Online ESG and Sustainable Financial Strategy Course

Transforming your corporation's financial strategy

  • Start date: 31 January 2024
  • Duration: 6 weeks
  • Time commitment: Part time
  • Location: Online
  • Cost: £1,900 

Firms are operating within an environment of unprecedented change brought about by sustainability and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues. This presents both risks and opportunities that can radically impact the value of the firm, making sustainability and ESG issues of critical importance to finance strategy professionals.

The course is a six-week online course in sustainable finance designed for CFOs and senior professionals who incorporate a financial and strategic remit within their role.

Amir Amel-Zadeh, Associate Professor and Academic Director of the course, will guide you through the learning material which focuses on the drivers and fundamentals of sustainability including key ESG concepts such as climate change and net zero, and equality and inclusion. You’ll explore the ISSB, TCFD and other relevant standards and regulations; and learn about risk management and finance, and governance. You will also learn why and how to incorporate ESG and sustainability into your strategic and financial planning and how to manage and communicate with your stakeholders.

You’ll learn alongside a global cohort of like-minded finance professionals and hear from guest speakers who are experts in this field. Drawing on the expertise of Oxford faculty and industry leaders, you’ll be provided with frameworks, guidelines, and highly relevant and engaging content built specifically for executives and leaders in the finance and accounting function across industries.

Sustainability Transformation Plan

As well as the knowledge and know-how gathered on the course, upon completion, you will leave this programme with your Sustainability Transformation Plan: a practical 'blueprint' designed by you, specifically for your organisation, so that you can immediately implement what you have learned which will position your firm for long-term growth and profitability.


The ESG and Sustainable Financial Strategy online course is an open programme, meaning there are no admissions requirements. However, professionals listed below will find it particularly relevant:

  • Chief Finance Officers (CFOs)
  • Professionals working within the office of the CFO
  • Professionals working in senior strategic roles
  • Other members of the C-suite and Board


The ESG and Sustainable Financial Strategy course is taught online through our virtual learning platform. This allows you to study from anywhere in the world, at any time, making the programme a truly flexible, online learning experience that adapts to the demands of your personal and professional obligations.

Our online methodology features multimedia learning material, webinars (which are recorded), and optional group sessions to further enrich your learning. Assessment is continuous and based on a series of practical assignments completed online.


The partnership

Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and AICPA & CIMA (the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) are partnering to provide rigorous and up-to-date courses covering academic, professional and regulatory expertise on crucial ESG and sustainability topics for risk and accountancy roles that report to or work with the CFO.


Tonielle Ballard, Programme Consultant | +44 (0) 7808 174 032


The course begins with an orientation module to present you with basic concepts in ESG and Sustainability, and to familiarise you with the online learning platform. This is followed by 6 modules that progressively build your understanding and expertise, each contributing a piece to your Sustainability Transformation Plan - meaning you will finish the course with knowledge and understanding, and a custom blueprint to deliver impact within your organisation.

Orientation Module

The orientation module aims to prepare you for the rest of the course.

It will:

  • familiarise your with the online campus
  • provide you with an overview of the programme handbook
  • introduce you to the programme team
  • cover some introductory course material including pre-reading materials, basic definitions and a glossary.

All of this will stand you in good stead as you embark on the rest of the course.

Module 1: Drivers and Fundamentals of Sustainability

Module 1 of the online ESG and Sustainable Financial Strategy course unpacks the issues that society and organisations are facing, confronted with the realities of climate change, ESG, and sustainability. It covers the drivers and fundamentals of sustainability, with a focus on sustainable finance best practices in business and how they relate to finance professionals, CFOs and CEOs. 

Key learning outcomes include:

  • identifying drivers of sustainable practices
  • explaining social and environmental practices with positive impacts
  • identifying risks and opportunities from global sustainability challenges.

Lesson 1 - Introduction to Sustainability

In this lesson you'll meet your classmates and be introduced to the fundamentals of sustainability and the different perspectives of investors, enterprise and other stakeholders. We'll start exploring ESG and the drivers of sustainable finance and ESG finance including ISSB definitions, the issues that organisations are facing and what it all means for the CFO and office of the CFO.

