“What we Need is a New Energy Paradigm”
Schneider Electric Sustainability and Business Strategy Chair
"We need innovative solutions to create a sustainable future," said Julio Rodríguez, executive vice president of global operations at Schneider Electric during the presentation of the Schneider Electric Sustainability and Business Strategy Chair on April 4 on IESE’s Barcelona campus.
After an introduction from IESE Dean Jordi Canals, Rodríguez said it was "the first chair that we have established at a world level," adding, in a reference to IESE, that "we have allied ourselves with the best of travelling companions."
The chair, which will be held by IESE Prof. Pascual Berrone, aims to generate ideas and disseminate knowledge, frameworks for action and tools to speed up the change towards a sustainable development of business.
Transformations and New Trends
During the presentation, Rodríguez, an IESE alumnus, delineated the principle changes that society is undergoing: urbanization on a world scale and digitization. However, he said these changes are accompanied by serious risks, such as growing peaks in energy demand, rising energy prices, pollution and a shortage of resources.
"Schneider Electric’s response is energy efficiency," he said, listing the main changes that are being developed in energy generation. He also highlighted the fact that in future all points of energy consumption will be linked through "a type of energy Internet." We will also see an increased use of electric vehicles and new energy storage technologies that will make energy available where and when it is needed by individuals and companies.
He was followed by Prof. Pascual Berrone who spoke about the urgent need to manage the planet’s natural resources more efficiently. He regretted that sustainability was not a priority for the majority of executives and that in many cases there is a large gap between theory and practice.
"Taking symbolic action without linking it to far-reaching change is not only useless, it also damages the company’s reputation. However, supporting such efforts has a positive impact on reputation," he said.
The dilemma is how to make sustainability profitable. "Innovation and identifying early on the best solutions is the best way to make sustainability profitable," he said, adding that "more than half the companies that have changed their business model and have made sustainability a permanent part of their strategy have been able to use sustainability to increase profits. Creativity and innovation are essential."