The Dover PA Sustainability team will share the career transitions that helped to further align them with their sustainability aspirations and the importance of lifelong education.
Our guest speakers will highlight the need to include sustainability at every level of organisation and the opportunities for professionals to start their journey in sustainability as we drive the required change for a sustainable future.
Renee Gallant: All right. I think we'll get started then. So welcome to career journey towards Sustainability. One of our final virtual sessions of our weekend of UWCSEA's Forum Learning to Shape the Future again. I hope you've enjoyed all that we've had to offer this weekend. There have been so many virtual sessions and fantastic keynote addresses and I think that there is much work to be done coming out of this forum, which is very exciting for all of us.
So I did mention the app. Please do be sure to continue to refresh it over the rest of the afternoon to make sure you've got all the most up to date links and announcements. And if you're having any trouble, you can always email firstname.lastname@example.org or pop a question in the Q&A feature of your main menu on the app.
This session is being seen in Zoom and this is a Zoom webinar, so you will be able to participate via the chat function and the Q&A, which we'll get to later on. So keep those questions coming and we
Will invite you to join us for a more interactive session in an online networking event following this. And we will drop a link to that session in the chat room just before we leave, so that you should be able to make an easy transition into that space. So without further ado, I'd like to turn it over to our moderator for today's event.
Katarina Radosavljevic: Thank you, Renee. So hi, everyone. My name is Katarina and I'm one of the founding members and the coordinator of the Parent Association, Dover Sustainability Team. It's a great pleasure to host this panel today. Welcome to all of you. And I'm looking forward to a great discussion.
So I would. Like to introduce you first for UWCSEA parents and members of the Parent Association, Sustainability. So we have Robin Carney, worked many years as a consultant in different industries and countries and is now working for a nongovernmental organisation that protects the environment. Then we have Masayo. Masayo embarked on a sustainability career journey before sustainability was even trendy.
Her expertize is in environmental sustainability and the value chain. She's also one of the founding members of the PA Sustainability team. Then we have Armin Geltinger has been working in the financial industry for the past 20 years but is now focusing on advising and educating banks, asset managers and regulator about sustainability, climate change and ESG investing. Then finally, we have Mitra.
She has worked with the United Nations of women in China. Right now she works in the cybersecurity, focused on protecting vulnerable communities against abuse and exploitation. So for more detail about you to read the panellists biography afterwards. So welcome to the panellists. We have normally a Fifth. Panellist, but he's running a little bit late. So we hope that he can be able to join on time. So we will be carry on on the on.
On our programme.
For today sessions is that today's session is focused on three key points is the first one is to share with you how parents from the UWC community have transitioned to careers more aligned with sustainability, inspiration and how they practise sustainability at different levels within their organisation and in the areas of expertize. The second key point is to highlight how education can support this transition. Finally, our third
Key point is to encourage you to explore and find opportunities in your professional sphere to drive the required change for a sustainable future. We hope that today you will find this conversation an insightful so this. This discussion will be a brief introduction about sustainability and careers. We won't be able to go deeply into subject, so please feel free to join the networking event afterwards with your panellists.
So first I would like to start this discussion by asking the UWC parents, panellists to share with us this specific sustainability journey. So Robin, Mathaio and Armin and Smitta I would like to know what prompted you to move to career in sustainability? How did you transition to a role or a position to become more in line with sustainability? And what has been your positive, positive outcome of that change?
So I'm going to start with Robyn. Robin, please go ahead.
Robin Carney: Thank you so much, Katarina. It's really a pleasure to be here today and I'm happy to share a little bit about my career journey and how I ended up working in sustainability. So as far as the education I studied at the University of Pennsylvania as an undergrad, I studied international relations and then I got an MBA in finance, and I began my career as a management consultant with Deloitte, one of the Big Four.
As a consultant, I had the opportunity to work with businesses across many different industries. So everything from insurance to telecom to magazine publishing and the skillset that I developed was, of course, project management, but also, perhaps more importantly, an understanding of how business people think, how they prioritise, and how they decide what is important to the company or to their own personal careers.
