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Executive Education

Profile photo of Maarten Spiljard
Profile photo of Maarten Spiljard
INSEAD Business Sustainability Programme

Sustainability is only set to become more critical as a skill

Maarten Spiljard

Managing Director

In addition to the concepts, there were so many fascinating cases, guest speakers, experts and examples that you really got a clear view of what’s happening in the real world.

Maarten Spiljard is Managing Director for a leading International Logistics service company active in the Energy Industry. Peterson, a Dutch-headquartered logistics firm that services the energy industry. It’s a role that he’s held since 2019 He has been active in the Energy Industry since 2012 and during his tenure he’s observed a sector-wide shift: a move away from fossil to renewable energies that is building momentum, backed by the groundswell of public opinion and the evolving regulatory context.

SustainabiIlity is a critical idea in the 21st century. But it’s also a complex one. And it’s huge. What does sustainability look like in practice? What are the risks and opportunities out there? And how do they apply to businesses and their clients?

These are some of the questions that led Spiljard to INSEAD’s new Business Sustainability programme that explores emerging frameworks, best practices and implementation strategies for sustainable business. The choice of INSEAD in itself was not new, he says.

“I’ve been with INSEAD since 2019, pursuing different programmes in the School’s Executive Education portfolio with a view to obtaining my INSEAD Certificate in Management. Choosing the Business Sustainability programme was a natural next step. I was really keen to unpack all the key concepts, figure out what they mean for the sector I am active in, in particular my clients and for my own company and how to embed new strategies.”

Going into the programme, Spiljard expected the learning experience to focus on the theory of sustainability at a macro level and to explore which trends are shaping the business landscape around the world. And while the programme delivered this understanding, he was also pleasantly surprised by the practical insights and case studies shared by faculty.

“The programme exceeded my expectations from the word go. In addition to the concepts, there were so many fascinating cases, guest speakers, experts and examples that you really got a clear view of what’s happening in the real world; as well as clear suggestions and ideas on how to apply innovation and lead change.”

Spiljard was particularly impressed by the way that faculty were able to bring a real diversity of topics to the table—from strategy to financial to regulation—and bring these things together in a coherent whole.

“It was really very well done, the curriculum,” he says. “You had a chance to dig deep into each area and then stand back to see the big picture on how it all interconnects to make a whole. And getting to that overview perspective is what empowers you then to go ahead and make a roadmap for your own company.”

Understanding sustainability is key to your survival

Coming out of programme, Spiljard has gained clarity of a number of things, he says. First off, he now understands not just the imperative for more sustainable practices, but the touchpoints—the processes and systems—where change must and can be enacted. Secondly, the learning experience has given him measurably more understanding of his company’s clients.

“We’d been seeing lots of requests from our customers to embed sustainability into our services. Now I know why. Before, you would assume you were dealing with isolated requests, but now I understand the pressures that other businesses are under. I undersand their context so much better.”

Spiljard has mastered the language of sustainability, he says. He is better equipped to anticipate risks and opportunities as a result, and can delegate more in his role to make space for more strategic thinking about his own organisation.

“As I can see the patterns more clearly, I’m able to hand over more to my staff and think a bit more about our company as we focus more and more on sustainability internally: what are the opportunities out there and how can I communicate them?”

Spiljard wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this new programme to anyone who has, as he puts it, “years ahead of them in business.” Sustainablity is a topic that is only set to become more and more relevant to everyone in work and in society; understanding what it means to you personally is key to your own survival, he says.

“Going to INSEAD is a wonderful opportunity to consult with thought leaders and peers from all over the world and debate the learning that you share both during and after the programme ends. Taking a programme like Business Sustainability, I would really recommend you go in with some good ideas of your own on the subject, and be prepared to bring your own challenges and experiences to the table to get the most from the experience.”