Scientific Board

Prof. Dr. René Schmidpeter

Scientific Head of the CSR Dialogue Forum

Professor René Schmidpeter is professor for Sustainable Management at the IU – International University in Munich and research professor at BFH in Bern, Switzerland. He is guest professor/lecturer in Lithuania, USA, India, Australia, England and China. He is series editor for Springer’s CSR, Sustainability, Ethics and Governance books, editor of the Encyclopedia of Sustainable Management (ESM) as well as editor of the Dictionary of Corporate Social Responsibility (DCSR). His research and teaching activities focus on Sustainable Business Transformation, international perspectives on Sustainability, Social Innovation and Sustainable Entrepreneurship with special focus on the relationship between business and society. He has published widely and is the editor of the German management series on Corporate Social Responsibility at Springer Gabler. Schmidpeter serves as an expert in many academic, economic and political steering committees as well as sustainability advisory boards. He has conducted research for and worked with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the European Union, the Bavarian Ministry of Social Affairs, the Anglo-German Foundation, the Bertelsmann Foundation, the Mercator Foundation, the Humboldt Foundation as well as the Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft (DFG).

Ron Sharona Cambridge

Academic Tutor and Senior Lecturer

An experienced Personal Academic Tutor and Senior Lecturer, her skills includes the ability to motivate
students and staff, supervisory skills, course validation and leadership (with 100% NSS), strong academic and research aptitudes, and effective verbal and written communication.
She continuously engages in conferences, seminars, workshops, online presentations, roundtables as well as in professional industry and government forums, in the UK and internationally.
She is a conscientious hardworking individual, with a passion for knowledge and achievement, dedicated, supportive, loyal and organised. Ms. Cambridge is highly self-motivated with a great desire to succeed in all areas of work and life.

Dr. Fabiana Di Lorenzo

Human Rights and Policy Advisor

Fabiana Di Lorenzo is an experienced consultant, trainer and policy advisor on Human Rights and Ethical Business. She received a PhD in Law after doing research on the role of public-private partnership in the implementation of commitments to respecting human rights and sustainability. Fabiana worked for the UK Government, the International Labour Organisation, and she offered consultancy services to a large range of clients, including UN agencies, companies, governments and NGOs.

Dr. Elisabeth Dreer, MSc

Banking and Finance

Dr. Elisabeth Dreer, MSc, studied economics at the Johannes Kepler University (JKU) of Linz from 1985 to 1990. In 1995, she obtained a doctor’s degree at the Alpen-Adria University of Klagenfurt (both are located in Austria, Europe). In 2001, she successfully completed a postgraduate joint-study programme relating to business administration with a focus on banking & finance both at the Danube University of Krems (Austria) and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver (Canada). Between 1991 and 1995, she worked as a junior scientist at the Alpen-Adria University in Klagenfurt. Then she worked as a senior scientist at the JKU in Linz. There she published numerous studies together with Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Friedrich Schneider. For some years, she has also participated in the CSR Dialogue Forum. This leads to scientific projects and papers illuminating this subject area.

Samuel O’Idowo


Banking and Finance

University of London – Banking and Finance

Samuel O Idowo is Senior Lecturer in Accounting, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Governance & Ethics at London Metropolitan University, UK. Samuel is a named Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries & Adminstrators. He has researched in the field of CSR in 1983 when he studied for his Master’s degree in Account & Finance at the University of Stirling in Scotland, UK. Samuel is s Series Editor for Springer’s CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance Book Series, he led the publication two Springer’s Global reference books on CSR – the Encyclopaedia of CSR and the Dictionary. Samuel has edited about twenty books in the field of CSR. He is a renowned international CSR expert and has been in academia for 28 years.

Hualiang Lu, Ph.D

Finance & Economics, Sustainable Development

Hualiang Lu is professor at Nanjing University of Finance & Economics and director of Sino-German Research Institute for Sustainable Development. Dr. Lu received his Ph.D. from Wageningen University in the field of management studies. He is editorial member of Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management (Wiley), The International Journal of Corporate Social Responsibility (Springer), and book series on CSR, Sustainability, Ethics and Governance (Springer). He has published Springer books entitled “Building New Bridges Between Business and Society” and “Sustainable Development and CSR in China”, and Journals including Chinese Management Studies, Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, British Food Journal, Agribusiness: An International Journal, China Agricultural Economics Review, Journal on Chain and Network Science, Journal of International Food & Agribusiness Marketing, and in a variety of book chapters and national journals. His research and teaching activities focus on corporate social responsibility, sustainable development, business ethics and governance, green supply chain management, etc.

Nayan Mitra, PhD

CSR Expert in India

Nayan Mitra has over sixteen years of diverse professional experience in the areas of education, social and corporate sectors, that has trained her to build holistic perspectives of issues.

