Francisco Szekely

Adjunct Professor of Leadership and Sustainability

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Francisco Szekely is Adjunct Professor of Leadership and Sustainability. His work contributes to the understanding of the interrelationships between the emergence of new social, economic, and environmental trends as well as the development of long-term, sustainable business strategies.

Szekely’s research explores how companies can include sustainability as a key element of their business strategy, the link between sustainability and business performance, high performance leadership, the development of the leadership required by organizations to sustain long-term business performance over time, and the development and expectations of generations Y and Next.

Prior to joining IMD, Szekely served on the faculties of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, MIT, the International Academy of the Environment in Geneva, Switzerland and the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin, Germany, where he taught sustainable development and responsible leadership. Additionally, he has worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Company managing clients in Mexico, the US, and Holland, and has served as Deputy Minister of Environment and Natural Resources for the Mexican government. Most recently, Szekely was Professor of Business Sustainability and Director of the Center for Responsible Business and Sustainability at the School of Management of the University of Texas at Dallas.

He is the author of seven books, including the 2017 title Beyond the Triple Bottom Line: Eight Steps toward a Sustainable Business Model. He has also written numerous articles and case studies and is the recipient of the 2011 International Award on the Hot Topic Case Writing from the European Case Clearing House (ECCH). His works have been published in European Management Journal, Environmental Assessment Review (MIT), and other refereed journals.

Szekely holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, an MSc in engineering from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and an MSc in technology and human affairs and a PhD in Environmental Sciences and Economics from Washington University, St Louis, Missouri

Academic publications
Article
Incremental, radical and game-changing: Strategic innovation for sustainability
Purpose – This article was developed to provide a viewpoint for the 10th Annual EABIS Colloquium on Strategic Innovation for Sustainability held at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland on 3-4 July 2012. De...
Published 1 January 2013
Article
Responsible leadership and corporate social reponsibility: Metrics for sustainanle performance
Many companies have initiated a variety of sustainable development initiatives to address the demands and expectations of society. Although most analysts argue that these initiatives contribute to ...
Published 1 December 2005
Article
Managing the environment in megacities: Business potential of industrial waste
The world's population is linving increasingly in megacities, where the inhabitants perceive their quality of life to be threatened by industrial waste. This article examines the new business oppor...
Published 1 September 1992
Article
What is 'green'?
This article presents a framework for identifying who and what is behind the concept of ‘green’, the dynamics in which this concept is applied, and the strategic importance of this topic for compan...
Published 1 September 1994
Insight for Executives
Climate Crisis: Moving from promises to action
Article
Climate Crisis: Moving from promises to action
As the United Nations just held its “Climate Action Summit,” it is clearer than ever that the climate crisis needs to be addressed by the concerted efforts of all sectors of society. Among these, t...
Published 24 September 2019
Article
Why should companies care about social responsibility?
Corporate social responsibility initiatives and the idea of the triple bottom line have grown in popularity among business circles. But where do the boundaries of a company’s social responsibility ...
Published 13 November 2018
Why less bad doesn’t equal good
Article
Why less bad doesn’t equal good
Why does a company exist? If you’d asked executives this in the 1970s, the most common answer would have been ‘to make money’. Consumers, employees and the natural environment didn’t really figure ...
Published 19 June 2017
TESLA becomes a model for sustainable leadership: David and Goliath revisited
Article
TESLA becomes a model for sustainable leadership: David and Goliath revisited
Far from focusing on short-term goals and immediate growth – as many traditional car makers do – Tesla decided from the beginning to adopt a big picture approach by focusing on addressing two impor...
Published 13 April 2017
San Patrignano and the social dimension of sustainability, a systems approach
Article
San Patrignano and the social dimension of sustainability, a systems approach
Sustainability initiatives often fall short of their desired objective. While previous discussions have cited faults within an organization and/or the process it commits to when pursuing sustainabi...
Published 1 June 2016
Engaging sustainability stakeholders
Article
Engaging sustainability stakeholders
Sustainable organizations are those that positively impact all stakeholder groups. Richard Freeman formalized the notion of stakeholders in 1984 in an attempt to extend the bounds of responsibility...
Published 8 December 2015
Article
Tomando a decisão sustentável
Cada vez mais as empresas discutem a sustentabilidade, mas exatamente o quê elas querem dizer? Embora muitas¦pessoas definam práticas sustentáveis como aquelas que beneficiam a sociedade, a sustent...
Published 13 February 2014
Sustainability is actually good news
Article
Sustainability is actually good news
Social and environmental issues can be very complex and overwhelming for managers. A partnership seems like an obvious solution. But what type of partnership is appropriate, what are the pitfalls a...
Published 27 April 2012
Beyond the Triple Bottom Line
Book
Beyond the Triple Bottom Line
Many recent books make the case for businesses to become more sustainable, but few explain the specifics. In this book, Francisco Szekely and Zahir Dossa offer a pragmatic new business model for su...
Published 1 January 0001