That skill would become really important when I became a fundraiser for nonprofits, and I had to connect with successful people, decide how to position a project so that it aligned with their personal or professional goals. So Deloitte sent me on a rotation overseas to Lisbon, Portugal, which soon became home, and I chose to leave Deloitte in order to stay in Portugal long term.
In between doing some freelance consulting and having my two daughters, who are now both in high school here at UWC Dover, I was offered the opportunity to volunteer with a breast cancer charity founded by other expat women in Portugal. And this really meant something to me personally, because my mother is a breast cancer survivor. I joined their board and I was soon picking up a new set of skills, which is learning how to talk about a cause with both individuals and corporates and finding ways to work together.
So this actually led to my first paid position in philanthropy. When we moved to Belgium, I was hired to launch the fundraising unit for the largest international academic research network dedicated to finding breast cancer treatments and cures. And together with my team, we packaged some very complex medical research projects into marketable campaigns that we could use to talk to donors and easily find a match for their own priorities.
And I continued to work for this organisation even as our family moved to Warsaw, Poland had my first taste of working from home. Our family's next move was to Korea, and I spent four years there working with a women's association that raised funds for local Korean charities, such as supporting unwed mothers and being trained for new job opportunities.
The location was different and the cause was different, but the skill set really was the same. Find a way to present the project that matched the needs of the individual or the corporate that we were talking to, to try to bring them on board to support us. And then in 2019, I knew that our family was moving to Singapore and there was one cause that I most wanted to work for, which was combating climate change and saving natural biodiversity.
So I took an online course with the University of Michigan to build my understanding of those subjects. And my dream job was actually to work for WWF, the Worldwide Fund for Nature. So I was really fortunate to be invited to attend a conference where the previous WWF head of philanthropy was teaching a masterclass, and I spoke to her after the class and followed up with a conversation about my skill set, my objectives to work for an environmental nonprofit.
And luckily the stars aligned. I was hired to join her team and soon she returned to her native Australia. So I took over her role and I'm now head of philanthropy at WWF. I've been with them for two years and I feel extremely grateful that I now have the opportunity to connect with donors who wish to support green projects and the work that we do both here in Singapore and across the region.
And I still rely on the same skill set that I developed as a consultant, which is understanding people's priorities and finding a way to meet their goals through the projects that we offer. One recent project that I'm really particularly proud of is The Tiger Trail, which you may have seen. This brought awareness of the need for tiger conservation in Southeast Asia through an art trail of 33 lifesize tiger sculptures placed across Singapore for six weeks, including one designed and painted by UWC student Olivia Huang in honour of the 50th anniversary of the school, this project has really given me an opportunity to talk with new audiences about the dangers that Tigers face due to habitat
loss and poaching, how entire landscapes benefit from having a healthy tiger population, and how we must all come together to bring this iconic species back from the brink. So ending up at WWF has been a wonderful journey. It's also changed my personal sustainability journey, making me more aware of the choices that I make and how they impact the planet.
It was not a straight line, but I ended up here by going with the flow and following my goals to do meaningful work for the causes that I believe in. Thanks so much and I'll turn it back over to you, Katarina.
Katarina Radosavljevic: Thank you, Robin. Marcel, you will like to share your experience with the audience.
Masayo Hada: Sure. Hi, everyone. My name's Masayo
I'm originally from Japan. And I'm actually living in Singapore for the last 20 years, actually my. I studied international relations in the United States and I did my management degree for my masters. And I do not have any sustainability background as an academic degrees. So I think that right now I've been in this field for the last almost for 18 years.
First thing I can say is that without a degree, actually, you can look for opportunity in this sustainability field. Going back to my early days, I came to Singapore after my internship ended in the States. I started working in academia and that time I was in charge of project management for the Arts Science projects for Ph.D. students and other master's students across Pacific Rim universities.
So that time I started learning more about environmental issues. I did not know much about it. I only took one elective course, environmental related course when I was in college. So that was a time that I just I was forced to learn and be competent to be the coordinator to run
run the session for the students and academic researchers at that time then actually the interest grew and I started knowing that actually there is a position for environmental management and that time, almost 20 years ago, there was no word called sustainability or U.N. SDGs or ESG. There was a one terminology called EMS environmental management system.
