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57 minutes | 3 years ago
#40: Professor Tim Jackson on The Humanity of Progress
My guest today is Tim Jackson. Tim is Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey where he’s Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP). He’s spent over thirty years involved in multi-disciplinary research and policy development on sustainability, in particular his work as Economics Commissioner on the UK Sustainable Development Commission. Tim is probably best known around the world as the author of ‘Prosperity Without Growth’, a polemic treatise on our addiction to economic growth that he first published in 2009 in the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis, and that he has recently re-published as a substantially revised and updated 2nd edition. What’s not so well known is Tim’s parallel career as an award-winning playwright with numerous radio-writing credits for the BBC. I spoke to Tim online from his office at the University of Surrey in the UK. We talk about him feeling compelled to become a reluctant, accidental economist, in order to master the arguments for why the human race behaved the way it did, so he could unpick them. We talk about the creative tension between left brain and right brain, which one of them is really in control, and how his parallel career as a playwright nourishes his work as an academic. We talk about AI and why we must cling onto humanity, and the inner core of what the human spirit is, as our central tenet of progress.
42 minutes | 3 years ago
#39: David Croft on Building Trust Through Action
My guest today is David Croft. David is Global Sustainability Director for Diageo, a leading global drinks company with brands like Smirnoff, Guinness and Johnnie Walker, where he’s responsible for their work on environmental and social sustainability around the world, working with farmers, communities and manufacturers within an international supply network. David has spent his entire career in food and grocery, having previously held senior roles at Waitrose, Kraft, Cadbury and the Co-Operative Group. He’s also a long-standing member of the Food Ethics Council. I spoke to David online from his office in London. We talk about him starting out in environmental health and safety and the benefits he gained from working for stakeholder-centric organisations early in his career. We talk about the ubiquity of technical solutions and the scarcity of skills to actual execute on them. We talk about the importance of understanding how to design and activate people-centric systems, how to contextualise your language and the fundamental importance of building trust through actions. David also talks about the potential application of the ‘Bradley Curve‘ (originally developed by DuPont for managing health and safety) to the embedding of sustainability into an organisation.
43 minutes | 3 years ago
#38: Valentina Velandia on Being An Accidental Entrepreneur
My guest today is Valentina Velandia. Valentina is co-founder of Capacity, a Swiss-based organisation founded in 2015 with the objective of achieving radical inclusion in Zurich and beyond. Born in Colombia, Valentina is a specialist in gender policy and has studied and worked in the US, Singapore and Europe. Capacity serves as a tool for pursuing her deepest interests in migration and social inclusion. I spoke to Valentina face-to-face at the United Nations in Geneva, where we were both speaking at a conference on social innovation. We talk about being born in a boat in the middle of the Amazon river and spending her first 3 years living in the jungle, about her name Valentina meaning ‘the brave’ – named after (and has tattoo of) astronaut Valentina Tereshkova. We talk about her mother and grandmother as strong female role models, and of her turning point for wanting to focus on feminist theory at university whilst doing communication studies. We talk about her background as an elite volleyball player being responsible for her goal-setting behaviour and her ambition, and about her becoming an accidental entrepreneur out of commitment to the gender agenda and a lack of work.
39 minutes | 3 years ago
#37: Oscar Rodriguez on The Flywheel of ‘To Do’ Lists
My guest today is Oscar Rodriguez. Oscar is founder and director of Architecture & Food, a design consultancy specialising in Building Integrated Agriculture which he founded in 2012 and which has been at the forefront of the urban agriculture movement. Oscar is a Registered architect educated at Cambridge, Cardiff and UCL, and has broad practical experience from 10 years at world class practices such as Foster + Partners. I spoke to Oscar online from his home in London. We talk about his earliest childhood memories of visiting his family in rural Spain where derelict farm buildings overrun with plants, the juxtaposition of nature and artifice, wanting to become an architect, the professional crisis point leading to a fascination with urban agriculture and, more broadly what he calls ‘energetic reorientation’ towards cities harnessing the sun. We talk about the importance of balancing the mundane with the audacious, keeping sane through ‘to do’ lists and diversifying your risks, as well as attitudes to failure, achievement and happiness.
