Bridging the gap between theory & practice

Sustainable Management and Corporate Social Responsibility are significant themes with regard to the current discussion about the role of business in society. Join and learn how to understand and apply these new management tool with respect to strategy, operations, customer benefits, social value and commercial success.  At the Sustainability Masterclass hosted by CASM and the CBS, well-known management and startup professionals as well as company representatives discuss these issues in detail. All postgraduates, as well as master and bachelor students and interested colleagues and friends are invited to join us for this open lecture series supported by the Dr. Juergen Meyer Foundation.



On October 9th, Femnet e.V. joined us for a guest workshop on “From exploitation to sustainability in fashion – ecological and social certificates and standards in textile supply chains”. Sustainable fashion expert Annika Cornellisen discussed topics of fashion supply chains and current challenges of the industry with a special focus on labeling and certification with 26 students. The workshop offered an examination of important criteria of ecological and social product-certificates and standards. The students learned to locate the most important standards along the textile supply chain and to recognize what credibility lies behind the production conditions they claim.


We were excited for the opportunity of welcoming BOSCH at CBS for a Sustainability Master Class. Ludger Hermanns, Head of Innovation at BOSCH Connected Industries, and Petra Martin, Head of the Competence Center Leadership at BOSCH talked to over 50 interested students on “Sustainable Leadership @ BOSCH”.

The students got the chance to learn about the opportunities and challenges that current digital and societal transformations place on a large multinational yet traditional corporation. During the presentation especially the understanding of technology as a mean to serve a value-oriented purpose was stressed. Moreover, a profound need of a shift in mindset to be adequately prepared to lead corporations – and most of all their people – successfully in a VUCA-world became clear. In small groups the students had a chance to discuss questions and strategies together with our guests, who were curious and excited to get perspectives and inputs on their approaches from aspiring young leaders.


Armed Angels

Cologne (Germany), April 18th: Armed Angels company presentation by Lavinia Muth began with an introduction to the environmental problems caused by the global fashion industry. The Cologne based company is working on their own solutions to reduce the impact of their business, using sustainable materials, ensuring supply chain traceability and the promotion of better wage systems. These and more action points can also be found on the CEO agenda 2018 that Armed Angels presented.  The change inspiring document was developed by the Copenhagen Fashion Summit and signed by many leading company representatives. Following the presentation, the group engaged in an active discussion about sustainability in the fashion industry. There is still a long way to go, but as well we as the consumers can influence its progress by the purchasing choices that we make.


Cologne (Germany), April 17th: The organisation FEMNET e.V. is a non-profit women’s right organization. In her presentation Kerstin Dahmen presented the different projects FEMNET e.V is currently working on in India and Bangladesh. The presentation enabled the audience to gain insights into the diverse projects executed by the organization.
Their key activity is campaigning against the exploitation of women in the fashion industry to remove not only gender hierarchies but also social injustices and improve their standard of living. FEMNET e.V. aims to encourage people not only to review their consumption habits, but also to speak up for aggrieved female workers all around the world.
Finally, FEMNET e.V. offers great opportunities for cooperations with students and is the perfect contact in the fashion industry.

Bethmann Bank

Cologne (Germany), March 14th 2018: When choosing between supporting sustainable companies or the ones with the most promising performance, one would think that most people would choose the second. But this reality is changing, as explained by Daniela Fassbender, Head of Private Banking from Bethmann Bank. Every second euro invested is now directed towards the so called ESG (Environmental Social Governance) Investments and Bonds, that are screened with help of Sustainalitycs to analyze the characteristics of the social, environmental and governance aspects of the company or country in which the investors can entrust their money in. Being a partner of the Global Compact and having the goal of only taking part in business with companies that adopt the same values, the Bethmann Bank puts sustainability at the core of their business.

Bayer Crop Science

Cologne (Germany), March 14th 2018: One of the major problems the world is facing is how we are going to successfully and sustainably feed the ever-increasing billions of people inhabiting our planet. Tobias Menne, Head of Digital Farming at Bayer Crop Science came to CBS and talked about the future of farming and what Bayer is doing to support the development and digitalization of farms. Mr. Menne showed that farms can be digitally monitored via satellite and that farmers are given tools to connect with other growers across the world via apps. He answered questions from interested students which encouraged a lively discussion on a potential a farming revolution.


Cologne (Germany), March 13th 2018: In the scope of the Sustainability Days 2018, Evonik visited CBS to present their business. Responsible action and business success are inseparable and therefore Evonik uses sustainability as a lever for more and better business. The company’s main projects are currently Resource Efficiency and Recovery with the aim to empower the reuse of things, Sustainable Aquaculture to avoid overfishing, Hydrogen Mobility and Green Tires.

Dr. Schneider, representative of Evonik and head of their CSR department, discussed the question “Why Sustainability is good for business?” and explained that the clear trend is shifting towards more sustainable solutions, as society is increasing awareness of sustainability through media and the wider public.

GLS Bank

Cologne (Germany), March 6th 2018: In recent years, we have seen a rise in businesses investing in social and ethical initiatives. GLS Bank, Gemeinschaftsbank für Leihen und Schenken (English: Community Bank for Loaning and Giving) was the first bank in Germany that operated with an ethical philosophy. According to the presentation which was given by the Head of the Treasury Department Ulrich Weber, their focus is on ecological, social and cultural initiatives, and not being primarily concerned with maximizing profits. He also explained the investment process of GLS and introduced cooperations with initiatives such as BigBoden Genossenschaft, GLS Beteiligungs AG and the foundations for the future, the GLS Treuhand.