Lesson 2 - Environment, Climate and Net Zero

Lesson 2 tackles environmental sustainability with a special focus on topics like biodiversity, climate change, nature-based solutions, and offsetting mechanisms. It features insightful discussions with Chris Fuggle, Global Head of Sustainability Services at Mazars LLP on climate change and net-zero goals.

Lesson 3 - Social Sustainability

Lesson 3 explores social sustainability by addressing corporate social responsibility, human rights issues, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how they relate to the finance and accounting function.

Lesson 4 - Applications and Insights from Practice

Finally, through case studies and interviews with business leaders, the fourth lesson examines the practice and application of sustainability to business. It also features a graded project where you will map your business' current sustainability practices and identify the potential risks and opportunities that sustainability issues present to it.

Module 2: Strategic Planning and Long-term Value Creation

Module 2 focuses on strategic financial planning and long-term value creation. It will help you to understand how to incorporate sustainability practices into your business’ strategy. 

The learning outcomes target:

  • implementing purpose in organisations
  • mapping stakeholders for transformation plans
  • identifying elements for long-term value creation.

Lesson 1 - ESG and Corporate Purpose

Lesson 1 explores the concept of corporate purpose and how it relates to strategy, profit, and shareholder and stakeholder capitalism. The lesson examines integrated frameworks for measuring purpose and how to implement it in resource allocation and strategic planning. 

Lesson 2 - Integrating Purpose into Strategy

Lesson 2 provides frameworks for developing a purpose-led organisation and articulating its existence, mission, and vision. It covers stakeholder mapping, scrutinising how the broadening boundaries of the firm require a re-evaluation of traditional financial reporting.

You will work to establish your organisation's vision, mission, and purpose.

Lesson 3 - Implementing Purpose: ESG in Capital Budgeting

Lesson 3 delves into implementing purpose via ESG in capital budgeting. It examines value creation in purposeful brands and the 'six capitals' framework. It also explores the effects of a company’s activities on people and the planet, decision-making, resource allocation, and how to measure ESG impact on value.

Lesson 4 - Applications and Insights from Practice

Lastly, Lesson 4 examines the practicalities of strategic planning and value creation through case studies and sessions with Christian Heller, CEO of Value Balancing Alliance. As part of the course evaluation you will identify key inputs, outputs, and impacts to create a purpose statement and stakeholder map.

Module 3: Risk Management and Finance

Module 3 explores risk management and finance in the context of sustainability. It will help you evaluate the risks and opportunities which sustainable practices present. 

Key learning outcomes are:

  • understanding how sustainability impacts financial roles
  • identifying main drivers in sustainable finance markets
  • understanding how ESG risks and opportunities are integrated into financial markets.

Lesson 1 - Sustainable Finance

Lesson 1 introduces sustainability finance and the green finance market. It examines financial institutions, markets, and policymakers as drivers of sustainable finance. You will also analyse the ways ESG affects corporate and financial markets and how all this impacts the finance function of the firm.

Lesson 2 - Identifying and Measuring ESG Risks and Opportunities

Lesson 2 focuses on identifying and measuring ESG risks and opportunities and why they matter for business. The lesson introduces key risk-management approaches like the TCFD framework and examines climate risk and opportunity with scenario analysis. Guest speakers share insights on high-level risk management and scenario analysis, identifying material issues, and measuring impact. In lesson 2 you will reflect on how ESG risks and opportunities relate to your organisation.

Lesson 3 - Financing Sustainability

Lesson 3 delves into sustainable financing options, particularly green and social bonds, sustainability-linked bonds and loans, and the role of offsets in reaching net zero. It examines how sustainability is integrated into financial markets, the concept of impact finance, and the link between green finance and lower cost of capital. A quiz will test your understanding of these key concepts.

Lesson 4 - Applications and Insights from Practice

Lesson 4 concludes by providing first-hand insights into risk and sustainable finance from case studies and guest speakers including Maja de Vibe, Senior Vice President Sustainability, Governance and Compliance (Chief Compliance Officer) at Statkraft. You will map out the risks to, and opportunities for, your organisation as part of the course evaluation. 

The module concludes with a mid-programme webinar featuring a panel discussion on a relevant topic.

Module 4: Regulation and Reporting

Module 4 breaks down key reporting and regulatory frameworks. 

