Educating tomorrow’s leaders in the energy sector: the academic perspective (Part 1)

The first in a four-part focus on what leading international academics and in-the-field practitioners foresee as crucial developments in the energy sector and how higher education should tailor studies to meet the challenge
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The first in a four-part focus on what leading international academics and in-the-field practitioners foresee as crucial developments in the energy sector and how higher education should tailor studies to meet the challenge

Part 1: From three of the member schools of the Council on Business & Society

ESSEC BUSINESS SCHOOL (France and Asia-Pacific)


Christian Koenig, Executive Director, Council on Business & Society; Associate Professor, Management Department, and Dean, BBA Program, ESSEC Business School  

“In addition to technology and engineering, today’s energy leaders need to be versed in geopolitics or international relations. Today you can’t think about the future of energy without thinking about the role of economic competition between countries. You can’t understand the price of oil and gas, for instance, without understanding the rivalry between the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, in terms of their power over the price of natural resources. We need to educate people to think not only about price, markets, and regulations but also about the meta-political aspects. It’s very important.”

Prof Charles Cho

Charles Cho, Professor of Social and Environmental Accounting, and Director, Center of Excellence for Management & Society, ESSEC Business School

“We cannot continue to teach business students the mainstream, financial market-centered paradigm that has largely failed us as members of society. An effective leader in a fast-moving and sensitive industry such as energy needs to (1) be prepared to challenge the logic of that very industry; (2) embrace paradoxes and radical but necessary changes; (3) genuinely welcome a diversity of ideas and paradigms by accepting multiple ways of seeing, interpreting, and knowing; and (4) foster an environment that inspires people to self-organize, collaborate, and seek a higher purpose. Learning by doing seems to be the way to go these days. Energy industry-focused real-life case studies are a good start. But most importantly, there must be some mandatory core courses tightly focused on business ethics and corporate social responsibility and/or sustainability embedded in all post-graduate business-oriented programmes. We need to incorporate courses that make students feel uncomfortable, think outside the box, and encourage radical changes.”

FGV/EAESP (Brazil)


Luiz Artur Ledur Brito, Dean, FGV/EAESP

“The energy industry needs leaders who are able to combine strong analytical skills, business acumen, and innovative business thinking with a broad understanding of the connection between business and society. The current debate about the role and impact of business schools manifests itself perfectly in the energy industry. MBA programs should include and combine courses and experiences with aspects that are not strictly business. Maybe we should question whether the name MBA—Master in Business Administration—is truly appropriate today. Business is only one element interacting with others related to individuals and society, like ethics, individual and corporate social responsibility, societal impact, and environmental change.”


Goret Pereira Paulo, Associated Researcher, FGV Energy

“You don’t have to specialize. You do need to be able to assemble many different types of capabilities and get them to work as a team. People who want to become leaders in the energy industry need a variety of talents. It’s not necessary to specialize in one area. Nowadays, with energy projects, we have to be mindful of the environment, financial issues, and local regulation: you don’t need to be an engineer, economist, lawyer, or project developer. But you do need to know that you need these specialties on your team, and you need to be able to put them together and get them to work as a team.”



Xiongwen Lu, Dean and Professor, School of Management Fudan University 

“Leaders in the energy sector need global vision, because the development of the energy industry can’t be happen in one country or one area independently. Growth should rely on interdependence and collaboration across countries.

Leaders in the energy industry will require the following skills and attitudes:

  • A deep understanding of scientific and technological factors, as well as the nature of the energy industry, which will change the structure of demand and supply.
  • Sufficient financial knowledge. Leaders should know how to use capital markets to promote the spread of energy technology and the industrial development of new energy sources.
  • Strong leadership, as well as the capacity for integrating different resources. Leaders should be willing to face challenges as well as facilitate changes and innovation.
  • A great sense of social responsibility and pathos for human beings. Leaders should not target short-term development but should view the welfare of younger generations and the human race as their responsibility.”

Statements collated by the representatives of Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Edited by Tom Gamble

LINKS to further sites and resources

The forthcoming academic perspective will feature insights from Keio Business School (Japan), University of Mannheim, Business School (Germany), and Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth (USA)

The Council on Business & Society Global Alliance is an ongoing international dialogue between six of the world’s leading business schools and an organiser of Forums focusing on issues at the crossroads of business and society – The Council Community helps bring together business leaders, academics, students and journalists from around the world. #CouncilonBusinessandSociety

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