Many people are passionate about social and environmental issues and sustainable business practices, but only a relative few are making a career with that passion. With the BCIT Advanced Diploma in Sustainable Business Leadership (SBL), the only program of its kind in BC, you can create a job path that’s fulfilling and rewarding for you, your community, and the planet. SBL students can study full-time and complete the Advanced Diploma in only 10 months with a cohort or take the part-time option for more flexibility.
Fall 2021 delivery mode: in person
- This program will be delivered in person for the fall semester.
- We have put measures in place for your safety and well-being, ensuring that all safety protocols are addressed. Please see the BCIT COVID-19 page for details on the procedures that have been implemented.
Your education is our priority and we will continue to deliver the applied instruction, collaborative experience, and industry connections that you expect from BCIT.
About the program
Employers value BCIT’s applied, job-ready approach to education and training. It’s the BCIT advantage that sets our graduates apart. In only 10 months, 2 evenings a week, you’ll train in the most up-to-date practices and skills necessary to help organizations in any industry create a better world through their strategy and operations. For more flexibility, you can also study part-time and earn your credential at your own pace.
- Cohort: study and network with a cohort of aspiring sustainable business leaders
- Length: complete an accelerated, intensive advanced diploma in only 10 months, 2 evenings a week
- Industry experience: gain hands-on consulting experience by completing a 24-week consulting capstone project with an industry client
- Small class sizes: receive individual attention
- Industry instructors: benefit from the real-world experience of sustainability practitioners
Find out more about the courses, focus, and opportunities available with your Advanced Diploma in Sustainable Business Leadership on the Program Details page.
Connections to BCIT’s Bachelor of Business Administration
If you have a BCIT diploma from one of the listed programs and have been accepted into the BCIT Bachelor of Business Administration degree, you can use Sustainable Business Leadership courses to meet your Bachelor of Business Administration elective requirements [PDF]. You can use these courses towards your BBA elective requirements as well as the Advanced Diploma in Sustainable Business Leadership.
If you have a degree or diploma from another institution, depending on your previous credential, courses from the Advanced Diploma in Sustainable Business Leadership could be used to gain entry into the BCIT Bachelor of Business Administration program or to fulfill the BBA elective requirements. You can arrange for a pre-entry assessment by sending an email to the BBA department.
Who should apply for the Advanced Diploma in Sustainable Business Leadership?
This program is often most valuable to students who:
- Already have a diploma or degree
- Are passionate about social and environmental issues
- Hope to become a leader in sustainability
- Want to help business generate social and environmental value
- Are working limited hours and have time to commit to an intensive, cohort-based program (for a more flexible option, check out our part-time program)
If this sounds like you, visit Entrance Requirements to apply today.
What grads can do
With our focus on sustainability principles and practical application, BCIT Sustainable Business Leadership graduates can find opportunities in diverse companies, government organizations, and not-for-profits as sustainability managers, operations analysts, supply chain coordinators, and many other roles, or start their own businesses and work as sustainability consultants.
Learn more about the career opportunities open to graduates on the Graduating and Jobs page.
The Advanced Diploma in Sustainable Business Leadership provides opportunities for individuals who have completed a diploma or degree at a recognized post-secondary institution, or have equivalent professional experience, and wish to further their education.
Candidates should apply to this program after completing or when nearing completion of their diploma or degree or after completing at least five years of equivalent professional experience.
If you have already completed BCIT’s Advanced Certificate in Sustainable Business Leadership, please see the Advanced Placement page to apply for direct entry.
Costs & Supplies
Bring your own device
Most courses and programs in the School of Business + Media are BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Please ensure you bring a laptop to every class. Plug-in outlets will be provided at most stations in classrooms, but not in all classrooms, so please ensure you have at least 2 hours of battery life available at the beginning of each class. Check the following recommended computer requirements prior to the start of class. If a program or course does not require you to provide your own device, that information will be provided by your instructor or indicated in the course outline.