34 minutes | 3 years ago
#36: Dr Shaun Davis on The Role of Followership
My guest today is Dr Shaun Davis. Shaun is Global Director of Safety, Health, Wellbeing and Sustainability at the Royal Mail Group, one of the world’s oldest postal services dating back over 500 years and employing over 160,000 people to deliver 58 million items per day across the UK. Shaun joined Royal Mail Group in 2012 and has since led improvements across a wide range of areas including accident prevention, employee attendance, wellbeing, physical and mental health. I spoke to Shaun by phone from London. We talk about how he can trace his passion for safety and worker welfare back to childhood with his father working in steel mills, how a strong sense of imposter syndrome throughout his career has led to him acquiring qualifications in a very deliberate and targeted way to build credibility and empathy with other functional and operational colleagues. We talk about how to drive change in large organisations by taking people along with you whilst giving them the space and time to make informed decisions for themselves, and we talk about the importance of professional and personal mission and how it creates a very powerful form of servant leadership. Shaun has also kindly provided us with the guest blog article below. ‘Leadership’ and ‘Followership’ – two sides of the same coin? “Leadership” continues to enjoy a ‘celebrity’ status in the world of training and is ‘in vogue’ especially in health & safety circles often buddied up with behavioural change initiatives – but what of followership – is this given the same air time? From my experience, no. There is an aspect of followership in all of us, even at the very top of organisations; presidents and prime ministers of democratic nations lead their countries, but they follow the will of the people, or they fall. The mistaken credit of all successful outcomes to ‘leaders’ yields a mistaken belief that leaders matter and followers do not, even though research highlights that followers, not leaders, account for 80% of the success that organisations enjoy. Of course organisations need both leaders and followers; in a hierarchical organisation, which most are, it is a truism that leaders and followers are sometimes one and the same person, but there are the inevitable complexities involved in juggling these two roles successfully. Advocating and practising ‘responsible followership’, defined here as “the active engagement of individuals working within an organisation, demonstrating independent, critical judgement of goals, tasks and methodology” is a tall order. Yet, it is one that most health & safety professional do on a daily basis, usually unwittingly and without any specific training in how to go about it. We know now that leaders are not born to the role and that leadership can at least be learnt; moreover, it is becoming increasingly clear that leadership is not an exclusive property of men and women holding high office but the emphasis is to be, and be seen to be, on leadership, rather than leaders themselves. In this sense, the key point I am making is – what is expected more and more these days is leadership being practised, shared, at all levels of an organisation, rather than transmitted exclusively from the top down and that we all have our unique role to play, So, what of followership. This recent paradigm shift has implications for the responsibilities of the people lower down the chain. Are they co-leaders or only the led? may be a moot point at certain levels of a chain-of-command; in an organisation where distributed leadership is practised, a greater awareness exists of the importance of social relations in the leader/follower compact. In summary then, defining followership, as opposed to the term followers, is as difficult as defining leadership; both terms have complex, often personal meaning, bringing to mind different things to different people. One marked difference between the two concepts, though, is that significantly more people have tried to define leadership, and the concept of followership has not yet gripped so many leadership scholars – why not pick up the subject yourself, you never know what you might find.
32 minutes | 3 years ago
#35: Rachel McLelland on Finding Focus and Purpose
My guest today is Rachel McLelland. Rachel is founder of The Beautiful Life, a creative company producing content across a variety of channels including film, radio, podcasts, blogs and print to promote a sustainable future for all. She also provides creative consultancy to ethical businesses. Rachel spent fifteen years in the entertainment industry working across TV, film and music, delivering projects for a number of high profile clients including Jay-Z, Calvin Harris and the BBC. I spoke to Rachel online from her home in Manchester, England. We talk about a lifelong passion for animals and how this informs her legacy mindset and life goal to change the world for animals. We talk about her lost years, placing career above purpose and the abrupt traumatic end to it all, which created the resolve to re-focus on aligning her passion and purpose to her skills, leading to what is now the happiest, most productive phase in her career to date. Check out Rachel’s new series of film shorts for Global Meat Free Week here
38 minutes | 3 years ago
#34: Daniel Buchbinder on Contextualising Your Approach
My guest today is Daniel Buchbinder. Daniel is CEO and founder of Alterna Impact, a social ‘business cultivator’ based in Guatemala that launches and supports grass-roots ventures to address social issues. With a background as a serial entrepreneur, Daniel along with his team of 30 staff, work with over 1,000 social ventures across Central America. As such, he brings both the worm’s eye view and the helicopter view of where entrepreneurial change agents for sustainability need the most support. I spoke to Daniel online from his office in Guatemala. We talk about him self-identifying as entrepreneurial only with hindsight, about how dissonance between his own values and his corporate employer provided the trigger for launching his first social venture, about how he couldn’t have launched Alterna without first developing deep empathy with his customer base of social entrepreneurs by having been one himself. We also talk about his obsession with innovating the business incubator model to create a ‘business cultivator’ based on a deep understanding of entrepreneurs’ needs, about investors’ obsession with scale and the need to contextualise what it means, and why he is launching an impact fund.
32 minutes | 3 years ago
#33: Kresse Wesling MBE on Being A ‘Do’ Leader
My guest today is Kresse Wesling. Kresse is a Canadian-born serial environmental entrepreneur who builds businesses that make money whilst having a positive impact on the environment. Kresse founded her first business, an environmental packaging alternatives company, in Hong Kong in 2002. By 2004 she launched this business in the UK and has since helped to build two other green business projects; Babaloo, a mother and baby business and Yew Clothing, a line of eco-sports and casual wear. Then in 2007, Kresse launched Elvis & Kresse, which turns industrial waste into innovative lifestyle products and returns 50% of profits to charities and organisations related to the waste. They began life and immediately made the headlines making handbags from decommissioned fire hose. On top of this, Kresse has found time to serve as a Social Enterprise Ambassador for the UK Government and as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. I spoke to Kresse from her office in Rochester, England. We talk about her seeing waste as a design flaw, about feeling compelled to act to solve environmental problems and her sense of ownership and responsibility for finding scalable solutions, the advantages of ignorance and of keeping busy, and we talk about her preference for being a ‘do’ leader rather than a thought leader.
26 minutes | 3 years ago
#32: Venkatesh Valluri on Building An Authentic Personal Brand
My guest today is Venkatesh Valluri. Venky is founder and chairman of both Valluri Technology Accelerators and Valluri Change Foundation, both of which he established following over 30 years of senior leadership experience in technology-based multinationals such as HP, GE and latterly Ingersoll Rand, where he was Chairman until 2015. I spoke to Venky face-to-face in Delhi, India. We talk about the myth of trade-offs between impact and profit, about being entrepreneurial within large corporates, the personal epiphany that led to him leaving to create his own company, the centrality of having positive social impact and that whilst a good business brand is important, the long-term building of a strong, authentic personal brand is much more so.
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