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Leadership for positive impact

Executive Leadership Retreat

Business Sustainability, Your role and how to drive change to embed strategy

Thu 23rd May 2013 - Sun 26th May 2013

You are invited to be part of a senior level sustainability executive development retreat with a difference.

These two annual, exclusive, invitation-only events are specifically designed to help you develop your career and role in sustainable enterprise to its full potential. You will gain new techniques to help your company seize the opportunities of being a sustainable and responsible business.

These prestigious retreats are jointly organised between The European Sustainability Academy (ESA) and Stakeholder Intelligence. Numbers are strictly limited to 20 per retreat.

"This retreat will give you what so many fail to offer: A real business and professional development focused agenda".” Richard Ellis, Group Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Alliance Boots

“"This is exactly the kind of business retreat that's needed: Rigourous, intimate, reflective and dynamic"” Sean Ansett, Founder, At Stake Advisors and former Corporate Responsibility Director, Burberry.

Four key aims of this programme

  1. You will develop new awareness about successfully driving sustainability change in business.
  2. You will learn new skills to engage people in operational sustainability objectives.
  3. You will develop your abilities to get buy-in from boards and CEOs in sustainability strategy.
  4. You will gain an international support network and senior business contacts network that will prove invaluable as your career develops further.

The programme has been designed specifically for Chief Sustainability Officers, Heads of Corporate Responsibility (CR) and Sustainability and others specifically leading CR/sustainability in large companies. This opportunity is only available to executives leading sustainability change. No consultants, NGOs, Academics or Media attendees are invited to participate.

You manage your own learning experience: The programme has been specially designed so that participants can absorb the level of learning and development that they want/need. This may be a transformational process or more tactical learning. Participants will shape the agenda to suit their own needs.

Expert facilitators and peer group learning will guide you towards the learning experience which is most relevant and of most value to you.

You will benefit from:

  • Being inspired to lead transformational change effectively
  • Understanding new ways to communicate strategy for sustainable business so that it is understood and enacted by people across your business
  • Learning new approaches to strategic relationships through matching sense-making and sense-giving communication processes. Recognising disconnect in communications as a barrier to change
  • Understanding how to engage people to enact sustainability objectives in daily roles
  • Driving a culture of shared interpretation and shared meaning to become a more successful business


Programme Details

The full learning process is:

  • Pre- retreat online 1:1 mentoring activity to clarify your objectives and expected outcomes from the retreat
  • Full immersion, experiential four day peer group, holistic learning at ESA Crete
  • Practical action plan, commitment to take back new learning to your business
  • Follow up online mentoring and peer network to support implementation of new approaches to your business


You can download the course brochure (pdf download approx 900k).


Guests arrive at Chania or Heraklion airport (Crete) and transferred to their luxury accommodation to settle in.

Evening: Formal welcome dinner at ESA.


9.00 am Start


  • Setting objectives and sharing understanding of why are we all here
  • Getting the jargon aligned: Definitions and getting on the same page
  • Identifying the reality of where your company is in terms of sustainable business strategy
  • Your role as the sustainability director: Sphere of influence, strategy and you as a change catalyst

Me: Sustainable Self

  • Burn out: How do we avoid it?
  • Understand your different and successful choices to become a sustainable business catalyst
  • Define where you are and the vision of where you want to be: Learn from each other

My Sustainable Company

  • What is your organisation's personality: What would it sound like if you gave it a voice?
  • Mapping the personality of your organisation.
  • Identifying the personalities in your organisation: How to recognise the barriers and the enablers for embedding sustainable business strategy
  • How do you know where you are?
  • Who defines the status and reputation of your company: Stakeholders

Driving Change: Choosing the right tactics

  • How change happens: Creating the catalyst
  • Planning for change
  • Communicating the business case for change to different audiences
  • Choice of communications methods

Business unit heads & colleagues

  • Skill-set development: How to train and empower your colleagues
  • Who are the barriers, who are the enablers?
  • Why this matters for their careers

Lunch: ESA working lunch

My board

  • Persuading upwards
  • Tactics for board and senior management engagement
  • Two way board mentoring
  • Change management tactics: Being comfortable to uncomfortable and back again
  • Develop your own engagement plans
  • Dealing with conflict
  • Engaging the non-executives

Afternoon: Consolidation of the sessions so far

  • Your leadership relationship with your organisation
  • The art of sense-making and sense-giving: New skills to understand communication barriers and how to overcome them.

Evening: Working dinner/ buffet style at ESA. Continue to apply sense-making and interpretation framework to business processes and create a personal deliverable action plan


9.00 am Start This day shifts to a focus on operationalising business sustainability strategy.

Strategy development

  • Driving strategy development
  • Lessons from failure
  • Ways of driving change: Methods that work
  • Why we fail: sharing stories and case studies
  • Where are the disconnects between publicised sustainable business aspirations and the real organisational identity and culture?
  • How are you representing the sustainable business strategy? Are you tuned in, and are your communications aligned with the strategy?
  • Are people following you… are they engaged and inspired by you?

Break-out group exercise: Scoping the organisational issues: An interactive exercise to scope the material issues of engaging people to act, communications and organisational cultural triggers for shared understanding and shared action of sustainable business objectives.

Lunch: ESA working lunch

Afternoon: Report back and plenary on the scoping activity

Saturday night – Local typical Cretan social event


Visit to 3 examples of Eco- Entrepreneurship

Wrap up session: Conducted at Biolea Cold Press, Organic Olive Oil board room

  • Consolidation of learning
  • Brainstorm session with Biolea CEO: Live sustainable business, problem solving surgery
  • Commitment to continuous action. Declaration of what you are going to do next

Sunday evening depart or transfer to local hotel for optional extended stay.

The programme directors are Sharon Jackson, Founder and Director of ESA, and Toby Webb, Founder of Stakeholder Intelligence and Ethical Corporation.

Sharon has 12 years experience of designing and delivering executive leadership retreats around the world including Tasmania, Shanghai and Chamonix and is a lecturer in Sustainable Business at Cranfield School of Management.

Toby has 12 years' experience in leading Ethical Corporation from a start-up to a successful multi-million pound business. He lectures at the University of London's Birkbeck College and has trained and briefed boards, heads of CR and managers in many large companies around the world on sustainability through his other company, Stakeholder Intelligence.

Examples of sustainable business excellence will be presented by guest speakers, Founder and Vice President Mr. Nikos Koutsianas and Business Development Director Mr. Tasos Choukalas from internationally successful, Athens based, Greek natural cosmetics company Apivita.

Host your event at ESA     

Powered only by Cretan sunshine, ESA is a beautiful building rooted in the earth amongst ancient rocks and olive trees, surrounded by nature. Its construction is a leading example of sustainability in practice. ESA is an experiential and creative place where people feel enlivened, uplifted and creative. Great living and great learning happen at ESA. A perfect setting for:

Leading sustainable enterprise

Our passion is contributing towards co-created sustainable enterprise for positive impact on communities and the natural environment on a global scale. Leadership and entrepreneur issues of adaptation, resilience, authenticity, sustainable-self, values connected sense-making and the continued emancipation of women (WISE) to take up more leadership roles in the world are at the core of the ESA sustainability experience.

Make sense of sustainability

Crete is the sustainable destination of the past and of the future.

Home of the Minoans, one of the earliest civilisations on earth, nestled between Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Crete is rich with mythology, gastronomy, music, art and agriculture. You can have your own authentic experience of a sustainable lifestyle and feel first-hand the strong connection between nature and community.