As a Developmental/ CSR Consultant and a Researcher, she works closely with some of the eminent corporations and civil societies of India. She is also a pro-bono member of the Advisory Council and is in the Board of some of the eminent NGOs, whose work has received exemplary status in international and national circuits. She has conducted several social researches, the findings of which have become important bases for future action and performed need-based interventions in the areas of education, skills, health, nutrition, water and sanitation for the holistic development of vulnerable communities in rural and urban pockets and cross-sections to bring about long term behaviour change with aid from multi-lateral agencies like the European Commission, US-AID, GTZ to name a few as well as of individual donors and foundations / trusts.

Nayan has long years of experience in teaching and coaching undergraduate, post graduate students, as well as corporate members; been a resource person in eminent Institutions of higher learning in the areas of CSR and Corporate Governance;

Nayan Mitra has diverse cultural experience in over four continents and is well networked in various industry associations, NGO forums, Government departments and Centres of Excellence and higher learning like eminent Universities, Management Institutions and High Schools at international and national level.


Mag. Dr. Ursula A. Vavrik

Director NEW WAYS Center for Sustainable Development

Dr. Ursula Vavrik ist an expert in European and international politics as well as sustainable development./SDGs Graduate of the Vienna University of Economics, dissertation 1990,  awarded by the Rudolf Sallinger Prize of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce for excellent research. Consultant for the UN / OECD / OSCE / European Commission, high-level advisor at the BMEIA. Long-term lecturer and visiting professor at numerous universities in Austria and abroad. Since 2009 founder and director of NEW WAYS Center for Sustainable Development. In 2018, for the first time, she presented the European award “Excellence in the Implementation of the UN Sustainability Goals” to around 50 companies with pioneering functions. Numerous stays abroad (Europe, Latin America, Africa), speaks fluent German, English, French, Spanish. Interdisciplinary sustainability research. Cultural management.

MMag. Dr. Melanie Wiener, MBA

Expert for (open) foresight, circular economy und sustainability-oriented innovations

Melanie Wiener studied economic sciences and economic education at the Johannes-Kepler-Universität (JKU) at Linz and obtained her MBA at the Donau Universität at Krems. Before returning to Linz as a University Assistant in 2014 in order to obtain a doctoral degree for strategic management, she was active in private business: 2011-2012 as a communication manager in a PR agency in Vienna and then as a controller in a company group operating on an international scale. Since August 2017, Melanie Wiener has been working as a Postdoctoral Researcher at IQD (Institute for Integrated Quality Design) at the Johannes-Kepler-Universität at Linz. In research and teaching, she particularly deals with the topics of circular economy, sustainability oriented innovations, open foresight as well as quality management.

Professional Experts

Mag. Sandra Donke

Psychologist, assessor, auditor

Mag. Sandra Donke is an expert in Quality Management and works at voestalpine Stiftung since many years. After her studies in psychology at the University of Salzburg she passed several trainee programs at Vat-Tech in the USA. Her working life initiated in Recruiting and Client Relationship Management at WIFI Qualifizierungsnetzwerk in Linz, Upper Austria. Following that she startet her long term career path at voestalpine Stiftung, where she is responsible for Quality Management until today. In addition, she supports and guides participants from Vienna and Lower Austria during their application process as well as Students and Start-Ups. Special projects and the organisation of Assessment Centres complete her activities. Additionally to her main occupation Sandra is certified as auditor and assessor for Quality Management and CSR at Quality Austria.

DI Sabine Nadherny-Borutin

Secretary General of PlasticsEurope Austria

After studying food- and biotechnology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, she specialized very early on in environmental technology and waste management, as she quickly identified the combination of these topics as her calling. Her professional encompasses a wide field of activity. Starting in R&D for drinking and wastewater processing, through the development of the largest collection market for floristry and decoration, to the establishment and management of a laboratory for environmental analysis, management for a company in the field of personnel leasing, various management positions in the waste management industry, as well as intensive R&D for the waste management industry. Recently, she extended her career into research and teaching at a university of applied sciences in the field of packaging and resource management. She is a member of various working committees of the ÖWAV in the field of waste management and recycling technology, as well as the biopolymer team of the Lower Austria plastics cluster. She has held her current position in the Austrian branch of the European umbrella association of plastics manufacturers since March 2020, and since November 2020 she holds the position of section head of the OFI packaging institute. Continuous training and the exchange of knowledge are definitely the core topics for her personal path.