For online classes, it is important you have a stable and consistent internet connection to access course content.
As an advanced diploma, the full-time Sustainable Business Leadership program starts at Level 5. Courses are divided into the following terms:
- Fall – Foundations: September to December (15 weeks)
- Winter – Strategy: January to March (12 weeks)
- Spring – Operations: April to June (12 weeks)
Labs and tutorials provide students with opportunities to apply theoretical knowledge and practice technical skills required by industry. Students are exposed to real-world sustainability issues throughout their coursework, culminating in a business consulting project. During this capstone project, students work with a faculty advisor and an industry sponsor to apply what they’ve learned in the program to industry situations.
In BCIT’s Advanced Diploma in Sustainable Business Leadership, you’ll study the most current issues in sustainability and participate in a two-term business consulting project for practical experience.
This credential is the only program in British Columbia that is purely focused on sustainable business leadership. By adding this advanced diploma to your pre-existing education and/or industry experience (see Entrance Requirements), you’ll prepare to become a leader in any number of industries to champion the responsible use of our resources.
As a Sustainable Business Leadership student, you will learn and practice how to:
- Identify and promote sustainability principles in business strategy and operations.
- Select and apply sustainable business models and best practices that ensure social equity, respect planetary boundaries, and enable economic viability.
- Practice the active values of a sustainable business leader.
- Advocate for social and environmental governance principles in business policies and procedures.
- Design sustainable business processes and measure their effectiveness.
- Form and manage multidisciplinary teams to implement sustainable business practices.
- Choose and execute communication strategies appropriate to audience, purpose, and context to advocate for sustainability.
- Take a systems approach to solving sustainability challenges.
Graduating & Jobs
In the 21st century, successful business generates value for all stakeholders, not only shareholders. BCIT’s Advanced Diploma in Sustainable Business Leadership prepares graduates to help organizations in any industry create a better world through their strategy and operations.
SBL graduates offer potential employers a specialized skillset that few employees have and is increasingly required by all organizations to address growing investor, citizen, and customer demands for social and environmental responsibility.
The “sustainability mindset” is sought after in roles across organizations. No matter the position you end up in, you will be prepared to advocate for and implement sustainable practices. Some specific job titles and opportunities include:
- Sustainability Manager
- Independent Sustainability Consultant
- Climate Energy Strategist
- Operations Manager
- Project Manager
- Production Analyst
- Distribution Coordinator
- Communications Specialist
- Supply Chain Analyst
- Investor Relations Coordinator
Faculty, Advisors & Staff
In the Sustainable Business Leadership program, you will learn from a diverse group of industry experts who introduce you to the world of sustainable business leadership through course content, applied projects, and guest speakers.
Rosemary has over 20 years’ experience catalyzing sustainable solutions with a particular emphasis on collaboration across business, government and community. Since 2013, she has been catalyzing the transition to a circular economy with a focus on upstream innovations that design out waste and foster lasting prosperity. Rosemary is the Project Director of the Share Reuse Repair Initiative (SRRI). She brings community, business and government together to identify and advance cultural, policy and market shifts in order to foster a vibrant culture and economy of sharing, reuse and repair. Rosemary is the Senior Associate with Vancouver-based non-profit One Earth. She provides consulting, strategic advice and research concerning business and organizational transition to operating within planetary boundaries including, but not limited to, circular business models.
Andrea is passionate in her belief that businesses have a key role to play in creating a socially just and environmentally sustainable future. Following her passion for marrying business with social change, Andrea joined Vancity in 2003 working on climate change strategy and developing the organization’s inaugural Carbon Neutral plan. As the Director of Community Leadership Strategy, she then led a team of sustainability professionals to develop strategies and programs focused on social enterprise, poverty alleviation, climate change and accountability reporting. As Director, Member and Community Insights she worked with researchers, analysts, and data scientists to uncover insights to drive innovation and impact. Prior to Vancity, Andrea was part of Mountain Equipment Co-op’s first social and environmental responsibility team, focusing on community programs and strategic partnerships. Co-founder of Fairware, a purpose driven promotional products company. A life-long advocate of co-operatives, Andrea is delighted to be on community secondment from Vancity, currently serving as the Executive Director of the BC Co-operative Association.