This is actually for global certification or ISO 14,001. And the companies were getting this certification to be credited so that they can say that they are environmentally concerned. So I decided to go for this EMS person in charge in the Japanese consumer electric company. I did not have knowledge on ISO certification or being an auditor or assessors, so I was sent to the courses, layers of courses, and then I picked up at the time of assisting by the companies group companies with teams.
So it is possible that as long as you have an interest in questions and a learning opportunity, you are able to basically absorb the knowledge on the spot as a as a workplace. I was involved in this environmental management system and then I was at the opportunity to be the part of Haneda Japanese Printing Company, Office Printing Company in Singapore as a regional HQ to look after the environmental sustainability matters.
So there I looked more and more involved in looking after the total value chain of energy, carbon, water waste and the legislation and so on. That time the companies started picking up that they had a the terminology of ESG came up, but it was not very popular. They started we started talking about CSR. So corporate social responsibilities. So that time we had a lot of companies and a lot of the transition to be partnership with INGOs and grassroots.
So I started knowing more people by being in a part of a CSR project team. After the transition with CSR team the industry started picking up on that terminology of CSV
Creating Shared Value. So that time my I could actually feel that the companies, they started being more open to disclose what they want to do together with the stakeholders. And after that I moved to American Snack Company, where I am now. Actually, I realized changing the industry from consumer electronics or information communication technology industry to food or snacking industries.
Actually, what we are looking at at the bottom line is the same. We have to look after energy, how we are created, how we use a water, ways to recycle, how to disclose our sustainability key performance to the stakeholders. I see lots of more and more. I see lots of companies trying to diversify the sustainability agenda across divisions.
So my message is that actually it is very important for not just the one section of the companies person, but everyone in finance, engineering, procurement, marketing or sales or even operations or logistics. They all need to take and play a role for sustainability agenda for the company's ambitions. So I would say that this is very important transition right now as an industry towards 2025, 2030 and 2050, which many of the companies are setting up the goal for, let's say decarbonization is are carbon net zero transition.
More and more companies are disclosing a sustainability, non-financial data and performance and information to stakeholders. So it is very important stage of the industries together with many other industry like financial industries. So ESG is stands for environmental social governance. This is something that very one of the key hot topic and important framework for company and industries and even stakeholders to look after, to see of our sustainability journey as a whole.
So I would say that this is something that very exciting for us to be in the the actually the forefront of sustainability, the journey. And this is something that all of us, not even just in not just manufacturers, but everyone has to play a role. So that's is something that I like to leave as a message. Thank you.
Katarina Radosavljevic: Thank you. Masayo. Armin, it's your turn.
Armin Geltinger: Thanks, Kat. My name is Armin, and I'm really delighted to be part of this panel and share my personal experience with the wider UWC community. I'm from my background. I have a very common background for people who work in the financial industry. So I studied economics on an undergraduate level and then business as a postgraduate level and after university joining management consulting industry, focusing on financial services and after a number of years actually then moved on to the investment banking working for big European bank at that time in Europe.
And after a number of years there, you know, I moved slightly sideways to private banking wealth management and again spent more than 12 or 15 years as part of several European banks. Now, all along, what I have now was a scuba diving, so I started my scuba diving certification of similar time when I started my professional career. So more than 20 years ago.
And I really enjoyed that experience. It became very passionate. I really wanted to also start protecting the ocean environment because I also witnessed firsthand the effects of climate change. So, for instance, you know, when when I went diving here in Southeast Asia, I could notice over the years the change in the temperature of the surface water. Likewise, I could see coral bleaching events happening there where they used to be beautiful, large scale coral reefs and teeming with life.
And then, you know, half of it or even more, you know, just becomes an underwater desert. And likewise, plastic pollution know there's hardly any dive where I would not find any sort of floating plastic bags, nappies, plastic bottles, anything we use in our daily lives that can be found again at the bottom of the ocean. And that really started then my journey to also want to educate myself a bit more.
