On Friday of March 11, a company visit at Chunghwa Telecom (CHT) took place, however, this was no ordinary visit. Instead, all participants would receive a training in a methodology called SROI (Social Return on Invest). This method is part of the world of ESG (Environment, Social, Governance), which is a topic that had been accumulating more and more interest in the past years. As such, this training was a great opportunity to understand more about what the drivers behind ESG are and what practical conclusions can be drawn.
The visit was organized by the professors of the GMBA course Global Management Forum, Prof. Audrey Hsu and Prof. Charles Chang. Because it lasted until the evening, the afternoon GMBA course Organizational Behavior taught by Prof. Leon van Jaarsveld was invited to participate. Overall there were roughly 20 participants from NTU and 7 participants from CHT; plus several more who joined online.
After settling down in the training venue kindly prepared by CHT, opening speeches were given by all of our three GMBA professors. CHT Executive Mr. Liu then also greeted everyone via online, before the three workshop lecturers Dr. Yung-Chuan Ko, Mr. Alfred Du and Dr. Tracy Lin introduced themselves.
The workshop was then started by Dr. Ko, who gave an overview of the benefits of using SROI to evaluate projects, as well as the associated principles, before introducing a case that would be the background for all the group exercises of the day. For those group exercises, the participants were divided into four teams, that would work together to apply the taught principles, while being aided by the lecturers. Each team then had to present their take on the task. Examples of the group exercises were: Identifying and listing stakeholders, finding possible outcomes of sub-actions of the project, planning an event chain that leads to the desired outcome, finding indicators to measure the achievement level of outcomes, assigning values for outcomes, etc..
The group exercises provided a good contrast to the lecture and also gave the opportunity for everyone to draw from their past work experience and share with others. The fundamentals of the method came to life by simulating a real-life scenario and due to this, the learning process was not only faster, but I think it also more likely that the participants can retain the information for a longer time period.
My personal favorite part dealt with discounting the SROI with four factors (Deadweight, Attribution, Displacement, Drop-off) that account for conditions that reduce the value of the assessed project. The reason behind this is that a project value should not be overclaimed, if other events or occurrences can lead to a similar outcome at the same time.
In the last few minutes of the workshop, the lecturers gave us the opportunity for some Q&A and the amount of questions from the students showed once again the deep interest that everyone had for this topic. Finally, Prof. Chang closed the event with a short speech and everyone gathered for a group photo.
To summarize, I feel this was a great opportunity to learn about a topic of increasing importance that is not covered by the course's syllabus. Many thanks to CHT for providing the venue and letting NTU GMBA participate in this event. Also, I would like to extend a special thanks to our lecturers, who had to conduct the whole training in English for the first time, because of our international students attendance, and who did a great job doing so.