Imran Jiwa holds a CPA designation, which he obtained with KPMG in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications group. For six years, he advised clients with revenues ranging from $10 million to $2 billion and financial institutions managing over $20 billion in assets. Working at the nexus of sustainability and business, he advised companies on their ability to respond to climate change, impact and financial reporting, and impact investing strategies.
Tessa Jordan, PhD
Tessa Jordan, PhD is the Program Head for BCIT’s Sustainable Business Leadership Advanced Diploma and Faculty in BCIT’s Communication Department. As an educator, Tessa specializes in business communications and purpose-driven business, specifically focusing on planetary boundaries, social equity, and reconciliation as the foundations for a functioning economy. As a researcher, Tessa studies the role of art and culture in social and political movements. Her book Feminist Acts: Branching Out Magazine and the Making of Canadian Feminism was published by the University of Alberta Press in 2019.
Tracey Kliesch is a Business Readiness Partner at Vancity. Her work focuses on change management through learning and process improvements to bring large, strategic and complex projects to life. Tracey has a long history at Vancity but did take two years off to lead CCEC Credit Union as their General Manager and CEO. Tracey has worked internationally with credit unions to promote and strengthen the co-operative model and co-operative movement. She holds a Master’s degree in Co-operative and Credit Union Management from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. Outside of work, Tracey sits on the board of the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada, the Credit Union Foundation of BC and the Squamish Montessori Society. She is a co-founder of Canada DE, a credit union development education program that brings credit union professionals from around the world to Canada annually.
Debbie Motilewa, PhD
Debbie Motilewa, PhD has taught and practiced the principles of management, organizational behaviour, and sustainable business for the past nine years across three continents: North America, Africa, and Europe. At 25, she was the youngest PhD graduate from Covenant University, Africa’s most prestigious University. Debbie is very keen on harnessing the opportunities created when there is a solid partnership between the classroom and the industry. In the start-up world, she is the chief executive officer of two social enterprises: The VolunteerNG and Afro Hub Community. They both focus on creating sustainable communities (in line with SDG Goals 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, and 11). The VolunteerNG has partnered with over 70 volunteers, mentored over 800 young adults, and is sponsoring 30 kids through elementary and high school. In the research world, Debbie writes peer-reviewed articles and makes contributions on corporate social responsibility, business sustainability, and human capital development. She has over 30 published articles and has contributed to three academic books. She is the author of “SMART Goals: Making habits work for you” and is currently working on her second book on sustainable business management.
Alan Shapiro is a sustainability professional and science communication specialist whose work focuses on enabling better capacity, planning, and dialogue around water and environmental issues. Alan runs an independent consultancy dedicated to supporting purpose-driven organizations on water, environmental, and sustainability challenges. He also advises water and cleantech entrepreneurs and ventures through the Toronto-based Climate Ventures: Earth Tech accelerator. Alan holds a MSc in Environmental Engineering from Columbia University and a BSc in Environmental Earth Science from the University of Alberta. You can find Alan on Twitter at @watercomm.
Richard Vurdela is Program Head and Faculty at the BCIT School of Business, Business Operations Management Program and has taught into the Sustainable Business Leadership Program since its inception. Richard has 25 years of experience teaching at both an undergraduate and graduate level. He draws on a 30-year career in operations in a range of market sectors and has diverse experience in quality management, project management and business improvement initiatives across Canada. He holds a Bachelors of Applied Science and an MBA. Richard is a Senior Member of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and a Past Chair of the Vancouver Section. He is a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with the Project Management Institute.
