oikos Alum Get-together in London

On 16th of January the oikos alum will meet in London for a dinner and drinks. Save the date for the get-together!

Date: Friday the 16th January 2015

Time: 7:30pm

Place: Thiwanya Thai Restaurant, 10 Gate Street, Holborn, London WC2A 3HP (http://thiwanya.co.uk) followed by drinks at the Ship Tavern next door.

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oikos International

posted December 11, 2014

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oikos Newsletter December 2014

Even though the streets are covered with snow and your hands feel numb, everyone looks forward to December. There’s so much to start going over the empty calendar slots of 2015 with everything the new year has to offer.  The oikos Young Scholars Entrepreneurship Academy in Weggis, the Winter School in Witten, Spring Meeting in London and the Asia Meet in New Delhi! Before you fast forward to 2015 here’s some news from the glorious event of November. More than 120 enthusiastic and driven participants from 18 countries came together at the FutureLab 2014 followed by the oikos Conference. In this newsletter we are giving you the itsy bitsy bits of everything that unfolded at the FutureLab 2014. Furthermore, there was the Presidents’ Meeting where steps were taken for the oikos community. We also welcome new full chapters and the new Executive Board for 2015. Read more

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oikos International

posted December 6, 2014

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Interview with Liudmila Chambers

Former oikos PhD Fellow, Liudmila Chambers, has won the Best Management Thesis Award 2014 from the University of St. Gallen. The oikos Newsteam has interviewed her to celebrate her achievement and discuss her learnings. 

How would you describe yourself as a person? What are your drives and passions? 

It is probably not surprising that the first thing that came to my mind when I was thinking how to describe myself is my strong belief that the nature is too beautiful and people are too valuable to destroy them with irresponsible businesses practices. I truly believe that an alternative approach to business is possible and that it is our responsibility to find it. So I would describe myself as an engaged researcher and teacher who is passionate about sustainability and who hopes to make a difference through my scholarship.

Can you recollect your first interaction with oikos? How has your relationship evolved and how do you feel about it? 

I joined oikos in 2009 as an oikos PhD fellow, which is a 3-year programme to conduct research on a sustainability-related topic. As part of this fellowship, I was also managing oikos Case Programme. The 3 years that I spent with oikos were amazing and I feel that I was really lucky to have had this opportunity.

How has your association with oikos benefitted you on the professional front? 

One of the features of the oikos PhD Fellowship is a combination of research and practice. It is often difficult to maintain focus on and commitment for a project that lasts 3 years (or potentially even longer as in the case of most PhD programmes), so it was great to have an opportunity to switch between academic research and hands-on management experience while running oikos Case Programme.

How integral is teaching as a facet of your personality? What do you enjoy most about teaching? 

I really enjoy interaction with my students and their inquisitive questions. It is only natural that I don’t always have answers as there are always limits to our knowledge. Some of these questions make me think about those aspects that I wouldn’t otherwise have thought about. For instance, the course that I am doing now is structured in a way that it answers one particular question that a student asked me last semester and I didn’t have a well defined answer.

As a teacher and a proponent of sustainability, what would be your message to the current as well as the future generations of students?

Stay positive and keep on asking questions. As the University of Bath, we aim to help our students develop critical skills, rather than simply learn something by heart. However, by doing this we run the risk of turning students into cold-hearted sceptics, which isn’t very helpful for those who work in the field of sustainability. In our field, we need bold, innovative solutions, so stay positive and inquisitive. Only by staying positive one can make a difference.

 Tell us a bit about the PhD topic and the award too. 

In my PhD I looked at sustainable entrepreneurial businesses and their growth strategies. One of the problems associated with business growth is that it often results in mission drift, or in other words a refocus of attention from social or environmental mission to profit generation. I was intrigued to identify business models that help sustainable businesses avoid mission drift.

It was a real surprise but also a real honour to receive an award for this research. It was a prize for the best dissertation in management studies granted by the Peter Werhahn Foundation.

What are your future endeavors in association with your PhD topic? 

Over the next year I will be trying to publish my PhD dissertation in academic journals as a series of articles.

Your message for the oikees. 

Stay positive!

