3 ways sustainable businesses can prepare for climate challenges

Wind turbines in a field against a background of a cloudy sky

From supply chain disruption to regulatory compliance pressure, companies experience bottom-line impacts of climate change every day. Accounting for environmental disruptions and transitions is essential to corporate risk management and resilience plans.

Sustainability and ecological transformation experts from Cornell University identified three strategies businesses can implement to thrive – and protect the planet – in a changing climate.

1. Limit the guesswork.

Forecasting climate change impacts on a company’s future requires a data-driven approach. Organizations can use current and projected temperature and weather trends to inform sustainability efforts. Leaders can also consult research and models from reputable sources such as the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to become better informed about the challenges – and opportunities – they may face. Research-based sustainable business practices enable companies to replace speculation with evidence-based predictions and solutions.

“Senior executives need to be fully aware of how climate change is shifting every assumption they may have about the future,” said Michael Hoffmann, former executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change Solutions and professor emeritus in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Grasping how our world is fundamentally changing, and how to respond, is critical for their businesses as well as all of society.”

Corporations can expect more weather extremes that will cause delays, shortages and increased costs in the coming years. Hoffmann contends that it is critical to understand climate change’s bigger picture.

“Water scarcity, reduced crop yields, migration, heatwaves – we have witnessed the consequences of these issues on global business operations and consumers,” Hoffmann said. “Precedent should serve as a baseline for how businesses approach sustainability in the future.”

2. Avoid the copycat trap.

Given the uncertainty around best practices for a sustainable and regenerative future, corporate leaders might be tempted to duplicate the tactics of peers and competitors. Differences in operational size, industry, geography and customer base are important considerations in an organization’s efforts to reduce its effects on the climate and the climate’s effects on the organization.

According to Glen Dowell, the Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor of Management at the Johnson Graduate School of Management, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to climate change challenges for businesses.

“Fit your methods to at least two factors: what your company’s vulnerabilities and opportunities are, and the culture, structure and capabilities your company possesses,” Dowell said. “If your vulnerability stems largely from potential disruptions to a supply of a vital resource, you need to think both about how to secure a less vulnerable supply and possibly how to innovate to find a substitute.”

Dowell asserts that climate change reveals how interconnected our social and ecological systems are. The symbiosis is found in every company in every sector.

“For example, palm oil is sourced all too frequently by razing forests, leading to huge CO2 emissions and reducing the land’s ability to absorb CO2 in the future. If my company depended upon palm oil, I would be derelict in my duty to shareholders if I were not working tirelessly to secure a more sustainable source while simultaneously looking for a suitable replacement,” Dowell said. “For palm oil suppliers, developing a sustainable substitute would represent a significant business opportunity – a chance to gain massive sales to companies that need the product.”

3. Maintain a global and interconnected perspective.

Effective corporate sustainability initiatives involve employees from all business areas. Leaders can set policies and goals for emissions cuts, waste reduction and renewable energy investment, but success requires across-the-board adoption – especially in a time when consumers and investors increasingly expect companies to operate sustainably.

“The business case for sustainability is generally justified by increased profits, environmental benefits and a competitive advantage for early adopters,” said Danielle Eiseman, lecturer in the Brooks School of Public Policy. “However, as the effects of climate change become more widespread, the case for action becomes much more critical than what’s good for the bottom line.”

Eiseman encourages executives to assess the risks and consequences of climate challenges on their businesses through the lenses of individual and global impact.

“For informed decision-making, leaders need to comprehend the broader consequences like socio-economic implications and geopolitical shifts on a worldwide scale. Businesses operate within an ecosystem in which disruptions in one part of the world can have cascading effects throughout the supply chain and markets,” Eiseman said.

Learn how to seize the opportunities in sustainability.

Faculty from Cornell University have designed online certificate programs on a range of environmental, social and governance (ESG) topics, including sustainable business, corporate sustainability and equitable community change. A four-week Climate Change Leadership course from the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is also available online through eCornell.

New Cornell Keynotes podcast features faculty experts

Cornell Keynotes podcast logo

According to the Pew Research Center, more than half of American podcast listeners tune in to learn. eCornell recently launched the Keynotes podcast to deliver a new audio option for audiences seeking knowledge from Cornell experts on current events and trending topics.

