Denise Rotondo, from Sicily, is a Franklin University Switzerland alumna who graduated last Spring earning a Master's degree in International Management with an emphasis in Responsible Management and Climate Action.

“My goal is to lead positive change in organizations and communities and apply systemic thinking to business and organizations. I am highly committed to working towards the support and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and to help businesses turn environmental goals into functional solutions”.

Driven by her growing interest in planet conservation, sustainability, and international cooperation, Denise joined Franklin University Switzerland in 2020, completing her second master's degree featuring a special partnership with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). When asked about what attracted her to Franklin, Denise listed the unique opportunity to learn directly from executives from top global organizations, her interest in a program strongly focused on the 2030 Sustainable Development Strategy, and the possibility of joining a project team in the UN in Geneva. Finally, Denise was eager to further improve a set of soft skills that are in high demand in today's professional contexts: self-leadership, emotional intelligence, productive teamwork, and creative thinking. 

How did Denise discover Franklin's master's program? After receiving her Cifal Malaga certification she started browsing the web for potential educational programs related to the 2030 Agenda. During her search, she landed on the UNITAR homepage and under the masters' section read about the collaboration with Franklin University Switzerland. Considering her business economics background, she strongly believed that the program addressing climate change was the right direction to take for her professional career journey and goals. An added value was also the access to a strong professional network. It is thanks to Franklin's network that Denise met different inspiring leaders as the Ambassador of the Swiss permanent mission at the UN organizations in Rome, Pio Wennubst, with whom she joined the Bites of Transfoodmation project, becoming an active member of the community of young leaders.

Another significant experience at Franklin was during the Future of Work and Leadership Masterclasses with Dean Carlo Giardinetti, where the class met Paul Polman and listened to his inspiring pitch on how businesses are called to take action on the climate agenda – read more here. She further enjoyed the course in Global Issues and Responsible Leadership, working side by side with executives from top multinational organizations on real-life projects, and understanding the actual problems that businesses are facing. Through Franklin, Denise also had the opportunity to collaborate with the Future Food Institute (FFI) by organizing and coordinating the Italian-related G20 side events. Finally, she also joined the summer school “Food system in transition” organized by the World Food System Center of ETH Zurich.

As Denise states "I believe that a strong asset of the MSIM program was also the course in Leadership Development through Action learning, designed together with Reboot the Future. This is an out-of-the-ordinary course where students become teachers and teachers become students, a unique learning process, with educational sessions held in Swiss nature, to learn, to observe, directly from the greatest teacher of all: Mother Nature. This course was full of sessions with many prominent speakers. My favorite had to be the one on Social Biomimicry with Daria Dubravcic on nature-inspired leadership and organizations, which truly inspired my journey."

Speaking of inspiring people, Denise fondly recalls the experience and passion of Professor Corinne Young and describes her as an inspirational leader during the program's coaching sessions, capable of guiding students towards their ambitions and goals, with professionalism, authenticity, and empathy. 

"Before joining Franklin, my ambition was to support the ecological transition and to create a more sustainable future for all, transforming this aspiration into a purpose-driven job. Today I am extremely proud to work in projects aimed at reducing environmental threats and improving human health."

Today, Denise works at the World Economic Forum as Project Specialist at the Center for Nature and Climate, where she is responsible for supporting and facilitating two sustainability initiatives, the Alliance for Clean Air and Road Freight Zero, to accelerate the transition toward a net-zero economy. While embracing her passion for green impact, Denise has experience with leading enablement events for employees on how to address climate change and the ongoing environmental crisis. In her free time, she also works with several national and international NGOs on environmental protection, empowering and encouraging others to catalyze positive and impactful change and enabling the mobilization of innovators and changemakers.

"I strongly believe that digital processes, ultimate technologies, and sustainability are key drivers to achieve the sustainable development goals and net zero emissions by 2030. This ‘decade to deliver’ requires a new model of responsible leadership to pursue profitable growth with positive social and environmental impact."

Denise concluded with "Human and environmental health are inextricably connected to each other. A healthy planet means healthy people, this is all we need!"