Dr. Christoph Müller

Dr. Christoph Müller has two decades of experience in political administration in Vienna and Brussels. His main tasks in the Ministry of the Environment, as an attaché at the Permanent Representation of Austria to the EU and as head of department in the Federal Chancellery were the conception, coordination and negotiation of the cross-cutting policies of sustainable development, the environment, climate protection, energy and transport in a national, European and international context. He also has several years of OECD experience and has participated in the UN climate conferences in Copenhagen, Cancun and Paris. He teaches in the “Sustainable Business” program at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, at the Sigmund Freud University in Vienna and at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

Dr. Michael Fembek

Journalist and Programme Manager Essl Foundation

Dr. Michael Fembek, born in 1961, graduate from Vienna University of Economics and Business. Many years of activities as a journalist at the economic magazine GEWINN (“PROFIT”), acting as the editor-in-chief from 2000 to 2007. In 2009, he initiated the CSR Yearbook and the “Sinnstifter” (“Sense givers”), an Association of non-profit foundations. From 2010, he was the Programme Manager of the Essl Foundation. He also was the initiator of the Zero Project. Since 2014, he has been a Member of the Board in the “Verband für Gemeinnütziges Stiften” (“Association for Non-Profit Endowing”). Since 2015, he has been the Chairperson of the Thematic Network on Disability in the European Foundation Centre (EFC).

Dr. Reinhard Felix Paulesich

Expert for sustainable development for companies and regions

Dr. Reinhard Paulesich has been at the Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien (Vienna University of Economics and Business) since 1991 and is teaching at the newly opened “Interdisziplinäres Institut für Umwelt und Wirtschaft” (Interdisciplinary Institute for Ecological Economics). In the early 1990’s, Mr. Paulesich re-aligned his research interests. The basis for this was formed by the structure based on Plan Do Check Act. The fact that he accompanied some First Movers with his research resulted in a design for case studies. This design has been preserved by him up to now. The case studies were (and are) at the basis of companies employing external consultants. As regards the laws relating to the waste management concept and workplace evaluation, these case studies were (and are) made supportively. Among other things, case studies serve as an incentive to improve assessment and evaluation methods (audit, rating, etc.) Still another key area is the concept of social capital.

The Basle II Regulations led up to a new research interest for Dr. Paulesich: localising an organisation’s fitness for the future and this organisation’s capability of amortisation and thus making banks and companies interested in coupling the measurement of social capital to the review of credit worthiness to an equal extent. Since 2009, we have been making case studies about this topic. This has not always been done with a focus on a relationship between a bank and a credit applicant. However, the acquisition structures have always been the same. Thus the data material will remain open for subsequent evaluations. This is why some case studies about climate protection exercised in companies could subsequently be used for analysing the capability of amortisation.

Mag. Andreas Schneider

CSR Expert

Mag. Andreas Schneider has been the Head of the Department of International Family and Youth Policies in the Austrian Ministry of Families and Youth since 2012. There he is, among other things, responsible for the youth exchange programme Erasmus+, quality aspects in youth work as well as the UN Youth and Family Policies, such as the World Programme Action on Youth. From 2007 to 2012, he worked as an expert for social policy and Corporate Social Responsibility in the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber. There he also established the standardization policy and was a Member of the Board of several CSR platforms like respACT as well as a member of the Jury of the CSR Award TRIGOS and of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Humane Market Economy. From 2004 to 2006, he worked as a policy and economic advisor in the cabinet of Ursula Plassnik, the Foreign Minister. Before 2004, he worked in the Department of European Policy of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, where he was responsible for EU enlargement, EU lobbying and the coordination of COREPER documents (“Comité des Représentants Permanents” – Committee of Permanent Representatives). Between 1999 and 2002, Mr. Schneider was responsible for the introduction of Euro cash and EU enlargement in the information office of the Austrian Federal Government.

Mag. Doris Schulz

Expert for media and public relations

Independent media expert, PR consultant, media trainer and coach. From 2009 to October 2015, she was a Representative of the Upper Austrian “Volkspartei” (“People’s Party”) in the Upper Austrian Provincial Parliament. Since 2011, she has been the Chairperson of the Supervisory Board of Wels Fair and thus the Fair President of the second largest Fair Association in Austria. She studied German philology and history at Graz University (Karl-Franzens-Universität). During that time, she had already been an editor, scriptwriter and designer for radio and TV for the Austrian Broadcasting Company.

From 1995 to 2001, she was the Managing Director, Production Manager and Editor-in-Chief of the film production company TEAMWORK in Leonding. Her work included productions for 3 SAT, Pro 7, RTL, the development of broadcasts for TV magazines, the design of museums, the first in-house TV in Austria, project development and facilitation for the Province of Upper Austria, “Girls’ Day”, “Political Training for Women”, “Volkshilfe”, Caritas, GZO Wels (“Gründerinnenzentrum Oberösterreich” – Centre of Female Founders in Upper Austria), Agricultural Chamber, Doctors’ Chamber for Upper Austria, build-up of the Staff Office PR for the “Diakonie Zentrum Spattstraße”.