Episodes highlight content from the Keynotes webcast series which launched in 2018 and has aired more than 750 livestreamed video events to over half a million viewers. Guests include Cornell faculty and leaders from a diverse range of industries.

“Through the Keynotes podcast, we aim to bring the rich expertise of Cornell’s faculty and network of industry leaders to audiences in a manner that fits the busy lifestyles of lifelong learners,” said Molly Israel, senior director of communications and brand at eCornell. “We’re excited to provide an on-the-go experience to listeners around the globe to keep them informed on timely topics.”

In the podcast’s first release, “Demystifying Funky, Trendy Natural Wines,” international wine authority Cheryl Stanley joins senior producer Chris Wofford for a tasting tour and discussion of evolving consumer tastes.

Other featured Cornell faculty include:

  • Director of the Criminal Justice and Employment Initiative at the Cornell ILR School Timothy McNutt on addressing employment barriers for formerly incarcerated people.
  • JR Keller, assistant professor at the Cornell ILR School, and Angela Cheng-Cimini ’92, chief human resources officer for Harvard Business Publishing, on hiring from within an organization.
  • Cornell Nolan School of Hotel Administration professor Jan deRoos on industry trends in commercial real estate.

“It’s wonderful to have a platform for sharing the vast and varied knowledge of our professors with our university community and others,” Israel added. “Each episode offers their nuanced insights on current events and trends. We look forward to connecting with many more faculty members and sharing our conversations with listeners.”

A special episode “Holiday Drinks to Dazzle Your Guests” featuring Stanley and Doug Miller, senior lecturers in the Nolan School, is now available just in time for this season of celebrations.

The Cornell Keynotes podcast is available on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts and Simplecast.

Content Writing certificate teaches leaders to engage and persuade

By Justin Heitzman, eCornell marketing intern

From internal planning documents to external media releases, a convincing piece of writing can be a key to success for business initiatives – and for the professionals who lead them.

Cornell’s Content Writing online certificate program, offered through eCornell, empowers students with techniques to present information succinctly and engage readers with actionable next steps. Lauren Chambliss, senior lecturer in the Department of Communication at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is the faculty author. Chambliss was a journalist for 20 years in Washington, D.C., before coming to Cornell. She previously served as director of communication for the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability and now teaches full time.

In developing the certificate program, Chambliss noted a trend: Organizations expect professionals across career fields to take on – and excel in – writing-focused responsibilities. Recent studies on effective management, such as Google’s Project Oxygen, show that employers view strong communication skills as essential and closely associated with good leadership, no matter the sector.

“In today’s professional landscape, writing is not just a task for copywriters. It’s a valuable skill across various roles and industries,” Chambliss said. “Regardless of your job title, having a strong writing portfolio sets you apart, paves the way for career advancement and opens doors to leadership opportunities.”

Even standard presentations are being replaced with written content in some organizations. At Amazon, PowerPoint slides have been phased out in favor of six-page memos at executive meetings. The company’s leaders contend that the practice encourages employees to pack as much information as possible into their proposals, creating more convincing narratives.

Students earning Cornell’s Content Writing certificate complete two courses on conciseness and persuasiveness in copywriting and three courses on effective writing for digital contexts: websites, online media and social media. In addition to gaining an understanding of copywriting fundamentals, participants learn an increasingly important skill: content targeting. Students complete a variety of writing and self-editing exercises throughout the program, building toward a final project.

The program also offers a symposium: three days of live, interactive virtual sessions that enable students, Cornell faculty and industry experts to engage in real-time conversations about pressing topics in marketing and communications.

“Creating engaging, lively content across multiple platforms is critical in today’s professional world, whether you are a content creator, a business owner or a copywriter in a big company, government agency or non-profit,” Chambliss said. “Dynamic writing requires us to keep adapting and improving our skills.”

Cornell’s Content Writing certificate program prepares professionals to craft content that engages and persuades. Are you ready to discover current best practices for your business communications? Learn more and enroll now.

