The second annual ESSEC Science & Society was a hit!


The second annual ESSEC Science & Society Conference was held on April 4th at the ESSEC Cergy campus. Organized by the ESSEC Research Center, this event is dedicated to sharing knowledge and research from ESSEC professors and invited guests, with this year’s edition welcoming around 200 guests.

“Academic research is a key part of ESSEC’s mission, and our goal is to produce knowledge that will address 21st century challenges. We believe that it is our responsibility to share this knowledge. Our guiding principle is “science with and for society”, and that’s why we created the ESSEC Science & Society conference”, explains Roméo Tédongap, Associate Dean for Research at ESSEC. 

This day-long conference brings together ESSEC and invited professors, students, business experts and local actors. This year’s theme was “Companies and communities in changing times”, focusing on sustainability and social action. Vincenzo Vinzi kicked off the day with a warm welcome, then handing the stage to Gilbert Azoulay, Director of News Tank.

We welcomed keynote speakers (and ESSEC alumni!) William Arkwright (Director of Engie Green), Philippe Brochard (former CEO of Auchan France), and Françoise Carle (DGA, Development, Val d’Oise region). Mr. Arkwright shared his insights on renewable energy, while Philippe Brochard invited us to think harder about how we consume and Ms. Carle shared the work that the Val d’Oise is doing regarding sustainability.

During a roundtable discussion moderated by Mr. Azoulay, a variety of specialists shared their takes on how private and public entities are taking on sustainability challenges and how they can work together. There were five members on our panel:

  • Laurence Daures (ESSEC Professor of Finance)
  • Elisabeth Gaillarde (CSR Director at the Transition & Growth consulting firm)
  • Mikaël Lemarchand (Former Director, Territorial and Environmental Engagement at SNCF)
  • Guillaume Placé (Deputy Chief Executive of Urban Planning and Economic Development of the Cergy-Pontoise conurbation)
  • Pascal Trideau, ESG and Operational Excellence Director of SOFIPROTEOL

ESSEC science et societe photo de groupe 2

One key conclusion emerged from the discussion: while we may all have different approaches and perspectives on sustainable development, that makes it all the more worthwhile to share experiences and best practices and work together. And with Mr. Lemarchand, Ms. Gaillarde and Mr. Trideau being ESSEC alumni themselves, it shows that ESSEC grads are committed to sustainability and having a positive impact long after their time in the classroom!

After lunch, we welcomed participants back to the Grand Amphi - including two classes of high school students ready to discover the world of research! The first academic session, moderated by Wilfried Sand (head of the economics department), featured Edouard Dequeker (ESSEC professor of public & private policy), Elise Gourier (ESSEC professor of finance) and Geneviève Zembri-Mary (CYU professor of Urban and Regional Planning), talking about urban economics, green-washing and land-use planning. In the second academic session, chaired by Veronica Casarin (professor of accounting and management control), Dr. Felix Papier (professor of supply chain management) gave the final keynote of the day, talking about his work on supply chains and if an ethical supply chain truly exists.

The conference also highlighted the winning ideas of the three finalists of the 180 DC Change Challenge, a student competition. Organized by 180 DC ESSEC, students submitted a project that offered an innovative solution to a current problem: the three winners shared ideas on making IKEA more sustainable, protecting the Amazon rainforest, and empowering students in the Seine-Saint-Denis department. Their participation underscored the importance of listening to the leaders of tomorrow when it comes to the grand challenges we are facing today.

To conclude the day, Anne-Claire Pache, professor of social innovation and Associate Dean for Strategy and Sustainability, reminded us about the impact that research can have and the importance of sharing one’s work. She also highlighted how important it is that we work together to address issues that impact our society, like climate change and equality, and transform ideas into action.

The speakers’ presentations and the variety of participants presented (from high school students and ESSEC students, to staff and professors) showed us that working toward a more positive future is a multifaceted process, and we need to continue the conversation.
Together, we can shape a future where companies and communities collaborate for a more sustainable society.

See you next year for a third edition of the ESSEC Science & Society conference: stay turned for the theme!