Interview by Nimisha Ghorpade and Saurav Kumar Das

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oikos International

posted December 5, 2014

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Alumni Dinner in Paris

Are you in Paris on 16th of December? Join the oikos Alumni for a evening to remember with great food, great talks and great people. The event will start at 8pm at Gentle Gourmet Café (24 Boulevard de la bastille, 75012 Paris).

The goal of this gathering is to meet each other, to spend time together and to strengthen the oikos alumni network. It would be a great opportunity for you both at a professional and personal level, so if you are an alum, whatever chapter you are coming from, you are more than welcome to join this meeting!

Please contact Clémentine Robert for more information.

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oikos International

posted December 4, 2014

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oikos Presidents’ Meeting 2014

oikos Presidents from more than 30 oikos Chapters trickled into the scenic and serene town of St. Gallen on Friday 7th November. The first day kicked-off with an ice-breaking session. The participants had a ball getting to know each other through a series of fun-filled activities. Post the ice-breakers, oikos International Presidents, Lenka Parkanova and Anita Negri, charted out a roadmap for the Presidents’ Meeting portraying the Meeting’s journey as one going from sensing to learning and sharing and culminating in actions.

After lunch, presidents were confronted with a session named “What Really Matters…”. Presidents highlighted a multitude of issues that concern them from economic thinking to inclusive development. This activity led them to reflect on how these issues can be addressed.  An enriching activity on sustainable leadership orchestrated by Claude Siegenthaler followed.  Claude dons several hats including that of oikos Board of Trustee member. This session encouraged teams of participants to come up with a game that would project their vision of oikos and sustainability. Subsequently, Claude led a session which encouraged presidents to reflect on themselves as leaders.  This proved to be a powerful experiment to realize the power of reflection and sharing reflections.

The second day started with an intriguing quiz on oikos followed by a session showing presidents how to efficiently communicate the impact of their projects. The presidents then took an impact mapping exercise which enabled them to share the impact of successfully implemented chapter projects. These were allocated to five identified project domains including education, finance and economics. The evening was devoted to hands-on activities including a sublime experience of cooking an African dinner, learning new dance forms and a freewheeling excursion into St. Gallen.

The final day was all about action right from the word ‘go’. Presidents were given the responsibility to prepare and hold an introductory speech at the upcoming FutureLab. The action reached a crescendo as the participants weaved a story encompassing the history and vision of oikos and how we can endeavor to make an impactful difference in the communities that we serve. Next on the agenda were a series of workshops on fundraising, the oikos website, establishing an oikos alumni network and succession planning. These helped the presidents gain insights into managing their chapters effectively. Regional meetings also took place discussing the scope of further enhancing cooperation and the impact of chapter activities. A final reflection brought the day to its conclusion. The curtains were officially drawn on the Presidents’ Meeting with an eager anticipation of the Legislative Meeting and the FutureLab which would be the setting for the presidents to broadcast their vision to all the enthusiastic participants.

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We take the opportunity to share what few of the participants for the Presidents’ Meeting had to say about their experience:

“I think the three days in St. Gallen really created a bond between the presidents/representatives and I feel part of a strong community. I have also learnt that there are certain cultural differences between us, for example, German and British chapters and I realized a greater need to adapt our oikos chapter-culture to the culture of St. Andrews. Lastly I learned (again) to listen.”Renée Horster, St. Andrews (Scotland) 
“My learnings were manifold including how to solve problem which appear in our chapters, how to talk about it, and recruit new members and what was really important was to know that we have alumni who can guide & help us. Through talks I got to know different opinions, experiences from fellow chapter presidents who came from four continents. To put it in a nutshell, my experience was simply amazing!”, Tomasz Węgrzyn, Opole (Poland) 

“The President’s meeting has only reinforced this feeling of belongingness that I have to oikos and its goals.” – Madhumitha Sridharudu, Kolkata (India)

Article written by Saurav Kumar Das

Pictures by Hubert Pylinski

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oikos International

posted December 2, 2014

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FutureLab 2014 – Where ideas are born

The oikos FutureLab 2014 saw more than 120 participants from 18 countries, belonging to diverse fields and backgrounds gather at a unique forum for idealization and impact. The participants included not just students but oikos alumni, NGO representatives, top-notch faculty members and an extensive array of partners who support our initiatives.