Ivy Wan is a Manager in KPMG’s Sustainability Services group. She is a Chartered Professional Accountant that brings together her background in business and her passion for sustainability to advise clients on measuring and managing their climate impacts. Ivy works on a range of sustainability-related services including measurement and reporting, strategy, assurance, ESG and climate risk identification, materiality assessments and greenhouse gas emissions estimates and verifications. Ivy has experience performing financial and non-financial assurance for various companies based in Canada and internationally. Ivy holds a Masters in Professional Accounting from the University of Saskatchewan and a Bachelors of Commerce in Accounting from University of British Columbia.
Jason Young is Faculty at the BCIT School of Business + Media, Business Operations Management Program. With over 18 years experience working in various manufacturing organizations both in house and as a consultant, Jason specializes in helping organizations reduce waste in all of its forms. Never interested in managing “the old fashioned way,” Jason focuses on embedding continuous improvement in organizations. What gives Jason the most joy is the ability to help people rise to the next challenge and their next career move, which is why he became a full-time instructor at BCIT in 2015. Jason takes pride in helping to build the next generation of leaders who will embrace continuous improvement and evolve our organizations.
Business Consulting Projects
In the Sustainable Business Leadership program, students are exposed to real-world sustainability issues in their Business Consulting Projects where they apply their knowledge directly to industry situations. During these projects, students work with a faculty advisor and an industry sponsor to apply what they’ve learned in the program and benefit from the hands-on experience of working on a real-world project.
Sample Sustainable Business Consulting Projects
Reducing embodied carbon in new energy efficient buildings: City of Nelson
Embodied emissions are defined as the greenhouse gas emissions released during the life cycle of materials and products. Currently, the construction industry accounts for approximately 39% of global carbon emissions with 11% stemming from embodied emissions as reported by the International Energy Agency. While Kootenay-based programs, like EcoSave, and province-wide programs, like the BC Energy Step Code, have successfully reduced energy consumption from building operations, this can come at the cost of using more carbon-intensive building materials, which raises the embodied emissions of buildings.
The City of Nelson is taking steps to incorporate embodied emissions considerations into building permitting and is looking to identify locally relevant policies, incentives, and resources. The goal of this consulting project is to analyze policies that have been effective in other municipalities, as well as challenges and opportunities for local stakeholders. This research will inform the City of Nelson’s embodied emissions plan and help to facilitate an easier transition for the construction community.
Driving Demand for Sustainable Real Estate: Sustainable Reality and Vancouver Economic Commission
In British Columbia, buildings represent approximately 10.7% of total greenhouse gas emissions, making the building sector one of the highest overall emitters. By reducing the amount of energy required to build and operate a home, British Columbians can significantly reduce their environmental footprint, and contribute to the fight against the climate crisis. However, the demand for sustainable homes in Metro Vancouver and BC continues to be low.
Sustainable Realty and the Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC) have teamed up with students in BCIT’s Advanced Diploma in Sustainable Business Leadership to identify barriers and understand perceptions of homebuyers in the province towards sustainable homes. The goal is to help improve consumer awareness and stimulate demand for sustainable homes. The students will outline key findings and recommendations in their final report to inform realtors, the VEC, developers, and other key potential stakeholders, with the collective goal of accelerating BC towards net-zero buildings.
Employing Persons with Barriers in Reusable Container Business: ShareWares (with Social Research and Demonstration Corporation and Share Reuse Repair Initiative)
ShareWares is a Vancouver-based logistics and technology startup that is working to revolutionize the way society reuses food, beverage, and numerous other types of packaging. With plans to embed circular economy principles into regular business operations (through the distribution, collection, sanitization, and redistribution of reusable containers), ShareWares aims to divert multiple streams of waste away from the landfill. Since this business model involves jobs requiring manual labour that present few barriers in terms of skills, education and language, there is an opportunity for Sharewares to provide flexible jobs for persons with challenges to employment.
