A day in the life of a Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business (PCSB) student

Last updated: 8th March 2024

Kripa Balachandran is Head of Product with Mission Zero Technologies, and a student on the Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business (PCSB) with The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). Kripa shares her experience of the programme and details what an average day looks like during one of her residential workshops in Cambridge, UK.

My day begins… at 7 in the morning, in the wonderful accommodation of Madingley Hall. After a cup of tea and a shower, I spend a bit of time journaling before reviewing the agenda for the day. I remind myself of any key preparatory reading required for the day (mainly around the theme of circularity in business), before joining some of my colleagues for breakfast around 8.30, which includes elements of a full English breakfast (a treat!) and some fruit.

I use the 30 minutes before the first lecture of the day for a meeting with my group, with whom we are completing a piece of original academic research. Cambridge is such a beautiful city, so the chance to wake up here in the mornings is so refreshing.

The workshop starts with… an introduction from the Course Director, Emma Fromberg who sets out the key focus for the day. Then begins a series of lectures with a mixture of academics, “practitioners” and PCSB alumni, starting with Sustainable Business Models and group work. In this session, moderated by our supervisor, the group interacts with each other face to face. Our group is from around the world, which leads to rich academic debate for our paper.

Between sessions we… take the opportunity for a cup of tea and make the most of the breaks — this is where I can catch up with the rest of the cohort that may not be in my project group. As I’ve recently moved out of automotive and into the new industry of Carbon Capture, I have been able to speak to members of the cohort who have invaluable experience in this area. I have met several peers that I like to now call friends, by simply speaking to them during the breaks or during dinner.

After lunch we… split into smaller groups for a Sustainable Technology Carousel, with three different lectures happening simultaneously. Our three carousel sessions are Sustainability and AI, Nuclear Fusion and Frugal Innovation which are incredibly fascinating. Most lectures provide opportunities to ask questions or have an interactive element, which ensures the days have plenty of active learning opportunities.

Once sessions finish… I go back to my room to freshen up quickly. As a cohort, we have dinner together, and use it as an opportunity to socialise. One evening in the workshop is usually reserved for a formal dinner, a key part of Cambridge tradition — a 3 course meal! Today, there is an evening lecture at 7.30pm, which is a casual lecture given by one of our supervisors. This lecture is probably the highlight of my week in that it discusses how you can practicably make an impact in what is such a daunting challenge of sustainability. There is also a trip to the local pub near Madingley Hall, organised organically through our cohort’s WhatsApp group – but is entirely optional. 

After a day of learning… I feel there is a lot to take in from a short space of time. And as a sociable introvert, speaking to so many people can be tiring. However, it feels so rewarding. It reminds me of my days at university in terms of pace of learning, but I have learnt something I can apply to my day-job every single day, particular with the “Sphere of Influence” lecture given this week by Ian Ellison. I end every day feeling extremely inspired. 

I am inspired to… change the world! These workshops make me feel that this is possible with the vast amounts of learning, and the truly impressive network that I have met. I always come away from the workshops feeling like I am ready to make a sizeable difference and it really makes me think about the things I want to achieve in the space of my lifetime, and how I want to impact the people around me.

CISL’s Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business (PCSB) is a 9-month Master’s-level postgraduate programme, delivered part-time for working professionals. 

Students can choose from two streams depending on their role and discipline, professional interests and learning needs. The Postgraduate Certificate includes eight days in Cambridge via two residential workshops. Find out more, download the brochure and apply here.


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