Sustainable business practices: an interview with Carolina Codina

July 1, 2016

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Published in General News

Carolina Codina is a graduate of the Master of Environmental Managementprogram at the School of Management at the Universidad de los Andes. With a degree in business administration from ESERP Business School in Madrid,for the past seven years she has been the managing director of the Wok restaurant chain here in Colombia, nationally recognized for itscommitment to environmental and social responsibility. Carolina opted to dothe Master’s program with her husband, meaning that both understood the other’s tight schedule and need to study in the evenings after arriving home from work. Today, one year after completing the program, Carolina opened up to us about how the Master’s programimpacted her work and life.

One of the many responsibilities that Carolina jugglesis defining the strategic road map for Wok in terms of sustainability, ensuring that all areas of the company reflect the spirit of these policies. According to Carolina, one of the biggest challenges for companies today is determining how to incorporate sustainability in business practices so that it is central to all strategies. Her interest in this subject was what led Carolina to pursue the Master of Environmental Management.

Although Carolina’s two and a half years of study at Uniandes were characterized by sacrifices and grueling work to meet the high academic standards, Carolina credits the Master’s program with her new perspective of the world around her. “Managers usually focus on maximizing profits in an organization. This Master’s program steps in to broaden that perspective and show that it’s not about simply maximizing profits, but rather generating positive impacts on the environment and society. Wok is a company that is oriented toward that ethos. "Today, Carolina’s philosophy is that there are various ways of doing business that move beyond solely seeking to increase profitability for investors, instead focusing on how to create shared value across the entire chain.

This way of thinking about business guides a number of strategic programs at Wok. One such program that Carolina mentioned to usis the Cleaner Production program, which reviews the processes of all areas to reduce waste and promote more efficient stewardship of electricity, gas, and water. Another program oversees Wok’s relationship with its suppliers, whether of fish, agricultural products,or, to a lesser extent, beef. The aim is to ensure a supply that has a low impact in terms of the environment and fairer working conditions. Increased awareness of the end consumeris also an issue that is important to Carolina: "I’ve learned the importance of consumer awareness about where their food came from.”

How did doing this master have an impact on her personal life?

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What would she say to encourage someone who is considering doing the master?

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