“Sustainability is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a fundamental business choice for long-term survival and prosperity.”
Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Kline & Company
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Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Kline & Company
My team at Kline, a global management consultancy and market research firm, provides market research and consulting services to some of the world’s leading companies in the energy, consumer, chemicals and agriculture industries. I believe that providing more research on sustainability topics will bring significant value to our clients’ success. There’s a huge shift happening globally from shareholder to stakeholder capitalism, and I hope Kline can contribute to guiding companies through this evolution and helping them make decisions that lead to sustainable financial success for the long-haul.
TED Talk speaker and author Simon Sinek is a huge inspiration to me. I was introduced to his ‘Start With Why’ theory a few years ago; his philosophy is that when businesses have a clear purpose that their employees believe in (why they do what they do), the business will be more successful and employees will be happier, more successful and more productive. This idea has since guided my interactions with clients, as well as how I manage and motivate my team. I embrace the idea of the power of purpose being integrated into sustainable business models as the formula for business success in the future, and truly hope that I can contribute to making sure that our success will develop based on these values as well.
There are many reasons why sustainability has become such a hot topic, from consumer sensitivity and demand for more ethical products to a greater awareness of climate change and the impact of pollution on our planet. I’m pleased to see that one of the leading influences here in Europe has come from our government’s commitment to a low-carbon future with the European Green Deal. During these trying times, our governments have an opportunity to create policies and incentives that help economies recover from COVID-19 while contributing towards established sustainability objectives.
The sustainability agenda can help our economies and societies emerge from this crisis stronger, cleaner and healthier than before. An example: I live near Lake Maggiore in northern Italy and my husband and I recently decided to renovate an old, abandoned farmhouse. Because of the economic crisis, Italy recently introduced new tax breaks for people working on their homes to improve their energy efficiencies and make them more environmentally friendly. We’re benefiting from this new stimulus programme and, at the same time, our project will contribute to job creation, economic stimulus, beautification of our community and a low-carbon future.
“The desire to ultimately build a division at Kline focused on sustainable business initiatives that support our clients was a key factor in me applying for the Sustainability Leadership and Corporate Responsibility (SLCR) online programme.”
I was born in Marin County in the north-western part of the San Francisco Bay Area, but I’ve moved around a lot over the years. About 20 years ago, I relocated to Lake Maggiore for my ex-husband’s work. Initially, I commuted into Milan for three hours each day, but eventually decided to give up my job when I fell pregnant with my first child. I started working in consulting positions from home with US partners and eventually found a full-time role with Kline that allowed me to be based from home too. I’m fortunate enough to be able to continue my career while also raising my children in a beautiful, safe, clean place. I was attracted to Kline for their forward-thinking, progressive attitude which allowed me to work remotely and eventually move into a senior management role with a sales team of 20 spanning four continents – all from my rural Italian base.
Our company recently carried out an internal survey and found that most of our staff prefer to work from home, but also like to have the option of a smaller office space where they can meet and catch up with colleagues when needed. I believe this trend of smaller offices, more remote working and less commuting is here to stay. And this is another example of how the implementation of the right measures can help a company save money, offer a better quality of life to employees, and lessen the negative impact on the environment.
Multinational companies are shaping their business objectives around sustainable policy initiatives as well as focusing on increasing buyer demand for products and services that are kind to the planet. This is particularly pronounced in the energy sector, where we’re seeing a substantial shift by the oil and gas majors to add a significant mix of renewable energy to their portfolios, as well as make strong, tangible ESG commitments for the future. We’re also seeing this trend in the other industries we serve; cosmetics and toiletries suppliers are making significant shifts towards naturals, organics and green products. The common thread among many of our clients, regardless of industry, is the fact that they are now consciously and purposefully embedding the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their business models; this is a result of government policies as well as consumer demand.
The desire to ultimately build a division at Kline focused on sustainable business initiatives that support our clients was a key factor in me applying for the Sustainability Leadership and Corporate Responsibility (SLCR) online programme. I’d already attended another sustainable business strategy course, as well as a course on the GRI Standards – the first global standards for sustainability reporting. But I knew I needed something more in-depth and practical to move forward. Having taken a senior management course at LBS (Essentials of Leadership with Professor Dan Cable), I was really excited when I saw the school was launching a new leadership programme on sustainability. This was an opportunity for me to have another LBS experience and learn how to create a strong business case for incorporating sustainability into our business, a move that I believe is crucial if we want to thrive in the future.
Professor Ioannis Ioannou, who led the course, did an incredible job of bringing the subject to life with interesting case studies and practical frameworks. Additionally, we were given weekly ‘missions’, where we were asked to apply what we’d learned that week to our own business objectives for taking the course. It was extremely helpful for me to put these concepts into a practical plan, utilising the knowledge that I’d learned during the course to build my case for sustainability. It was also revealing and illuminating to hear what my peers, some with many years of experience in sustainability, shared during the feedback from these missions.
SLCR gave me the tools I was looking for to create a convincing business case for sustainability within our organisation. It helped me by providing concrete examples of businesses that have fully integrated sustainability into their business model and shown great success and competitive advantage as a result. We looked at a study of 180 companies from the early 1990s to 2010. Those that adapted sustainable business models outperformed those that stayed ‘traditional’ by a landslide! Another clear example was after the recession of 2007-2009, where the companies that invested in R&D and sustainability were the ones that emerged as winners. These tangible examples were very helpful in providing a strong argument for sustainability as a profitable path for the future.
The online format of SLCR worked well for me: with children and a household to manage, as well as a busy job, it’s unlikely I would have been able take time out to attend the course in London (as enjoyable as that would have been). In addition, if it had been a physical programme, it would have been cancelled and I would have missed out. I got everything I needed from the virtual format and Professor Ioannou was incredibly engaging. The cohort was an interesting mix of sustainability experts, industry experts and senior management, which made for stimulating company and a fascinating insight into the different sustainability challenges and opportunities facing different sectors and industries.
Sustainability is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a fundamental business choice for long-term survival and prosperity. That message is resonating with businesses now more than ever as they begin to think about how they will navigate the post-COVID world. I look forward to being a positive influence and contributor in helping them find a way through these challenges and towards a more sustainable, profitable future.
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