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Interview: Nicola Acutt of Presidio School of Management

Nicola Acutt

San Francisco is considered one of the “greenest” cities in the world. So perhaps it’s no surprise that Bay Area business schools are among the leaders in teaching sustainability and CSR. One school – Presidio School of Management – specializes in it. We spoke to the school’s associate dean Nicola Acutt about the Presidio MBA program, and whether corporate sustainability will be the first victim of the financial crisis.

Will an economic downturn marginalize corporate social responsibility and sustainability?

I think it’s something that’s obviously on the forefront of a lot of people’s minds. I would say that now more than ever, there is a need for business leaders who have this kind of training and understanding. In an economic downturn, sustainability becomes even more critical. In strong economies, it provides opportunities. In weak economies, it provides opportunities, and can be central to survival and turnaround strategy.

In a downturn, one of the most important things is to tighten your belt and look at where you can be more efficient. That’s really at the core of an integrated bottom line: understanding how a sustainability-oriented strategy can reduce risk, cost, enhance reputation, ensure customer loyalty. Those are all key parts of the business case for sustainability and sustainable management.

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