This story was drafted by eCornell marketing intern Justin Heitzman.

Success After Service: The Veteran’s Guide to Choosing an Online Certificate Program

Soldier in Army shirt works at laptop computer

By Teresa Duncan, Ph.D., CSM(R), Director of Military Programs at eCornell

Transitioning from active duty to civilian life can lead to a profound sense of fulfillment and significant challenges. Many veterans are equipped with industry-specific service experience, but complex job markets still often present obstacles to employment.

Online certificate programs offer veterans opportunities to acquire new skills and knowledge, demonstrate commitment to particular career fields and build networks of like-minded leaders – all essential factors in securing professional roles. However, selecting the right program is key. Here are four questions veterans should consider when determining which online education programs would be most valuable for their future.

Does the program align with my background and goals?

Leveraging current skills can be advantageous in the effort to bridge the gap between military experience and civilian job requirements. For example, if a veteran has experience in logistics, a program in supply chain management or project leadership might be a natural fit.

It is important to understand the options. In evaluating course content, prerequisites and outcomes, a veteran may find unexpected alignment with goals that diverge from their background and sync with their transferable skills. A former Army civil affairs specialist might excel in a PR strategy certificate program that covers crisis communication planning or discover new ways to lead through an international public and NGO management program.

To choose the best path, it is valuable to first complete a self-assessment of strengths and areas for growth, then list short- and long-term career objectives. The program a veteran selects should align with the needs and goals they identify.

Is the program flexible enough to fit my schedule and lifestyle?

Online learning makes professional development more accessible than ever. The most popular types of online learning models include:

100% Asynchronous – This on-demand style of learning is the most flexible. Learners can complete assignments at any time, and there is no direct interaction with faculty, industry specialists or peers to discuss ideas or answer questions. Without additional structure, some learners find it difficult to complete the courses or apply what they learn without support.

Asynchronous and interactive – This model permits students to log in and learn at their convenience while connecting learners to professionals and peers. There may be requirements to complete assignments through discussion boards with classmates. Plus, instructors are on hand to give feedback and help students stay on track to apply what they learn to their current or future jobs.

Synchronous – This style is the least flexible and most interactive. Courses are delivered live by instructors, and learners must attend at specific times to participate.

It can be helpful for veterans to explore programs with self-paced options or accommodations for irregular schedules. The selected program should also match their individual learning style and offer a multitude of instructional approaches, including video lectures, downloadable guides, discussion forums and peer collaboration.

Will I receive academic support to complete the program?

Resource access is a significant consideration for any educational venture. Students should be able to reach advisors or facilitators in the virtual learning environment as easily as they could by visiting their physical offices. When searching for the right-fit online certificate, veterans should ensure there are clear methods for learners to contact staff who can offer guidance on the course materials, answer questions or address technical issues.

Veterans may also take their team-oriented experience into account and select programs that offer cohort-based learning, study groups or symposiums. Peer interactions can provide camaraderie and motivation to complete complex assignments and offer an expanded network that learners can tap into throughout their careers.

It is also necessary to assess financial resources. Programs that accept veteran benefits or offer payment plans are better for budgets and vital to maintaining other economic aspects of the transition to a civilian lifestyle.

How will the program advance my career or improve my prospects for the future?

As technology continues to transform business and hiring practices, it is more important to stand out in the pool of candidates with advanced education or training from reputable institutions. The most beneficial online certificate programs for veterans will deliver content developed by distinguished faculty and industry experts, course tools that can be used on the job and credits toward professional certifications. These advantages empower vets to tie their military service to current specialized skills that employers need.

Ultimately, a certificate is a valued addition to a resume. Completing an online learning program is also a gateway to building the confidence, connections, and qualifications that shape lives beyond the workplace.

Would an asynchronous and interactive online certificate program align with your goals? If so, Cornell University provides more than 130 online certificate programs that can help you upskill as you serve or prepare to transition. Cornell was recently named the #1 Best College for Veterans by U.S. News & World Report, and its online programs are directly authored by Cornell faculty and guided by professional industry facilitators. Small cohorts enable students to develop valuable connections that position them for success in a variety of fields. You can get started today with Credentialing Assistance or VA education benefits. Learn more at ecornell.cornell.edu.

