This year´s master´s students from the International Management and Leadership (IML) program completed two student consultancy projects that had sustainability as an overarching theme. Second–year IML students delivered their well-documented findings to support two multinational businesses, Vodafone and Coca-Cola, with their sustainability strategy. The long-standing collaboration with Vodafone and Coca-Cola on consultancy projects over the years demonstrates our students´ outstanding academic prowess.

The main objective of the student consultancy projects was to conduct empirical research and deliver practical recommendations that would help the two companies meet their sustainability targets. In Coca-Cola´s case, the goal was to assess customers’ attitudes toward reusable packaging and expand the rollout of glass packaging in Austria. Vodafone aimed to gain an in-depth understanding of customers’ attitudes toward refurbished and recycled phones. Both companies relied on our students to provide market assessment, innovative ideas, best practices, and practical recommendations that are easy to implement.

As climate represents the largest area of concern for customers across the world, companies strive to align their strategies with their values to determine meaningful consumption and maximize their positive impact on the planet. This year´s focus ESG strategies for companies like Coca-Cola and Vodafone are recycling and trade-in offers. Coca-Cola´s World Without Waste initiative aims to have at least 25% of all beverages globally across its portfolio of brands sold in refillable/returnable glass or plastic bottles by 2023. Vodafone´s SwitchToGreen campaign, which we previously covered in our LBS StratoFlight project, gives its over 20 million phone-buying customers the option to buy refurbished smartphones or trade in their older model for a discount on the newer model. While these initiatives benefit the environment, they also have economic benefits: recycling helps reduce waste disposal costs and decreases the need for raw materials, and trade-in offers drive customer loyalty.

The LBS IML students helped both companies discern the level of customer awareness, the key drivers that motivate them to take action, the key factors that consumers consider before engaging, and the key barriers that stop consumers from engaging in such initiatives. In both student consultancy projects, coordinated by Dr. Sandra Pauser, M.A., our IML masters got to work in teams, practice critical analysis, assess and evaluate current market trends, gather best practices, and contribute with insightful suggestions to Vodafone´s & Coca-Cola´s Brand and Media teams. LBS IML students compiled their literature review and practical advice in a written report and held two presentations which were officially delivered in front of executives from both cooperation partners. The project partners, as well as the project coordinator, were very satisfied with the overall performance of our students. The following statement by Mag. Katharina Rößl (Frontline Activation Senior Brand Manager at The Coca-Cola Company) underpins the excellent cooperation: “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the students as the project has provided us with a fresh perspective and insights that are going to prove valuable for the launch of the new products. Their energy and enthusiasm have been contagious and inspiring, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from them while also imparting my own knowledge and expertise”.

Mr. Ketan Mohile, Senior Brand Strategist at Vodafone, echoes the same sentiments: “It was a fantastic and enriching experience working with the students at LBS on the Student Consultancy Project. Working on a brief central to our business, the team delivered a sound strategic solution driven by deep primary and secondary research. The students were highly passionate and curious about the topic, and delivered sharp and insightful presentations to bring forth their point of view.

Students had the chance to apply the theoretical concepts they learned in class and offer targeted advice. They also had the opportunity to exercise their project management skills, adjust team dynamics, learn from their interactions, and incorporate feedback from senior professionals, building up their confidence and professional experience: “I am very grateful for this opportunity to work on a real-life project. Socially important challenges, expository empirical results observed on real people, practical implementation of what we learned in theory, a collaboration of internationals under the umbrella of one team, and support from professionals – these are things that this project gave us. This experience can hardly be overvalued and will certainly help us succeed in our career path,” shared Anna Siniaeva, a second-year master´s student.

Through its consultancy projects, Lauder Business School equips students with the practical experience they need to succeed as professionals in their chosen careers.

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