Sharewares engaged a BCIT SBL team, in order to research and recommend how ShareWares could hire, train, and integrate individuals experiencing barriers to employment into their operational process. These include persons with autism, newcomers and refugees, and those living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The project involved collaboration with two co-sponsors, the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC) and the Share Reuse Repair Initiative (SRRI). SRDC is an advisor to SRRI’s Just Circular Recovery and Transition Program that explores the creation of inclusive circular jobs in south western British Columbia.
Circular Economy Resources in Greater Vancouver: Vancity and Vancouver Economic Commission
Linear business practices follow a model that leads to resource exploitation, as well as excessive pollution and waste. The circular economy disrupts these systems by operating on principles that design out waste and pollution, keep products in use, and regenerate natural systems. In the Lower Mainland, the circular economy is gaining momentum with a growing number of circular businesses. However, both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs within existing businesses lack easy access to necessary support and resources to allow them to seamlessly and efficiently transition to circular business models.
Vancity and the Vancouver Economic Commission are both committed to supporting the transition to an inclusive, low-carbon circular economy in Greater Vancouver. They engaged a team of students in the Advanced Diploma in Sustainable Business Leadership to develop a database of circular resources and supports suitable for businesses at all stages of development. The team was also asked to identify any significant resource gaps that need addressing and to recommend how the database of circular resources should be maintained, by which organization, and on what platform.
Food Services: Single-use items vs. reusables
The global climate and ecological crises are motivating organizations, businesses, and governments to review their operations to minimize their environmental impact. A major concern for the food service industry is single-use takeaway items, which are energy and resource intensive to produce and ship, as well as burdensome on our waste streams. BCIT Food Services, operated by Chartwells, currently use a variety of plastic, bioplastic and fibre-based single-use cutlery and containers. While recognizing the potential to reduce their environmental impact by exploring other options, BCIT wants to be clear about the optimal financial and environmental solution before moving ahead.
Chartwells, BCIT Food Services, and the BCIT Institute Sustainability asked the student team to investigate possible dishware and utensil options for their facilities, including reusable, fibre-based, and plastic items both alone and in various combinations. With this research, they hope to understand the costs and benefits of each possibility and identify which option would fit best with BCIT’s food service needs while demonstrating environmental sustainability leadership.
Unbuilders and Vancouver Economic Commission: Deconstruction impact analysis
There is significant potential to transition the construction industry from its current linear structure towards a circular model that prioritizes repurposing of materials and diversion of waste from landfills. Deconstruction is an industry alternative to demolition that diverts construction materials from becoming waste by salvaging, recycling, and reusing them in new building projects. Through deconstruction, buildings are disassembled with a goal of minimizing the construction industry’s environmental footprint.
Based in Vancouver, Unbuilders is the first deconstruction business of its kind in Canada. Unbuilders has partnered with the Vancouver Economic Commission, the economic development agency for the City of Vancouver, to evaluate the scalability of a shift towards deconstruction in Metro Vancouver. Working alongside these clients, the student team will produce an analysis of social, economic and environmental impacts of this shift. The team will compile information regarding deconstruction market size, potential job creation, and materials salvaged and recycled in Metro Vancouver to inform the development of future policy.
Scius and Vancouver Economic Commission: BC’s construction technology ecosystem
Environmentally, inefficiencies in construction and operation processes result in buildings being responsible for over 50% of greenhouse gas emissions in Vancouver and 30% of solid waste to landfills. As the construction industry in BC slowly shifts from analog to digital processes to improve efficiency and reduce waste, opportunities are emerging for tech and construction companies to form partnerships and embrace a wide range of innovations.
The student team will work with Scius and the Vancouver Economic Commission to bridge the knowledge gap between the construction and technology industries in Metro Vancouver. Through the project, the team will undertake relevant primary, secondary research, and technical analysis to produce a detailed inventory and map of current and developing construction technologies in the region. The team will also conduct research to assess barriers and opportunities in the construction technology space.