Watch “Cornell’s Military History: A Legacy of Service.”

 

Cornell introduces new AI-focused Board Governance program

Cornell live immersion program participants engage in discussion

Blending resilience and risk is essential for companies that intend to survive today’s tech innovations, economic uncertainty and political pendulum swings. The greater the challenges, the greater the demand for leaders who can deliver an effective mix of foresight and strategic oversight.

Board Governance: Navigating Emerging Technologies and More in a Complex World, a new Cornell Tech immersion program slated for this fall, is set to prepare corporate board members for fast-paced evolutions in artificial intelligence (AI), geopolitics, cybersecurity, supply chains, sustainability and other areas driving the future of commerce.

Read the full story on the Cornell Chronicle.

Bringing New Science to Market

Medical supplies and drugs, including a syringe, surgical mask, and pills

Medical innovation is reaching new heights every year. What scientific breakthroughs can we expect on the market in the coming decade? What challenges will we face in adopting them?

Professor Sean Nicholson, director of the Cornell Sloan Program in Health Administration, welcomed Wyatt Gotbetter, SVP and worldwide head of Parexel Access Consulting, and Dr. Gregory B. Franz, MD, MPH, MHA, hematologist and medical oncologist at the Kirkland Cancer Center, to explore answers to these questions in the recent Keynote webcast “Bringing New Science to Market: Innovation, Adoption, and Health Policy Challenges.”

Biotech and pharmaceutical firms spend about $80 billion each year on research and development in order to try to bring new therapies to the market. What is in the pipeline that might have a big positive effect on the health of the population in the future?

Gotbetter: “If we think just about the past five years, and of course that includes the pandemic, I think the rate of innovation and the number of launches has been remarkable. We can’t have this discussion without acknowledging the validation and the importance to all of us of the RNAi vaccines from BioNTech and Moderna. Moderna, on the heels of that success and being flush with sales of their COVID vaccine, is really advancing a number of therapeutic products as well as vaccines – really advancing their RNAi technology into the therapeutic space and oncology specifically.

In the same time, we’ve seen the approval of a couple of CAR-Ts truly advancing life-saving therapy in hematology and oncology. I think we’ll see gene therapies becoming safer and easier to manufacture, hopefully at lower costs. There’s just a pipeline of literally hundreds of programs where we’ll see gene therapy go from rare disease and disease that has very, very high morbidity perhaps into things managed more chronically with small molecule drugs – like heart failure.”

We have a couple of CAR-T therapies on the market that are Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved. Are there similar kinds of classes of compounds that have yet to be approved that you think might potentially have a similar health impact?

Franz: “Leveraging the immune system to identify and kill cancer cells – that’s really what’s going on here. This is T cells doing what T cells do against cancer cells. I know that’s a very simple explanation. It’s very difficult to develop these compounds and to do this safely, but I think that’s where the money and the future is.”

It takes a long time, and it’s very expensive for biotech and pharmaceutical firms to run clinical trials and, even preceding that, to identify compounds that are promising enough to start a clinical trial. The current estimate is about $2.6 billion in investment across a portfolio of compounds in order to statistically assure a company that they’re going to have one approved compound. Where do companies come up with that money, and in the current climate, is it difficult for companies to raise the funds they need in order to invest in those drugs?

Gotbetter: “That $2.6 billion figure also includes the cost of failure. Even if we think about a successful drug compound, if you boil down the numbers, hundreds and hundreds of drug candidates will be considered before you start your phase one and then roughly one in ten of those will make it through to approval. It’s fraught with risk. But even if you could streamline that process, you’re probably looking at hundreds of millions to a billion dollars.

The amount of money that’s poured into the biotech sector over the past few years has been remarkable. We’ve seen, though, a massive sea change in the past year. Biotech has been the engine of discovery and innovation for large pharmaceutical companies. The largest companies in the world that certainly have formidable R&D engines employing thousands of people still turn to biotech to find innovation, to find a compound that has been tested, that shows a proof of concept, and can move forward.