Learning outcomes include:

  • determining shared principles across sustainability frameworks and regulations
  • defining best practice in sustainability reporting
  • identifying the pros and cons of different ESG ratings.

Lesson 1 - Frameworks and Policies

Lesson 1 presents an overview of the main reporting frameworks and sustainability accounting standards: The IFRS Foundation's Integrated Reporting Framework and International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) standards; the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations, and EU regulations. Ndidi Nolo-Edozien, Board Member at the ISSB, will discuss single versus double materiality and integrated reporting. It also includes a practical activity to reinforce your understanding of key frameworks.

Lesson 2 - ESG Metrics and Measurement

Lesson 2 examines the role, advantages, and deficiencies of ESG indices and ratings. It provides an overview of key players like MSCI’s ESG Rating and explores best practice in measuring environmental and social impacts. Group discussions will invite you to assess and reflect on ESG measurement practices in your organisation.

Lesson 3 - Assurance

Lesson 3 delves into the assurance aspect of sustainability reporting, discussing internal audit and external assurance of ESG data, potential uncertainties, and necessary processes and controls. A guest speaker from an audit firm shares insights on this topic, followed by a quiz assessing your understanding of key concepts.

Lesson 4 - Applications and Insights from Practice

Through case studies and guest speaker testimony from Robert Swaak, CEO of ABN AMRO Bank N.V., Lesson 4 offers insights into the issues companies face when reporting, and problems related to, ESG ratings. The graded project involves distilling critical information from the key frameworks into a single, succinct document that will serve as an effective reference for your future projects.

Module 5: Governance and Stakeholder Engagement

Module 5 focuses on governance and stakeholder engagement, aiming to develop your skills in effective corporate governance practice and sustainability reputation management. 

The learning outcomes include:

  • defining corporate governance and board roles
  • understanding compensation mechanisms in ESG
  • managing corporate reputation, and strategic communication.

Lesson 1 - Corporate Governance

Lesson 1 introduces the 'G' in ESG, expanding on corporate governance, board roles and duties, and unpacks how boards currently address sustainability issues. It also explores how regulation shapes governance structures. You will be invited to reflect, discuss and analyse the governance mechanisms in your organisation.

Lesson 2 - Sustainability Leadership

Lesson 2 discusses sustainability leadership, including sustainable leadership practice, the role of compensation mechanisms in aligning boards with ESG objectives, directors' fiduciary duties, sustainability regulations, and managing corporate reputation. Guest speakers provide insights on these topics and the lesson closes with a graded quiz.

Lesson 3 - Managing Stakeholders

Lesson 3 explores stakeholder management and considers how investors engage with companies on sustainability issues. It examines trends in shareholder and NGO activism, investor stewardship evolution and multi-stakeholder management. Guest speakers, including an investor and an NGO representative, share insights on engaging with companies on ESG issues.

Lesson 4 - Applications and Insights from Practice

Finally, Lesson 4 offers practical insights through case studies featuring UBS and another on investor relations, as well as guest speaker sessions with Richard Mattison, Vice Chair at S&P Global. The graded project involves your assessment of the extent to which sustainability is integrated into your organisation's annual report.

Module 6: Transformational Change

Module 6 focuses on transformational change. It will guide you in leading the strategic change needed to incorporate sustainability into your organisation and its activities.

The learning outcomes include:

  • building a sustainability and resilience culture
  • creating a transformation plan for greater sustainability
  • measuring and communicating the sustainability transformation strategy.

Lesson 1 - Sustainability Transformation

Lesson 1 introduces sustainability transformation for long-term value creation, leading and managing strategic change, and the future of the corporation. Guest speakers including Morten Haukaas, Vice President of Equinor Group’s Financial Reporting, share their experiences on major transformations in different contexts.

Lesson 2 - Building a Sustainability Culture

Lesson 2 discusses building a culture of sustainability, transformational leadership, enacting the sustainability strategy, and building ESG culture and corporate resilience. A class-wide discussion focuses on successful cases of building a sustainable culture.

Lesson 3 - Managing Change

Lesson 3 focuses on managing change, corporate transformation, adapting to disruption, cultural change within the enterprise, and resilience and growth. It also discusses measuring and communicating sustainability transformation to stakeholders, with guest speakers providing their insights on these topics.

