Insights from the first module of the Leadership Program 2022

Published: 9 May 2022
Author: Despina Anastasiou
Type: Insight

The 2022 WBCSD Leadership Program kicked off with 38 leaders from 26 participating companies across the world. Coming from different industries and backgrounds, it was clear that the group was united by a shared belief in sustainable development as a catalyst for innovation, disruption and value creation.

This year’s Module 1, convened at IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland, raised awareness on a range of topics, from sustainability strategies, innovation, leadership all the way to non-market strategies and WBCSD’s Vision 2050. We had a variety of speakers from the academic world, from business (Firmenich, Holcim, Nestlé, Roche, Yara) and WBCSD.

Offering a unique platform to reflect on transformative leadership, this first meeting of the Leadership Program enabled the group to work on personal self-awareness and learning styles, with a view to playing a bigger role in leading change. Here is the perspective from one of the participants, Despina Anastasiou.

Planes, trains and automobiles, we were all so mindful of our carbon footprint, yet all so grateful to have been selected and supported to gather in Lausanne, Switzerland for Module 1 of this enriching WBCSD Leadership Program. Our focus for the week was on Sustainable Development in Context. For many, this was our first serious travel since the pandemic. For all, it represented a valuable opportunity to meet a diverse group of professionals across many industries committed to driving positive impact. We arrived and we were ready!

I have a rich and varied tenure at my company Dow and have held many leadership roles over the years. However, the rapid shifts that have occurred in the areas of sustainability, decarbonization and more broadly, sustainable development, has meant that there is so much to learn. This is a fast changing landscape. Collaboration and leveraging best practices will be key for all.

Cue the WBCSD Education team, which assembled esteemed academics, experts and business leaders for us; leaders who challenged and inspired us on strategy, innovation, design thinking, digital, ethics… to name a few. All equally valuable. I particularly appreciated that the messages were personal, challenging us to reflect and internalize how we will individually and collectively choose to move forward and align our actions to our purpose.

This was an intense and invigorating week. Group discussions took place with refreshing candor and well beyond the classroom; trust was built and the shared purpose that united us (albeit via our company’s membership) has strengthened us. We are a formidable force committed to using our respective spheres of influence for greater good. I am proud to be amongst this esteemed group.

I cannot wait to immerse myself in the project work and the future Modules.

Despina Anastasiou, Ph.D.
Global Business Development Director – Corporate
Dow Europe GmbH, Switzerland

The WBCSD Leadership Program welcomes the following member companies in its 2022 cohort: ABB, Accenture, Acciona, Arcadis, Arçelik, Ayala, Bayer, BMW Group, Chevron, Dow, Enel, EY, Firmenich, Good Year, Hitachi, Holcim, IFF, KPMG, Michelin, PETRONAS, PWC, Rabobank, Shell, Solvay, Sonae, and Yara. Participants will navigate complex, interdisciplinary topics that constitute the systems transformations needed for a net-zero, nature-positive and equitable future. To learn more about the Leadership Program, please click here or contact Suzanne Feinmann (

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