Many publications in different German speaking magazines as well as narrative non-fiction books for different publishing houses. Holding a publishing house of her own, “Verlag Medienfrau”, from 2005 to 2014. In her capacity of founder and honorary spokesperson of the Women’s Network in the Upper Austrian Press Club, Mag. Doris Schulz could gather a lot of experience in political issues. From 2004, she could do so as the Chairperson of “Aktion Leben Oberösterreich” (“Campaign Life Upper Austria”) and from 2011 as the Chairperson of the “Association of Single Parents”. As for party politics, Mag. Doris Schulz worked on a honorary basis in various positions, such as those of Municipal Head of the Women of the Austrian People’s Party in Wels, Deputy Provincial Head of the Women of the Upper Austrian People’s Party, a member of the Executive Board of the Upper Austrian People’s Party (until 2015) and as an organizer of projects serving to involve citizens.

DI Agnes Steinberger

Auditor and Assessor

DI Agnes Steinberger collected important job experience as a Quality Manager in international food industry and was also active in Canada. She studied at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria, Europe. At the moment she works as a Network Partner of Quality Austria Training, Certification and Evaluation Ltd., being active as a Lead Auditor for ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 50001, OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series), ISO 22000, ONR 192500 (ON-Regel – Rule of Austrian Standards), SR10 (Social Responsibility). Moreover, she is an auditor registered in the field of CSR as far as SA 8000 (Social Accountability), CSR reports by GRI (Global Reporting Initiative), EFQM (European Foundation for Quality Management) and SMETA (Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit) are concerned. In addition, she is nominated as an expert for the models “Audit Job and Family” by the Austrian Federal Government and validates sustainability reports acc. to GRI 3.0, 3.1 and 4.0. Thanks to her profound EFQM knowledge, she is active as an EFQM Assessor and is, in particular, responsible for the Quality Seal for Socially Responsible Companies. DI Agnes Steinberger represents Quality Austria at various national and international CSR Bodies (standardization) and at conferences and congresses. In her capacity of Product Manager of CSR, she is in charge of continual further development of the portfolio. DI Agnes Steinberger is a member of the CSR Dialogue Forum, the national CSR Committee of Austrian Standards and other CSR Committees. In private terms, she runs a small mountain farm in the Province of Salzburg with her family. This farm offers her “sustainability and fitness for the future that can be touched”.

DI Harald Strommer

Montanuniversität Leoben Petroleum Engineering, Consulting im Bereich Lean Management und Produktionsmanagement, Kennzahlen und Kennzahlensysteme. Lektor an der Montanuniversität Leoben und diversen Fachhochschulen.

Netzwerkpartner Quality Austria/ Assessor und Auditor

Businesspartner “successfactory management coaching gmbh”

Gökhan Yildirim, MSc

Expert for integrative sustainable solutions in cities

In 2013, Mr. Gökhan Yildirim was the founder of the “WSE Initiative”. Since then, he has been the Director of this initiative. Since 2014, he has also been the President of the WSEIN („World Sustainable Energy Institute“), which he had established in the same year.

He studied engineering at the Technical University “Yildiz” in Istanbul (BSc). Furthermore, he completed his diploma studies at the Technical University in Vienna (MSc).
His studies were focused on integrative traffic and transport planning and “Management of Municipalities”. Mr. Yildirim is active on an international scale. In 2015, he was a speaker at the conference “Integrated Sustainable City Solutions” in Turkmenistan and participated in the “3rd World Emerging Industries Summit” in China. His key area is that of developing interactive sustainable solutions in the fields of environment, energy, mobility and community in cities.

Liangrong Zu, PhD

Corporate Social Responsibility, Business Ethics

Dr. Zu is a specialist in corporate social responsibility (CSR), business ethics, sustainability science, and social enterprise/entrepreneurship. He has been working for the central government and the United Nations (UN) for over twenty years. Currently he is a Senior Program Officer, teaching and doing research at International Training Centre of the International Labor Organization (ILO), a unique UN training institution.
Dr. Zu holds PhD in business and management obtained from Nottingham University Business School in United Kingdom, specializing in CSR, business ethics, corporate governance and enterprise restructuring. He received his master degree in economics of education in Beijing Normal University.
Dr. Zu has been responsible for designing, delivering and assessing training programs for government officials, business executives and academic professionals for over twenty years in the areas of CSR, socially responsible restructuring, sustainable enterprise development, sustainability leadership, sustainable supply chain management, and social and green entrepreneurship, etc.