The Nature Conservancy: One mission, one leadership


The Nature Conservancy is a global environmental nonprofit working to create a world where people and nature can thrive.

Founded in the US in 1951, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has grown to become one of the most effective and wide-reaching environmental organisations in the world.

The requirement

Exceptional cross-border leadership skills

The mission of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is to advance conservation in more than 70 countries worldwide. It’s a far-reaching challenge that demands a highly effective and focused organisation. TNC reached out to Cambridge Judge Business School Executive Education to design a programme for their leadership team that would enable them to deepen their impact and change the future for coming generations.

TNC’s team is global and diverse. The organisation is expanding all the time. Its conservation targets and projects are becoming ever more complex. Effective collaboration across teams, borders and continents is crucial, to drive ambitious and urgent environmental transformation. With a newly defined set of 2030 goals to achieve, TNC wanted to align leadership mindsets, skillsets and approaches behind them.

The solution

A blended, digital-first, 3-level leadership programme

Cambridge Judge Business School Executive Education worked with TNC to develop the One Conservancy Leadership Programme (1CLP). It supports the senior team to develop self-awareness and presence, to adopt a collaborative leadership style and to lead this sophisticated organisation effectively to meet its goals.

Partnership and trust were key in the programme’s development. Discussing the tenets of TNC’s strategy and implementation demanded a blend of academic and scientific expertise from Cambridge Judge. Having understood the nuances of the 2030 goals, Cambridge Judge drew on insight from University of Cambridge research centres to identify the right leadership strategies to address them and to map the transformation that the programme would need to enable.

Together, Cambridge Judge and TNC designed the framework of a structured leadership programme that first gave participants the chance to use the skills they learned in the classroom, then to apply them on the job. The 4 key pillars of 1CLP are:

  • programme outcomes tangibly linked to TNC competencies
  • leaders allowed to experiment with the application of their takeaways.
  • highlight exemplars within and outside TNC, showing how to leverage these examples for success.
  • create a community that allowed TNC leaders to collaborate actively across boundaries on strategic issues

The result was an executive learning journey delivered for 3 levels of leadership, using blended, digital-first learning techniques, running for 3 initial 100-participant cohorts over 6 to 9 months. Designing an inspiring, impactful experience for every delegate was vital, with group coaching and an advisory network to maintain engagement and motivation.

The impact

Rapid business evolution and a motivated leadership community


Average feedback score (out of 5)




Of TNC leadership reached


Initial cohorts

The skills that our junior, mid and senior leaders gain during the 1CLP allow them to impact the entire organisation. The 2030 goals are extremely ambitious but nothing less than what is required for the survival of our ecosystems, our waterways and essentially our planet. Projects that have spun out of the programme’s unique community, centred on the advisory system, have driven tremendous progress. The 1CLP and our collaboration with Cambridge Judge are key to our leadership development strategy.

Mike Tetreault, Chief People Officer, TNC

Take the next step

Discuss your needs with our Custom programmes team.

Get in touch

With an average feedback score of over 4.6/5 and over 500 participants, 1CLP has reached over 35% of the TNC leadership so far. The programme has equipped them with the approach and tools they need to collaborate across offices and drive successful conservation efforts.

The 1CLP was an inflection point for me. It stretched me in profound ways and made me realise that I needed to answer the global call to action for greater climate leadership. The growth that occurred in me during 1CLP inspired me to apply for the global role that I now hold. I realised that I had the leadership skills and desire to make a difference on a global scale and the 1CLP was a real catalyst in that realisation.

Megan Wenrich, Global Director, Philanthropy Effectiveness, TNC

Examples of tangible change as a direct result of the programme include an increased move from franchise to enterprise, with far more cross-boundary collaboration. There’s already more focus on equity and indigenous rights, putting decisions in the hands of those who will care for the land. TNC has also seen record philanthropic donations since beginning its partnership with Cambridge Judge allowing it to significantly increase the resource it is able to bring to bear on its mission.

Want to know more?

Access world-leading expertise available within the University of Cambridge ecosystem, the home of cutting-edge research and innovation.

Explore custom programmes