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Talking to Alessandra Ira

Alessandra Ira, alumna of the CAS in Corporate Responsibility 2020, is an independent consultant in sustainable leadership transformation in the digital age.

In what professional situation did you get the idea of considering further education in the field of corporate responsibility?

Basically, I have been involved in corporate responsibility for many years, mainly from a personal perspective. How companies behave towards employees, society, and the environment – and the effects – have always been of considerable interest to me. In my long banking career, these issues were always overlooked in my position as a marketing specialist. The matter came to a head when I decided to become professionally involved in corporate responsibility. With my new expertise, I want to advise and support companies that strive to act responsibly and sustainably in their broader contexts.

Why did you choose the CAS in Corporate Responsibility program at the ZHAW School of Management and Law?

The varied and interesting teaching program with lecturers from different areas of corporate responsibility initially attracted me. Furthermore, the wide range of academic and practical courses with experts from business and consulting practice is exactly what matters to me. I was looking for a dynamic program mix where I would be taught sound theory coupled with specific examples of practical application. I should add that there are hardly any comparable CAS courses in corporate responsibility with such a comprehensive range as those offered by the ZHAW School of Management and Law.

“Within my practical work, the the planning of a further research project arose on the issue of  sustainable leadership in the digital age.”

Alessandra Ira

Why is the program worthwhile? What aspects did you appreciate most?

For me, the course is 100 percent worth the investment. I have been able to broaden my horizon for social and environmental issues and learned how corporate responsibility can be systematically integrated into the management approach of an organization. It is also very inspiring to meet like-minded people who almost all share the same aims of contributing something good towards a better world.

What were the classes like?

The participants were extremely broad-minded, engaging, and welcoming. After the presentations, speakers and students were open to questions and discussions. I felt very much at home there. During the team exercises, we always had lively conversations and a great exchange of know-how. We laughed together a lot too. At this point, I would like to emphasize that the organization of the teaching program – both on-site and remote – was always very competent and supportive. Even when we switched to online classes during the lockdown, the program manager was always present to guide us smoothly through the day. I was amazed at how well everything turned out.

The CAS program finishes with a written practical paper. What did you get out of this time-consuming part of the study program?

I can consider myself lucky because the planning of a further research project arose within my professional framework. When I met with my supervisor, Dr. Ina-Maria Walthert (research associate at the Center for Corporate Responsibility at the ZHAW School of Management and Law), we quickly found some common ground that inspired us to tackle a research project on the issue of “Sustainable Leadership in the Digital Age.” For the co-development of the research project, we were able to win over two outstanding members of Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration, Dr. Claude Meier (Head of Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning) and Dr. Urs Jäckli (Head of MSc in Business Administration), as well as a first-class HR specialist (Professor of Leadership and Human Resources Management) from Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences. Through regular video conferences, we could exchange our knowledge and experience to develop and work on the upcoming research project. Besides this, I built up an entirely new network of contacts through the research project, which is valuable for my future professional role in the field of corporate responsibility.

Would you recommend the CAS in Corporate Responsibility program at the ZHAW School of Management and Law to others?

Definitely. For a start, the course is perfect for beginners because it provides a broad basic knowledge of corporate responsibility management and is very hands-on. At the same time, it is also ideally suited to corporate responsibility specialists who want to understand the connections between corporate success and sustainable management and identify the interfaces of corporate responsibility in their companies. After all, sustainability is a interdisciplinary issue that affects many different areas of a business operation.

CAS Corporate Responsibility

The CAS in Corporate Responsibility provides participants with the tools they need to embed corporate responsibility and sustainability management as a strategic goal and thereby contribute to the success of a company. Specialists teach the content of this program with a balanced mix of current concepts and instruments as well as practical examples.