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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

Leadership resources

Developing individuals who can lead with purpose and high impact in response to some of the most pressing leadership challenges and opportunities facing business and society


17-18 October 2022, delivered at Madingley Hall, Cambridge, with the option to join online

Duration, format and location

Two-day professional development residential seminar; Cambridge, UK


The course fee is £700 to £2,250, including accommodation and meals (see fees table). Lower fees are available for multiple delegates or Labs, not-for-profits, developing countries, self-funded individuals or those attending online.

How to apply

Submit your application or find out more about the selection criteria.

Find out more

Email  if you have any questions regarding our two-day Labs.



Sustainability Leadership Labs

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) Labs bring together professionals to test and challenge cutting-edge responses to global problems. 

The Sustainability Leadership Labs offer an opportunity to learn from and network with other senior practitioners from different industries and sectors. The immersive two-day programme includes elements of co-creation, group activity, journaling and reflection time, peer to peer coaching and pair work. Students leave the course having created a personal leadership plan that they can then put into practice.

Read more about the Sustainability Leadership Labs, and details about fees and applications.


“The two day residential laboratory at Madingley Hall provided me with the academic guidance, peer feedback, space and surroundings to reflect upon my own leadership purpose, and it’s alignment to that of my organisation. As a consequence of attending the Leadership Laboratory I have been selected to develop a Leadership Training Course for a Graduate Trainee Programme at my organisation”

Dr Alex Blanchard, Environmental Safety Leader, Syngenta Group

The challenge/opportunity

There is growing public expectation that businesses must step up and take responsibility for delivering positive outcomes for society and the environment. The commercial case for business responsibility and action is increasingly clear. This will, however, require the reframing of the fundamental purpose of business, and the transformation of whole organisations, sectors and value chains – in other words, the ‘rewiring’ of the economy.

Many traditional leadership frameworks and approaches focus on helping leaders succeed within current economic and social systems, rather than equipping leaders to shape those systems for the future. There is an urgent need for new approaches to leadership development that build the capacity of individuals, organisations and wider society to drive such transformation and have a global impact.


Rewiring leadership for high impact

This Lab invites participants to develop a shared vision for ambitious leadership to drive the change needed to reconcile commercial success with wider societal outcomes. In identifying the key leadership dilemmas faced in such transformation, the Lab explores the values, thinking and practice needed to achieve meaningful impact, grappling with key questions such as:

  • How should we define leadership ‘impact’ so that it reflects the most urgent challenges facing the economy, society and the environment?
  • What role does ‘purpose’ play at an individual and organisational level in achieving that impact? 
  • What knowledge and skills are needed to maximise leadership impact?
  • How can we build collective capacity for change beyond a single ‘hero’ leader?
  • How can leaders remain adaptive, innovative and resilient as they navigate complex dilemmas and challenges?


“The Leadership Lab at Cambridge has been a spectacular experience for me both personally and professionally. It allowed me to look beyond my work and get insights from academics and businesses including startups on their experience in the implementation of Sustainability.”

Vaishali Baid, Action Sustainability, Sustainable Procurement & Social Value Consultant

Learn from industry experts and thought leaders

The programme features speakers from a range of backgrounds including academics, experts in their fields and senior business leaders. Previous contributors for this Lab include:

  • Dame Jo da Silva, Director, Arup International Development
  • Zoë Arden, Fellow, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
  • Matt Bell, Corporate Affairs Leader
  • Elspeth Donovan, former Deputy Director, South Africa Office, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
  • Dr Louise Drake, Fellow, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
  • Patricia Dwyer, Founder & Director, The Purpose Business
  • Dr Matthew Grimes, Reader In Organisational Theory And Information Systems, Cambridge Judge Business School
  • Dr Victoria Hurth, Senior Associate, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
  • Lysa John, Secretary General, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  • Andreas Lambropoulos, Head of Strategic Initiatives, BNP Paribas
  • Will O’Connor, Commercial Director, Vision Express
  • Ragil Ratnam, Leader Advisor & Executive Coach, Pure Growth Asia
  • Dr Alexandra Stubbings, Managing Director, Talik & Company Ltd


Who should attend?

This Lab will convene a range of individuals who are committed to delivering high impact. We believe it will be beneficial for individuals in business who are seeking to enhance their impact in wider society, including those working in management and strategy roles, those working in sustainability/CSR roles looking to refine their leadership capabilities, and those with responsibility for developing new leadership capabilities within their organisation (eg L&D, HR). 


‘Transformational change is inevitable, but the outcome of that change is in our hands. And if there is one factor that will determine whether the transition will ultimately prove positive or negative, it is the leadership we create to drive and shape it." 

Lindsay Hooper, Executive Director, Education, CISL

Benefits of attending 

This two-day short course will be highly interactive with group discussions, practical exercises, personal reflection and insights from leadership scholars and practitioners. 

By participating, you will: 

  • Explore what ‘high impact’ leadership looks like in the light of pressing economic, social and environmental pressures and opportunities
  • Share insights into key dilemmas facing leaders in bringing about transformative change, and start identifying the essential leadership capabilities to navigate these dilemmas
  • Reflect together on purpose, values and worldviews, and what it looks like to align personal purpose with your professional and wider societal goals 
  • Experiment with strategies and tools for influencing and inspiring others 
  • Explore what it looks like to nurture collective capacity for change
  • Participate in building resilience and capacity to adapt
  • Engage with problem-based learning exercises with the goal of deepening understanding of and solutions to some of the key leadership challenges. These may include long terms vs short term thinking, misalignment between personal purpose and organisational purpose; and resistance to change or a clash in diverse values

Join the Lab to become part of a learning community exploring what purposeful and impactful leadership looks like in a dynamic global context.   

Apply here

CISL is monitoring the COVID-19 situation and responding accordingly to UK Government and University advice. Candidates joining Labs in 2022 will have the option to join in person or fully online.

Blog: First-class graduate education in a Covid-19 world


Labs logo


Download the flyer


Related Links

Previous Labs

Resource: A handbook for nature-related financial risks: key concepts and a framework for identification

Report: Rewiring leadership: The future we want, the leadership we need

Blog by Dame Polly Courtice: Reflections on stakeholder governance: catalysing sustainable value creation

Blog from Alasdair Marks, Corporate Adviser at Business in the Community about the Lab he attended on sustainable innovation

Blog from Simon Davis, Agriculture and Sustainability Development Manager, NSF International about his experience of a Lab

CISL Network


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



emma fromberg

Emma Fromberg Programme Manager