Nova SBE Addresses Grand Challenges

Aligned with its mission to be a community dedicated to the development of talent and knowledge that impacts the world, Nova SBE took part in the ENABLE project.

Photo by Wifre Melendrez

Financed by Erasmus +, ENABLE aims to establish a European education platform to create awareness about the functioning of ecosystems and the benefits of sustainable landscape management, demonstrating that sustainability and profitability can go hand in hand and that the gap between economy and ecology can be bridged.

This article is about this bridge and how Nova SBE students can take an important role in its construction. It’s about the future of our society!

Nova SBE’s Impact Experience

In line with the school’s mission, Nova SBE’s Impact Experience will produce its first annual Impact Report while engaging its community to foster societal impact.

Each stakeholder plays a role, generating direct and indirect impact, but students are special. Talent development is Nova SBE’s major contribution to society alongside knowledge. Furthermore, the combination of talent and knowledge can actually change the game! Such an important role requires special attention!

These students might become great managers, entrepreneurs but only if they assume their role in solving society’s grand challenges. Below you can see the rationale behind Nova SBE’s Impact Experience reflected in our Impact Ladder.

Impact Ladder of the Nova SBE Impact Experience

Consciousness and engagement are now playing an important role in our students’ journey, which is materialized by the courses they take, the student clubs they choose or the civil society organizations they engage with. These are the footprints that will eventually turn them into Game Changers!

Consciousness through courses

The Global Management Practices (GMP) course is a CEMS course taught by Professor Milton Sousa, in which I had the pleasure to be a Teaching Assistant. Each year, students are challenged to develop innovative business models to address a societal problem in a multi-stakeholder approach.

This semester, Nova SBE’s participation in the ENABLE project inspired the selection of the main topic of the course, wildfires, given that they are a major threat not only to Portuguese forests and people but also to the rest of the world due to climate change. The European project challenged Nova SBE to address this topic as a case of land degradation, developing a case study and promoting a competition, which we ended up doing in the context of the GMP course.

Workshop on the topic “Ruralidade e incêndios — modelos de negócio disruptivos para proteção e valorização dos espaços florestais”

Students developed different solutions that incorporated all the major stakeholders. Central and local government entities, landowners, fire brigades, and the Portuguese Civil Protection were taken into consideration and brought to class to share their testimonials. Taking into account the time the students had to complete this challenge, and the fact that around 80 % were foreigners (CEMS students, from 20 different nationalities, and 23 different schools), I must say that I was very surprised by the projects they delivered. “What a great job!” — was the overall jury consensus. And we are talking about technical specialists such as the Associação Nacional de Bombeiros Profissionais (The National Association of Professional Firefighters), Instituto Superior de Agronomia (The Superior Agronomy Institute), or The Navigator Company.

“The workshop was of particular interest because we had the opportunity to discuss different fronts of the project with many representatives of the stakeholders that we considered essential. Through an organized “debate,” we listened to their diverse perspectives, the limitations that they highlighted, and the efforts we should focus on to guarantee its feasibility on the long-term. It was an eye-opening experience, and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to interact with very enthusiastic people that dedicate their work to such fundamental cause.” Cláudia Monte Gonçalves, Master’s in Management & CEMS MIM Student

Stakeholder’s workshop

The three institutions mentioned above started working with Nova SBE to take this debate into the next stage, and organized a stakeholders’ workshop with the topic “Ruralidade e incêndios — modelos de negócio disruptivos para proteção e valorização dos espaços florestais”. With invited specialists from all over the country, this informal consortium gathered more than 40 people from different backgrounds at Instituto Superior de Agronomia to discuss the problem of wildfires in Portugal. The group tried to understand how the community can go forward with a practical application of the two solutions created by our students and to identify the main hurdles of implementation.

Nova SBE students at

The future

This Tuesday, the ENABLE project had its last conference, hosted by Nova SBE.

Under the title “Engaging businesses and society in landscape restoration”, the European consortium presented its conclusions on the topic. Sustainability and profitability can indeed go hand in hand integrating different points of view, from forest experts to the industry. It has also been a great opportunity for our students to pitch their project, and for the Portuguese informal consortium to assume its ambition for the future.

This great journey clarified a new vision about the role of universities to tackle the grand challenges of our society, and Nova SBE is leading the way.

My final reflection goes to the role of our students in this process. In one word: outstanding! Conscious and engaged! They are now looking for a purpose in their careers, to work for impactful organizations rather than the linear career options they were used to follow when I studied here, 18 years ago.

Our school is leading the way!

Curriculums are changing and Knowledge Centers are producing knowledge that impacts the world! The future is promising with more forums, think tanks, and change!

Thank you all for taking part in this impactful journey!


Professor João Loureiro Rodrigues

João Loureiro Rodrigues is a Teaching Assistant and a Social Impact Coordinator at Nova School of Business & Economics. His work focuses on impact-driven entrepreneurship and innovation, working alongside students and Alumni, with for-profit and nonprofit organizations. He has a bachelor’s, and a Master’s in Economics from Nova SBE, and he previously worked in the banking industry for 12 years. He traded interest rates, credit, and foreign exchange assets. João became a Social Entrepreneur after founding WACT — WE ARE CHANGING TOGETHER in 2007. At WACT, he developed training programs to empower Changemakers, socially engaged individuals with strong entrepreneurial skills.