Leading Sustainable Innovation Professional Certificate


Grossman School of Business

UVM’s fully online Leading Sustainable Innovation Professional Certificate program is comprised of core content from UVM’s top-ranked Sustainable Innovation MBA program and a transformative, fully immersive, team-based simulation. Participants learn by doing as they navigate a complex change process, transforming a conventional business into a sustainable one, collaborating with team members and stakeholders to tap new sources of innovation.

We have turned the traditional approach to online executive education upside down. Most leadership programs emphasize content first, and present it in a prescribed order. They may then include a simulation to reinforce the learning about that content. We use the opposite approach: emphasize the simulation as a leadership “practice field” and use content to support that learning experience.

Our online learning environment is uniquely designed to support this learner-led approach. It enables the learner to access content as needed—throughout the simulation and in any order. This means that participants access content when they are most motivated to learn. The content is in micro-learning form (short) to provide quick “nuggets” that can be immediately applied on the simulation practice field (or in the workplace). These nuggets are distilled from the top-ranked Sustainable Innovation MBA program at the UVM Grossman School of Business, so they provide cutting-edge insights from faculty and leaders of sustainable businesses.

The online learning environment also incorporates social and collaborative features, and is mobile-friendly so that learning can occur anywhere, at any time.

Weekly Time Commitment: 5 – 8 Hours:

Apply Learn Practice Pie Chart

LEARN Core Concepts – 1.5-2 hours/week

PRACTICE Team Simulation – 2-4 hours/week

APPLY Workplace Project – 1.5-2 hours/week

8-Week Schedule

Week 1: Orientation and Prework

Learn Apply Practice Grid

Unique Features and Benefits of the Team Simulation Activity

    • Emotionally Engaging: To recreate the same kind of management challenges and pressures that business leaders experience in real life, we use varied media (videos, documents, reports) to introduce strategic dilemmas that raise the stakes and create realistic tensions across roles.

      Benefit: An experience that “sticks.” Additionally, the simulation provides an excellent practice field for building emotional intelligence (including self-awareness and interactions with others).

    • Realistic Model: Using a highly sophisticated modeling approach (systems dynamics) our simulation includes thousands of variables and their cause-and-effect feedback relationships to reproduce realistic business behavior.

      Benefit: Participants learn by doing in an environment that responds like real life.

    • Team Learning: The simulation is designed to build collaboration and teamwork skills in a complex environment. Participants learn that their results are only as good as the quality of their team decision-making.

      Benefit: Participants learn how to work more productively with others to develop better long-term business solutions.

    • Stakeholder Roles: In addition to management roles, each simulation team includes three critical stakeholder roles (corporate, NGO Manager, Government), bringing a more diverse set of perspectives to the experience and heightening the tensions.

      Benefit: Participants learn to work with a more varied set of perspectives to find innovative business solutions.

    • Distributed Learning: Learning by doing (the kind that changes behavior) requires multiple tries, experiencing some failures, and having the chance to adjust and see the results. Our simulation experience includes multiple rounds of decision-making and allows time between each round to reflect on results and reconsider one’s approach.

      Benefit: Experiential learning that changes behavior.

    • Business Eco-System View: Most business simulations include the core functions of the business, with social and environmental systems represented by “external” factors. Our simulation model incorporates these social, environmental, and community systems as an integral part of the model. The duration of the simulation is 20 years, meaning that the long-term consequences of feedback loops within the business eco-system can be experienced.

      Benefit: Participants gain insights into the broader impacts (social, environmental, long-term) of their business decisions.

    • Industry Disruption: We include a scenario in which the industry undergoes a significant disruption. Teams must invest in emerging technologies and make smart capital and human investments to transform the business in ways that are both profitable and sustainable.

      Benefit: Participants build change agility as they balance “new” and “old” business models during a challenging transition phase.

    • Rich Data, Triple Bottom Line: The output reports from the simulation contain a wealth of information about the impact of the team’s decisions on the business eco-system. Participants can drill into Triple Bottom Line results (people, profit, planet) at multiple depths: Key Performance Indicators, Dashboards, and detailed reports.

      Benefit: Participants learn how to incorporate TBL results into their business decision-making.

    • Professional Team Facilitation: Each team has a professional facilitator who will answer questions about the simulation, support team development, and challenge teams to think more deeply about their decisions or results. Our approach is unique in that we allow teams to choose their own path and learn by doing (often by making mistakes). At the same time, our facilitators typically have two decades or more experience guiding challenging team simulations. They know how to intervene only as necessary to avoid distractions and to ensure that valuable learning opportunities aren’t missed or glossed over.

      Benefit: The team owns their learning process and as a result they own their insights.