‘Sustainability in an Unstable Environment is Not a Paradox, but the Norm’
The application deadline for the English-language Master of Business Analytics programme has been extended until September 20th. Irina Ivashkovskaya, Professor at the Faculty of Economic Sciences, Head of the School of Finance and Programme Academic Supervisor of the online Master of Business Analytics programme, spoke about why we should study current concepts and methods of business analysis in this era of new economic normality.
The online Master of Business Analytics programme trains financial leaders and responds to new demands from companies and the financial sector to adapt business models to meet UN sustainability goals. The Master’s programme focuses on the concept of stakeholder capitalism, or inclusive economic growth, which emphasises the non-financial resources of companies—human, customer, structural, digital, social and natural capital. The programme concept takes into account new analyses on the inclusion of non-financial capital in the evaluation and projection of future financial results.
Students are offered two specialisations: ‘Value Based Business Analytics’ and ‘Strategic Business Reporting and Assurance’. In addition, the programme has a global orientation. Virtual project workshops run by international specialists from Europe and Asia provide access to leadership practices. Project seminars led by business experts from industry and consultancy become tools for organising creative work by small teams of students on project topics within specialisations.
Particular attention is paid to new risk management concepts that integrate the analysis and management of new types of risks associated with non-financial resources and an increasingly volatile environment, as well as risk-based budgeting techniques.
— Do you agree that the depressed situation in the financial markets is making sustainable development and green finance less relevant?
— Sustainable development in an unstable environment is not a paradox—it is more or less the norm. Why do I think so? First of all, because the market environment is always volatile and uncertain for business, and the challenge of ‘greening finance’ is precisely to reduce the non-financial risk factors caused by environmental and social processes. If these issues are not addressed right now, business survival is highly contingent.
The new approach to management is driven by new risks. There is no turning away from them.
Secondly, the greening of finance is neither a fashion nor a fad. Maintaining a clientele that needs quality products and on time, a market share that requires an increase in uniqueness from a company, is impossible if you turn your back on the objective processes of striving for sustainability.
Finally, let's take the ideas of a new globalisation and a re-alignment to Asia, to non-European and non-American economies. All business studies show that these other, new partners got involved in sustainability before us and have already gone much deeper into it. The regulatory framework, the actual picture of their practices, demonstrates this. Therefore, these new partners will test Russian businesses on their 'commitment to sustainability'. It's very simple: they cannot regard themselves as a company that has embraced sustainability if their old and new business partners are not similarly green, responsible, and socially oriented. This is because the company does not just pay lip service to it on their website, but makes special non-financial reports certified by external auditors. Therefore, the company's suppliers, clients and counterparties must be green.
Graduates of the programme will receive a Master's degree in Finance with a specialisation in Business Analytics. The curriculum includes mandatory subjects for financiers (Finance Theory, Macroeconomics, Econometrics, Financial Markets and Instruments, Corporate Finance, International Financial Reporting, etc) and programme-specific subjects (Valuation and Value Based Management, Public Non-Financial Reporting, etc). There are 14 elective courses (out of which 6 are chosen) which are relevant to the specialisation. The programme is implemented in accordance with the standards of the ACCA, AICPA-CIMA and IMA professional bodies.
— Is it worth pursuing an education in finance and sustainable development now, in a geopolitical crisis?
— Those who decide to study for a master's degree today cannot afford ‘a moment of weakness’, since they do not receive such an education every year. These are not short courses from professional associations or business schools. It's a fundamental period in a student's life, when one transforms from a chrysalis into a beautiful butterfly. To put it more starkly: the future is already here, but it is unevenly distributed. The challenge for all of us in the profession is to get into these cells of the future in time. In any new geopolitical configuration, it is better for young people to introduce themselves to new trends in the profession than to keep saying that now is not the time for innovation.
Sergei Grishunin, Associate Professor at the School of Finance, Online Master’s Programme Expert
A financial education pays off quickly. Environmental problems, issues of social inequality, good corporate governance are going nowhere and will lead to mass bankruptcy and reduced quality of life in the medium term. Addressing such problems is therefore essential. EAEU countries are transitioning to a sustainable development economy, which requires harmonisation of legislation as well as the development of new financial instruments. Eastern stock exchanges are placing increasingly high demands on issuers, and there is a great need for specialists in integrated and non-financial reporting. Our graduates will therefore be in high demand.
— A Master's programme is usually a fundamental product built on the methodology of a particular area of expertise. And the Master of Business Analytics programme is stated as being project-oriented. How does this work?
— You can’t have a normal master's programme without a super-methodological base. When a team has a taste for methodology and navigating all its new currents, it is able to understand where these currents lead, who is already swimming in them, and how to adapt to them. Incidentally, we were able to discern these future particles because the academic part of the team is involved in research, regularly attending international conferences not as guest observers, but as authors of papers.
The merger between the International Accounting Standards Board and the Value Reporting Foundation, which was established in June 2021 to promote integrated reporting as a basic format for non-financial business reports, was completed globally on August 1st. A year ago, the agency was formed by the merger of two entities, the International Integrated Reporting Council (UK) and the Sustainability Reporting Committee (USA). The business world has a powerful new tool for analytics, benchmarking, planning and modelling. The Master of Business Analytics programme, established before these mergers, has very rightly identified the future trends in analytics. The Master's degree prepares a new generation of just-in-time analysts to understand the impact, performance and risks of non-financial resources and produce integrated reports that are a tool for modelling the value of businesses and their future financial performance.
And it is very important that all our years-long experience of working in finance schools—and I have created three master's programmes in finance at HSE University over the last 20 years—speaks to the need to actively include experts with experience of interesting business practices in the whole fabric of the educational process. Many experts have recorded lectures in video courses. They are introduced into the work of the Project Lab, where experts are the main presenters. Everyone benefits enormously from this alliance. Practical oversight of the project's progress, unconventional arguments ‘from business life’, original views on what is happening in industries, a lot of nuances are brought in just from the expertise. Furthermore, despite the online, ostensibly detached, isolated nature of the students, the programme actually gives them a voluminous space for direct dialogue with experts, not to mention the academic part of the team and student-to-student communication.