The FutureLab kicked-off with a session entitled “Building the Bridge”. The former President, Lenka Parkanova, and current President, Anita Negri, shared their journeys and led chapter presidents to collectively share oikos’ current impact and aspirations. In this process chapter presidents created the first building blocks of our bridge towards sustainability in economics and management. This bridge would later also link all the Learning Circles and offer a holistic perspective of oikos. By inviting the participants to start building our bridge towards sustainability in economics and management, chapter presidents handed over the floor to the seven Learning Circles (Economics, Finance, Leadership, Management, Energy, Fashion/Supply Chain and Entrepreneurship). Every Learning Circle Manager introduced their Learning Circle’s landscape for the participants to understand the key challenges in their explored field.


Under the able guidance of expert moderators and advisors, the first Learning Circle workshop sessions were primarily devoted to laying the foundations and drafting a framework to tackle the challenges in the respective spheres. Subsequently, the participants had the opportunity to witness a riveting leadership talk by Uwe Lübbermann, founder of Premium-Cola. Through his talk, Uwe inspired the audience with his unique entrepreneurial journey that created a paradigm shift from the traditional cola business model. The critical success factor of Uwe’s business model is the power of human relationships which, he believes, is more important than the business acumen.  The audience was left truly inspired by his vision as the theater echoed with rapturous applause. Uwe emerged as a role model for aspiring social entrepreneurs.
FutureLab 2014

The second day began with the “Impact Walk” during which participants were asked to walk in pairs from their accommodation to the conference venue whilst exploring and exchanging their individual connections to sustainability. Subsequently, through a brief activity on self-reflection, participants were invited to reflect upon the challenges they face, their aspirations for the future and actions that would fructify their vision for the oikos community. Yuan Yang, co-founder of Rethinking Economics, and Marloes Nicholls, researcher at Meteos, then took the stage. These two dynamic change makers presented their insights on strategies to campaign for sustainability. The discourse touched upon campaigning techniques, the need and utility of organizing people and the key strategies for change. The second Learning Circle workshop sessions were more action-oriented as the participants crystallized their novel approaches to tackle the identified challenges. Advanced concepts were explored and, based on road-maps, future actions were drafted.

10425123_731134843631283_7257111249767849200_nThe “Impact Fair” showcased a myriad of innovative and impactful projects by participants from across the world. Through exchange of ideas, this session offered the scope of replicating projects by other chapters. The final session of the FutureLab 2014 culminated with all the Learning Circles coming forward to present their takeaways from the workshops and contributing to build our bridge. Amongst others, the takeaways included an understanding of financial modeling for photovoltaic projects, enhanced interest in the topic of De-growth and the scope of promoting sustainability in finance as a potential topic to write ones thesis on. As the curtains were drawn on the FutureLab, participants were encouraged to reflect upon how they intended to utilize the knowledge they gained at the FutureLab to take action, take forth their Learning Circles, bring vitality to the oikos community and facilitate their future endeavors to be champions of sustainability.

Ucha Khmaladze from Tbilisi (Georgia) shared his experiences saying, “I learned the ways of solving the most common problems in oikos chapters. The FutureLab was a great chance for everyone to get new skills and knowledge. The Learning circles were effective, this type of working was new for me and also the topic of de-growth was new. Nowadays, I try to find more and more information about de-growth.”

“The most interesting part of FutureLab for me was the leadership talk by Uwe. The talk highlighted the important facet of “Mutual respect” in business relations. I was inspired by his model that had no dependency relations, but put all stakeholders at the same pedestal. The key takeaway from the Finance Learning Circle was the focus on impact investment. The discussion about ESG criteria in pricing was really interesting and offered insights into a new way to value social and environmental dimensions in the pricing strategies of companies”, shares Robin Wengi, Lausanne (Switzerland).

Jonas Friedrich, an integral member of the ‘Dream Team’, who organized the FutureLab had several experiences worth sharing. Crystallizing his thoughts, he says, “One of my key realizations was that making mistakes is not that bad.  If you are in a leadership position, things go wrong at times. But if you are ready to celebrate mistakes, then they provide you with a special learning. And if you share that with your collaborators then they will even be part of that learning process. Leadership does not mean to run in the front but rather to support what needs to happen from the back – holding the space, supporting, serving. Sustainability is about the listening! The more we practice listening to our social and ecological surrounding the better we can behave in a respectful way.”

Article written by Saurav Kumar Das

Photos by Stürmer Foto

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oikos International

posted December 2, 2014

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