German Football Association (DFB)

24th of April 2017: For the second time Cologne Business School hosted two representatives of the German Football Association (DFB) on campus. Stefanie Schulte, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, and Lothar Rieth, Member of the Commission of Social Responsibility at DFB held a presentation on “DFB and responsibility: Strengthening the community, shaping society”. Ms. Schulte and Mr. Rieth’s presentation focused on DFB’s sustainability management with an emphasize on the role of social responsibility and sustainability reporting. Patrick Bungard, the director of CASM said about the presentation: “We are glad that Ms Schulte and Mr. Rieth had the time to provide us with some great insights on the sustainability practices at the German Football Association.

Thyssenkrupp, Münchener Bank and Brenntag

15th – 16th of March 2017: As part of the event University2Business at the Cologne Business School, the Center for Advanced Sustainable Management (CASM) arranged three Executive Masterclass lectures. In the sessions, Mr. Fusshoeller (Thyssenkrupp AG), Mrs. Kuttner (Münchner Bank eG) and Mr. Eckert (Brenntag AG) gave insights about their companies’ respective corporate strategy with a special focus on sustainability. Students were able to ask questions after the presentations and were able to engage in a meaningful intellectual discussion with the company representatives on the aforementioned topics.


November 15th, 2017: The founders of Green2B came to CBS to share with CBS students, faculty, and staff their entrepreneurial story, and how sustainability can be used as a tool for social entrepreneurship. Green2B is a battery and cell phone recycling company, based in Cologne that has partnered with several German supermarket chains, and charities. They collect old or broken cell phones and either salvage them for precious metals, or repair them and resell them on the open market. It was a great demonstration of how a business can juxtapose societal benefit and profit. Throughout the talk they discussed their history and their progress as a business. It was great to learn from real entrepreneurs about social entrepreneurship, and to get their general thoughts on CSR and sustainability.

Following the Green2B Sustainability Class, all of the participants were invited to join a get together to celebrate the success of CBS Sustainability Week. Members of CASM and the CSR Student Team as well as interested students and professors continued to engage in lively discussions about sustainability and CSR. Eric Schumacher also shared further insights on how sustainability can provide a business opportunity for entrepreneurs.


November 16th, 2017: Interseroh is a consulting firm that specializes in applying the principles of circular economy in the recycling sector and is a subsidiary of the Alba Group, one of Germany’s biggest waste management providers. The company systematically closes product, material and logistics cycles and sets industry standards with its recycling solutions and waste prevention strategies. Interseroh’s innovative approach is customized for every customer and helps to reduce waste to a minimum. In the presentation Ms. Sybilla Merian, Sustainability Manager at Interseroh, spoke about the importance of recycling and introduced gave some practical insight and hands-on advice.

GLS Bank

November 17th, 2017: The GLS Bank was the first social and ecological bank in Germany. As it stands for “community bank for loans and gifts”, they support a variety of projects and businesses like organic farms, nursing homes, projects for the unemployed, and communal living projects, as well as sustainable businesses. Christian Eichbauer demonstrated how finance and sustainability can be united and how banking can be used to create social value in our modern world.


November 17th, 2017: Climate change is no longer just a buzzword, but a meaningful movement to redefine business models and the quality of life for current generations. Once the Paris Agreement is signed, concrete actions should be taken to limited the ramifications of climate change. The concept of the Circular Economy is an essential step to address renewable materials, recyclability and durability of products and packaging. Industry leaders need to lead the way in implementing this new strategic approach. How close are these companies to closing the loop within their respective value chain? What do their sustainability initiatives look like? What can you as a consumer and a European citizen do to contribute? These questions were addressed by  Aliaksandra Dzenisiuk, a  sustainability manager at Henkel who is an expert in sustainability Life Cycle Assessment. In her presentation on “Closing the loop – Circular Enonomy and Henkel” she spoke about Henkel’s sustainability areas such as: Safety and Health, Water and Wastewater, Energy and Climate and Social Progress. She also introduced Henkel’s circular economy concept and cooperation with initiatives like New Plastic Economy (NPEC), Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging (CEFLEX) and Plastic Bank.


Circular Knowledge Institute

On February 18th, 2016, the third Executive Masterclass of the “Sustainable Management” series took place at the Cologne Business School. Dr. Thomas Osburg, director of the Circular Knowledge Institute, a European Think Tank for Trusted Innovation and Branding, talked about the increasing importance of CSR and Social innovation. Most businesses have acknowledged the importance of sustainability and have taken different measures to approach the issue, however customers do not perceive these measures as sufficient or still do not trust companies, due to past history of maleficence. Dr. Osburg postulated that it is a matter of the quality of social innovations and that it is a necessity for companies to readjust their strategic approach from being reactive to being proactive in actively tackling social and environmental problems in order to generate a credible CSR strategy.

Vaillant Group

21st of November 2016: Dr. Jens Wichtermann is Director of Group Communication, Sustainability & Politics at the Vaillant Group, a global leader in the development of high-efficiency heating, cooling and hot water products and solutions. Dr. Wichtermann presented the Vaillant Group’s strategic sustainability program S.E.E.D.S. to students from the Cologne Business School. The Vaillant Group first began the program in 2011: the Vaillant Group’s sustainability strategy defines ambitious targets and specific measures for the focal areas Development & Products, Environment and Employees.


On November 23rd, 2016, Cologne Business School students had the chance to pitch their social and sustainable ideas in front of a jury of established business professionals.  The jury for the “Social Entrepreneurship Pitch” consisted of Dr. Lorenz Graef, the founder of the regional incubator start-up STARTPLATZ and Prof. Dr. René Schmidpeter. Entrepreneurs are known for solving the problems of their customers through the development of new business models and the discovery and exploitation of new markets. The same can be said of social entrepreneurs. However, one is a slight difference, social entrepreneurs view profit and positive social impact as equally important, as they seek to solve sustainable and ecological problems.

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