Lesson 4 - Applications and Insights from Practice

Lesson 4 brings the module and the course to a close. It provides insights from practice through case studies and guest speaker sessions, including a proposed case study on green steel and the sustainability transformation of a steel company.

The final graded project builds on your work in the previous five modules. You will bring together all of your previous assignments and finalise your Sustainability Transformation Plan, ready to be executed within your organisation upon successful completion of the course.


The programme is led by Amir Amel-Zadeh, who has brought together faculty from Oxford Saïd, the wider University of Oxford, and beyond to share their research and insights into climate change finance and accounting. They will be joined by guest industry experts, who are at the forefront of leading sustainable change across organisations.


Industry expert contributors

  • Clara Barby - Senior Partner, Just Climate
  • Thomas Becker - Vice President Sustainability and Mobility Strategy, BMW Group
  • Chris Fuggle - Global Head of Sustainability, Mazars
  • Angus Graham - Finance COO, UBS
  • Rex Gu - Europe Regional Head of Finance, AP Moller Maersk
  • Morten Haukaas - Vice President Finance and Control, Head of Group Financial Reporting, Equinor ASA
  • Sonja Haut - Head, Impact Valuation, Novartis
  • Christian Heller - Chief Executive Officer, Value Balancing Alliance
  • Simon Henry - Non-Executive Independent Director (Energy Resources and Banking)
  • Rafidah Jumal - Vice President Finance, Controller, Shell
  • Paul Lee - Head of Stewardship and Sustainable Investment Strategy, Redington
  • Richard Mattison - Vice Chair, S&P Global Sustainable1
  • Alan McGill - Partner, Global Sustainability Assurance Leader - Stakeholder Assurance, PwC
  • Matt Stirrup - SVP Finance, Oracle
  • Robert Swaak - Chief Executive Officer, ABN AMRO Bank
  • Christopher Tower - Managing Partner, Sustainability & ESG, BDO
  • Christy Wright - Senior Vice President, Corporate Finance, Southwire Company LLC


Sustainability Transformation Plan

The ESG and Sustainable Financial Strategy course aims to provide you with a practical toolset and impactful learning, such that you can begin to transform your organisation to meet the climate challenge immediately. A significant part of that toolset is the Sustainable Transformation Plan.

Each module’s learnings will be applicable to the building of one facet of your plan; each week you will submit a piece of the plan and feedback will be given by your tutor. Over the course of the ESG and Sustainable Financial Strategy programme, one module at a time, piece by piece, you will build your plan.

By Module 6 you will have a complete portfolio of pieces which, once refined and submitted, will constitute your finished Sustainability Transformation Plan. The plan will be a major part of the course’s evaluation and will be an impactful blueprint, specific to your organisation, its setting and circumstances. You can use your plan to begin implementing Sustainability and ESG best practice immediately.

Your certificate 

On successful completion you will be awarded an official digital certificate of attendance in your legal name from Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. You will need to meet the requirements outlined in the course orientation module. 


The initial cohort for this course will not offer CPD or CPE; subsequent cohorts will offer CPD and CPE credit.


Participants who complete an Oxford Saïd Executive Education online programme are automatically part of the Oxford Saïd Business School elumni community. 

The Elumni Community

Our thriving community comprises more than 37,000 ambitious professionals hailing from 177 countries and representing diverse sectors like finance, law, marketing, healthcare, and energy. A significant number of these individuals proceed to undertake additional online or on-campus programs, including short courses, executive diplomas, or MBAs.

Oxford Saïd Elumni Network

The Oxford Saїd Elumni Network is a virtual hub specially crafted for elumni. Acknowledging that the journey of professional growth doesn't cease with program completion; the platform is devised to motivate, encourage, and provide support to elumni as they pursue their career ambitions. It offers elumni an avenue to engage with Saïd Business School faculty, gaining access to expert opinions, research insights, and thought leadership. Furthermore, the network facilitates purposeful global networking, enabling collaborative endeavours for sharing ideas, expertise, and tackling challenges collectively.

You will also gain access to the official Oxford Executive Education Alumni group on LinkedIn. 

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