David Laurel pictured (center) teaching his immersive shared value course in the Philippines.
As business leaders adopt pressing social issues like the new global goals into their core profit-making models, more and more the concept of shared value is being implemented in the mainstream. Shared Value Initiative Consulting Affiliate David Laurel knows this well, having worked for shared value pioneer Nestlé, which has completely oriented its business around nutrition, water, and rural development.
Laurel is based in the Philippines, where he is now teaching a course on operationalizing shared value. Meghan Ennes at the Shared Value Initiative recently interviewed Laurel for its new Academic Community to relay his experience on the best methods for teaching shared value.
How did you get involved in shared value work? What drew you to the concept?
I learned about shared value from Nestlé Philippines (where we call it CSV) in 2004, a few years just before Mark Kramer and Michael Porter conceptualized the concept in Harvard Business Review. So I learned to do CSV from the ground up since I was in charge of rural development for the company.
Although we didn't call it CSV then, I learned CSV from the school of "hard knocks," as they say. I was drawn to CSV not only because it was my job, but also I was and still am passionate about poverty reversal. I have witnessed people who with the proper partnering and support have been released from poverty and have evolved their own value chains. This evolution is what drives me.
What’s your connection to the academic community?
My main strategy as a consultant for Shared Value Initiative is to bring CSV to academia by teaching a practitioner's course initially as an elective for third year college students. I initially did two presentations on CSV a few months ago and the response was elating! My class for January had to be pared down to thirty students due to the numerous requests even before the curriculum was submitted.
I have also been approached by student leaders from Ateneo University to introduce CSV to their student organizations composed of four hundred students, mostly from the freshman year. I will also be teaching CSV from the perspective of a practitioner at the Ateneo School of Developmental Studies and it will be the first university that will offer that course to date.
What’s something exciting you are working on related to shared value?
Bringing shared value to the academe is exciting. Bringing the students to recognize CSV from a practitioner's perspective makes it worthwhile because in a few years these students will be running corporations, NGOs, and government – where they will hopefully bring the CSV practice, framework, and values to the workplace.
What is the biggest opportunity to contribute research and dig deeper on shared value?
The best research data will be from the students' experiences in their immersions with ongoing CSV programs. Fifty percent of the course will be actual CSV work outside the classrooms, where students will go through a little of what I experienced when I started CSV.
For example, they will be involved in Nestlé’s Coffee Program where they will learn how Nestlé’s value chain works with coffee farmers. Yes, they will learn to grow and sell coffee too, not to mention learning about metrics. This is with the hope that the students pilot their own CSV later on. It is exciting for us.
My dream is to bring the class to Nestlé’s four CSV programs. In addition to coffee, this includes Business on Wheels, Greening the Supply Chain, and Cut and Sew. The objective is to bring the students inside the value chain through the CSV linkages where they meet the beneficiaries who have become success stories, so they can see firsthand and up close how CSV is operationalized.
They will also get to meet the implementing departments of the company and its factories, to be able to understand how CSV is embedded. The overarching objective is to bring the students to a level of credibility where they will share actual CSV experiences beyond case studies.
Do you find that’s the most effective way to teach shared value?
In my 10 years of explaining CSV to students, interns, and teachers, nothing clarifies CSV better than immersion and participation in a CSV effort. Nothing makes the storytelling more believable than the students themselves showing videos of their field experiences and interviews with employees and beneficiaries.
The CSV Practitioner's course as an elective is only the beginning. I see the elective bloom into a minor field of specialization within two to three years.
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