Social Print Paper: Sugar sheet
Every day in North America, three million trees are cut down to make paper. Although there are various alternatives to traditional tree paper, trees remain the primary source for paper production. Social Print Paper is a North American company making paper out of agricultural fibre while meeting industry standards for paper and printing use without cutting down trees. Sugar Sheet Paper uses ‘bagasse’ – the leftover biomass from the production of cane sugar.
Traditionally, trees have been the trusted material source for paper production, and have dominated the market for decades; therefore, it is not surprising that procuring new paper products may be seen as a risk. This mental construction may be the only constraint to the widespread adoption of ‘tree free’ paper.
The student team will seek to refine and enhance the communication materials currently being used by Social Print Paper. They will validate research on the environmental and socioeconomic benefits of sugar sheet paper and conduct primary research to uncover barriers to broader uptake of the paper.
eStream Energy Partners: Achieving radical building energy efficiency by changing the economics
eStream Energy Partners was established in 2016, by three senior business professionals with the mission to find a way to overcome the significant and persistent barriers to achieving radical building efficiency in large buildings. They propose to change the economics of buildings by separating the ownership of the buildings from the ownership of the energy systems within those buildings. A separately governed in-building energy utility can align conflicting priorities and all parties stand to benefit from maximizing energy efficiency. eStream are seeking to secure a candidate pilot project, but despite significant interest have not yet managed to secure commitment from a developer or municipality.
The goal of the eStream Capstone project is to create a sufficiently convincing argument about the economic and environmental merits of in-building energy utilities. This will help eStream Energy Partners secure participation of a developer or municipality in a pilot project. Primary and secondary research will be conducted to inform and refine messaging and communication materials.
Recycling Alternative: New circular Product(s) from low-grade plastics
Recycling Alternative (RA) is a Vancouver-owned and operated company that provides private waste and recycling collection for everything from e-waste to organic materials for a range of commercial clients. Co-founders and owners Robert and Louise also have a strong commitment to innovation, inclusive employment, and community partnerships.
As a result of China’s ban on many recyclables, low grade plastics numbered 3 to 7 no longer have any recycling value and increasingly are being land-filled, being incinerated, or ending up in our environment. Many of these low-grade plastics are disposable or single-use items such as coffee cup lids, stir sticks, straws, and plastic shopping bags. For Recycling Alternative, the problem of low grade plastics not only means lost revenue but also a violation of their commitment to waste prevention and positive social impact. There is an opportunity for RA to find value for Vancouver’s low-grade plastic waste.
The purpose of the Recycling Alternative project is to determine the feasibility of creating a new circular business model that ads value and transforms low-grade single use plastics collected from commercial clients into new perpetual or recurring-use consumer product(s).
Vancity and One Earth: Accelerating repair
Disposable items have increased rapidly in the past decades together with the rise of a throwaway consumer mentality. We are hitting and exceeding ecological limits, and there is an urgent need to build a more Circular Economy that is much less wasteful. Repair is a key sector of the Circular Economy, which is diverse: from existing repair stores to new circular economy enterprises, from community repair cafes to programs that refurbish electronics. While repairing goods has many benefits, including conserving resources, diverting waste, creating new jobs, and supporting emerging cultural desires to consume less, the repair sector is not well understood or developed.
Vancity and One Earth want to understand what is needed to strengthen existing repair entities as well as spark new ventures that address gaps and strengthen access to repair services. Vancity is Canada’s largest cooperative Credit Union serving the needs of more than 525,000 member-owners and their communities across southwest British Columbia. Vancity sees an opportunity to link the repair sector’s social purpose with Vancity’s investing and granting strategy. One Earth is a Vancouver-based nonprofit ‘think and do’ tank whose mission is to transform production and consumption patterns so they are ecologically sustainable and just. One Earth has a strategic partnership with Vancity to support Vancity’s new Lighter Living focus and is serving as a supporting client for this project.
Program Head, Sustainable Business Leadership
604-454-2294 | Tessa_Jordan@bcit.ca
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