Educating tomorrow’s leaders in the energy sector: the academic perspective (Part 3)

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The third 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

Contributions from Keio Business School, Mannheim University, Business school, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, member schools of the Council on Business & Society


obayashiAtsuomi Obayashi, Professor, Keio Business School

“A combination of business ethics and economics would support a sense of social responsibility. The energy industry has a long supply chain, often of global scale, and energy is used for a diversity of demands. An industry leader should have a long term, wide range view. Events and conditions at opposite sides of the earth, and forecasts of developments decades from now—all these can affect investments in energy.

Leaders should have a sense of responsibility to society, especially towards maintaining a stable energy supply as part of society’s infrastructure. International experience, including exchange programs between business schools, will help develop a long-term and wide-range view in future energy leaders. Despite the fact that the energy industry is affected by global events, people’s careers are prone to be local. International experience will provide glimpses of business models different from those one is familiar with. Economic contract theory will clarify what kind of duties are easily contactable and what kind are not. We can use contracts and regulations if they are effective. Where they are not effective, business ethics are important. Leaders must have the ability to evaluate corporate ethical actions.”

iwamotoTakashi Iwamoto, Project Professor, Keio Business School

“We need people who understand all three fields: technology, policy, and business. Energy is related not just to business but also to policy. MBA programs teach mostly business, but they should include classes on policy and technology as well. Schools should provide events during which students can communicate with professionals in other fields.”


JSchneiderDr Jürgen M. Schneiderformer Dean, University of Mannheim, Business School

“In the long term, leaders in the energy industry must be able—and enabled—to face change and cope with it. The radical changes we see today can undermine existing business models:

  • Electricity generation will have to be covered more and more from renewable sources,
  • Energy consumption must be drastically reduced, and energy efficiency, smart grids, and storage capacities must be developed—with some urgency.
  • Conventional “cash cows” run out earlier, and new product cycles will have to be started with greater speed.

In order to prepare students for work in this field, business schools should favor industrial case studies. Note, for example, that the share price of the largest German electricity provider has plunged by 80 percent within the last five years due to radical changes in its market environment. Counteractions to deal with this are underway, but uncertainty remains. A case study could address the following: Should recent decisions and actions have been taken earlier? Was their execution consequential and quick enough? Are free-market forces sufficient to manage change? To what degree are government actions and regulations required?”


Matthew SlaughterMatthew J. Slaughter, Dean and Professor of International Business, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

“The wisest leaders in energy are and will be those whose curiosity to learn and adapt is paramount. The most important quality a successful leader in energy needs, today and in the future, is confident humility. By this I mean the agile combination of confidence in one’s analysis of data and frameworks such as they are today and humility in knowing the limits of all this analysis to what tomorrow may bring. The global energy industry of the past decade has been overturned by revolutionary innovations and by political developments that almost no one knew was coming.”

F_Argenti_P12_600_673_75_sPaul Argenti, Professor of Corporate Communications, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

“We need to be better at training students to think about risk, especially in the area of energy. To do that will require huge changes. One of the most important things that we need to do is to teach students to regularly confront ambiguity. We spend way too much time on quantitative things. We need to teach students that the soft stuff is really the hard stuff.”

View previous perspectives:

Part 1: Educating future leaders in the energy sector – ESSEC Business School, FGV/EAESP, Fudan School of Management

Part 2: Capabilities for leaders in the energy sector – World Energy Council, Parker Ranch, ArcLight Capital Partners LLC, Citizens Energy Corporation, Terra Alpha Investments, LLC


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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