership frameworks and develop the capabilities to engage in value-creating, cross-stakeholder efforts. This two-day professional development programme focused on individual leadership capabilities, with a view to working better across organisational boundaries.


  • Libby Annat, Ethical Trade & Sustainability Controller, Primark/AB Foods, UK
  • Dr Stephen Hall, Principal, Avelerion Capital
  • John Revess, Head of Sustainability, ABB Asea Brown Boveri Ltd
  • Andreas Schaffer, Founder, Avelerion Capital

In search of impactIn Search of Impact: Measuring and Communicating Your Contribution to the SDGs 

Governments across the world agreed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), creating significant opportunities for companies to tap into new markets and contribute to society.  In order to take advantage of this, businesses must better understand, quantify and communicate its social and environmental impact. This Sustainability Leadership Lab will explore how companies and investors can identify the key impacts of their operations and investment products, quantify and communicate on their contribution to the SDGs to key stakeholders in a compelling way.


  • Paul Crewe, Head of Sustainability, Energy, Engineering & Environment, Sainsbury's
  • Gail Klintworth, Director (Business Transformation), Business and Sustainable Development Commission
  • Elisa Moscolin, Group CSR and Sustainability Manager, Santander
  • Will Oulton, Head of Responsible Investment, First State Investments
  • Professor Jaideep Prabhu, Professor of Marketing, Cambridge Judge Business School
  • Miguel Veiga-Pestana, Senior Vice-President, Corporate Communications & External Affairs, Reckitt Benckiser
  • Dominic Vergine, Director of Sustainable Development, ARM

Suggested Future Lab Topics

Future Labs topics may include the following, but are subject to change until confirmed:

  • Transforming Business to Deliver Value
  • Systems Thinking
  • Lifecycle Analysis
  • Sustainable Investment
  • Better Partnerships for Sustainability
  • Employee Buy-In and Company Visioning
  • Financing the Circular Economy
  • Modern Slavery.

If you would like to recommend a cutting-edge issue or response as the focus for a future Lab, please contact to discuss your ideas with us.

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Louise de Muscote

Louise de Muscote


Sustainable Innovation Lab

"This Lab built well on the previous Lab that I completed, and has really given me much food for thought and ideas for action."

Head of Sustainability, Pret A Manger

Business Model Innovation Lab

"A great two-day course that surpassed my expectations, using practical tools to challenge the way we think about our own business and challenge how bold we are being in our approach and role in tackling the sustainability issues in our own supply chains."

Agriculture and Sustainability Development Manager, NSF International

Embedding Natural Capital Lab

"Very informative, stimulating and an excellent networking opportunity."

Principal Geoscientist & Operations Geologist, Energy Geoscience

Embedding Natural Capital Lab & Sustainable Innovation Lab

“The Sustainability Leadership Labs enabled me to gain a global perspective on material issues that are impacting businesses today. I left the Labs with practical tools and knowledge that could be used immediately when I returned to the office… Every lab is unique but also consistent in providing a learning experience with other practitioners that prepares you for the volatile and uncertain environment we all operate in.”

Manager, Responsible Business, Old Mutual Emerging Markets 

Sustainability Leadership, Sustainable Innovation, & Business Model Innovation Labs

"The Leadership Labs at Cambridge have been a key way for me to gain direct insights from a broad range of academic and business thought leaders, on how organisations need to adapt in order to respond to the challenges and opportunities that sustainability poses. They also provided a forum to gain wide input from a range of other organisations how my company could respond to the opportunities and challenges. These insights have been crucial to allow me to more confidently influence internally, build business case and drive meaningful  change… and these Labs have offered an effective and flexible way to build and maintain my knowledge."

Fabrics Sustainability, W.L.Gore & Associates