Masters' programs - tomorrow is our business

Rodolphe Durand

Rodolphe Durand, professor and founder of the SnO Center

Professor and founder of the SnO Center

Since 2008, a vibrant community of professors and PhD students has established a new inter-disciplinary center at HEC Paris: Society and Organizations (SnO). Its stated mission is to guide organizations through a socially and environmentally increasingly complex world and to train future responsible leaders to live up to its challenges.

What is the purpose of the Society & Organizations Center?

Sustainable development, impact investing, circular economy are notions which have gained a much larger audience, fueling the global shift that is reshaping the world. To support this major and exciting turnaround, the Society and Organizations center positions itself as a compass, providing organizations and students with insights on the challenges they face: climate constraints, social inequality, and technological disruption. The objective is for them to grow and become major stakeholders in the transformation of business and society. We contribute to question the current business models, giving framework, both theoretical and practical, to think and implement a necessary change of mindset.

How does SnO work?

SnO was founded in 2008 as an inter-disciplinary initiative that brings together 25 professors and 15 Ph.D. students from nearly all departments of HEC Paris, plus affiliate members and research fellows from all around the world. That synergy is something unique. We combine theoretical lenses from different disciplines to study various topics: new trends of management, the impact of new energy sources on the value chain, responsible finance, the role of NGO, etc. We have produced more than 100 research papers in the last four years and the center has gained a European recognition.
SnO also contributes to increase HEC Paris international legitimacy and visibility through the organization of international events, such as the Golden international workshop last May or the annual edition of the Medici Summer School, co-sponsored with MIT Sloan School of Management and University of Bologna Business School. Under the framework of COP 21, SnO was also the proud promoter of the emblematic “2° Challenge, Climate is our Business” event that took place in 2015 on the campus.

2° Challenge - Climate is our Business event

What do you bring to pedagogic innovation?

SnO is very active on the teaching side. We design new programs and innovative teaching methods to train future responsible managers and executives. The Center promotes experiential learning via the FACT Impact program, which provides first-year (L3) students an opportunity to work for social entrepreneurs and NGOs. SnO also commands the HEC Social Business/ Enterprise and Poverty Certificate and several flagship electives of the Master in Management program.

Moreover, SnO launched two MOOCS in 2015: “Time to reorganize! Understand organizations, act, and build a meaningful world” and “Devenir entrepreneur du changement”.

What are other SnO’s main projects?

We have many other projects. For instance, we want to help the HEC Paris career department launch and scale up a pilot talent development program of coaching and co-coaching, the “Career Launchpad”. It will offer M1 students precise and stimulating guidance in their career paths. Our belief is that achieving a better understanding of oneself, and defining one’s professional goals and contributions, is a key condition to become a responsible leader. This first session will include around one hundred students but we want to expand to offer progressively to 200, 300 and maybe even 600 participants.