The headwinds of the past year or two – interest rates and some of the perceived threats of the Inflation Reduction Act, which could reduce pricing power of the industry – has really slowed down [venture capital] funding.

I think what that means is that probably the rate of innovation will slow down a little bit in the sense that there may be fewer programs being pursued simultaneously, so a company may really focus on the crown jewels instead of many at once. Then biotech may again have to be more reliant on Big Pharma once they’re in the middle of their development versus a period where they probably could see funding to go all the way through.”

What are the factors that make a drug widely adopted?

Franz: “In the medical oncology world, it’s really all about safety and efficacy. Is the drug difficult to give? Does the patient have a lot of adverse side effects? How do you manage those side effects? But most importantly, you’re looking at endpoints: PFS, or progression-free survival, and OS, or overall survival. Duration of response and response rate are biggies and, of course, the toxicity profile. All those together are important. The better the PFS and OS, the more successful the drug is going to be.”

Are biotech and pharmaceutical firms doing anything to try to run their trials differently – to be less expensive, to be shorter, to have higher probability of approval?

Gotbetter: “The FDA provides a rubric that says for very life-threatening diseases, it will work with the industry sponsor to find a way to streamline the therapy. We have names for that in the U.S like breakthrough therapies and accelerated pathways, where you get more support and guidance from the regulatory agency, but you’re also partnering with them along the way to find a way to expedite the study.

There’s a lot of companies that are using all sorts of AI, computational methods and synthetic biology to [speed up the trial process].”

Historically, clinical trials have been dominated by white men. Are biotech and pharmaceutical firms trying to diversify those trials? What are the implications potentially of a more representative group of patients in the testing phase?

Gotbetter: “There are mandates coming from the FDA and other governments, and I think very sincere efforts from the pharma industry and from clinical research organizations who enroll and operationalize the studies to really bring diversity into studies. There’s an awareness in society for many reasons, for many historical wrongs, we need to bring more diversity into everything we do. It’s to really ensure that when we study a drug, we’ll be able to show efficacy in different populations because we’re not all the same. Historically, if you were to develop a drug for people of European descent, across the globe in Asian markets, they would want to know that there was a study being done in populations for which the results were meaningful for them. As we take that to other populations, to different age groups, different genders, it’s the right thing to do.”

 

This post has been edited for length and clarity.

Want to learn more about the future of biopharma? Register for Cornell’s Biotech and Pharmaceutical Management Immersion Program and watch the full Keynote “Bringing New Science to Market” webcast online.

Cornell Tech launches new product, technology leadership program

Students at Cornell Tech

As the demand for product managers and tech executives continues to grow, Cornell Tech has purposefully designed a flagship Product and Tech Executive Leadership Program in collaboration with eCornell, offering professionals a unique opportunity to enhance their leadership skills and take their tech innovation strategies to the next level. The program aims to equip participants with the necessary expertise to navigate the rapidly evolving digital landscape.

Designed for mid and senior-level product managers, engineering leaders and technology professionals with experience leading teams, the three-day immersive program will take place Sept. 19 to 21, 2023, at Cornell Tech in New York, NY.

Read the full story on the Cornell Chronicle.

Cornell debuts biotech, pharma management program

Networking at Cornell Tech

As biotechnology and pharmaceutical professionals continue efforts to make advances in medicinal drug formulation, safety and efficacy, experts in the field are implementing innovations to address regulatory hurdles, research costs and global health challenges.

The new Biotech and Pharmaceutical Management Program offered through the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy is designed to give leaders the opportunity to explore industry trends and cutting edge research with a cohort of peers, executives and renowned faculty from the university.

Read the full story on the Cornell Chronicle.

Pre-college big data certificate offered free to Cornell community

Close-up of hands typing on a laptop

A new pre-college certificate program designed to help high school students develop data analysis skills complementary to a wide range of academic and professional fields will be offered at no cost to the children of Cornell faculty and staff and underserved students nominated by local high schools and other partners.

“Big Data for Big Policy Problems,” offered by eCornell in collaboration with Cornell’s Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy and the School of Continuing Education, is a rigorous, non-credit version of the course offered to Cornell students.

Read the full story on the Cornell Chronicle.