So I started with some online education, free courses focusing more on the on the oceans, but then slowly moving to climate change to sustainability. And then really did a couple of such courses focusing on sustainable finance strategy and sustainability, which are really then more meaningful also for my career. And then last year I left some the management consulting part behind that I rejoined afterwards and joined a company called Fitch, and as part of that group, I work in a division that actually educates and helps all the different players in the financial industry.
So my role is really that I go to commercial banks, asset management firms, sovereign wealth funds, central banks and regulators. And I talk about sustainability issues. I talk about climate change and climate risks. What kind of impact will those have to their business and to their loan, to their investments, to their clients? And then likely, as I mentioned, you know, the big buzzwords in our industry, in the financial industries, really ESG, environmental, social and governance factors which is really a different way to look at sustainability because we need sustainability in all three areas, both on the environment as well as on the social aspect and on the economic side.
And I, I train, I teach the professionals at these organisations about these issues from a very fundamental level all the way up to helping them actually then also gain some professional qualifications, such as the ESG investment qualification of the CFA Institute and that obviously they can also help those individuals in their careers and and pivot a bit their daily work in that direction.
Also making the business and the world more sustainable. Thank you and good luck to you.
Katarina Radosavljevic: Thank you. Smita would you like to share your journey.
Smita Mitra: Thank you so much, Katrina. My name is Smita Mitra and I have done my master's in social work and prior to that, I was studying political science history. So after political science, when I did my master's in social work, the gradual shift was working towards non-governmental organisations. So I worked in non-governmental organisations in India on different issues, from child marriage to sexual reproductive health and rights, maternal and child health, nutrition, and also anti-human trafficking.
So understanding the geography of India, there was a lot of trafficking some 15, 20 years back. Now it happens in a different forum. I will come to that. But cross-border trafficking was a very, very important issue in terms of gender equality and rights of children. So I was working on those issues on trans border areas of India and Nepal and in the sexual reproductive health domain, the rights of commercial sex workers, HIV AIDS, and how to prevent AIDS.
How to talk about sexuality. How to advocate sexuality education. This, by and by, brought me to my next career move, which was United Nations Women, UN Women. At that point in time it was called UNIFEM. So while I was working for UN Women, I was working very closely on issues of women, migrant workers, women who were migrating from South and Southeast Asia to the Arab region, and how their rights could be protected.
Now, if you look back at my journey, it has always been social work. It has been rights protecting the rights of vulnerable sections of the community, as well as raising the accountability of the governance machinery coming back to UN Women. I was working on different aspects of training the military and the peacekeepers before they were deployed on UN missions.
So that was largely my background with UN women while we were working with UN women. That was the time when national and regional working groups were being found in order to contribute to the formulation of the Sustainable Development Goals. So where the Sustainable Development Goals were getting brainstormed and worked upon, their targets were being formed as a UN employee and as a UN member state in India through Southeast Asian consultations and South Asia consultations.
We were contributing to the SDG that we are talking about now. So that was about South Asia and my work in India. Out here in Singapore, I work more on cybersecurity, which is also another part of protecting the cyber space for vulnerable children. COVID Times has taught us that how Internet is an important aspect of our lives, not just in terms of fun and entertainment, but also in terms of basic education for our children.
So right now, working for Interpol, I work on crimes against children, and I particularly help our member states on how to make cyberspace a safe space for kids so that they are free of any kind of abuse, exploitation, bullying. So that brings me to my career journey throughout. It has been protection of vulnerable sections of the community, whether it is in terms of human rights in the field, in the physical space, or in the virtual space, in the online area.
Thank you. Over to you.
Katarina Radosavljevic: Thank you Smita. So I think I'm sorry to say but we we haven't seen as a profession we serve connected and I'm sure there's a good reason behind I'm sorry for today so we will be taking the Q&A and maybe what I would like to say first, regarding our panellists, parents, panelists? So today you had to kind of like an overview of different careers, different expertize and different fields.
But please just keep in mind that's the concept of sustainability. It's not just a concept where we talk about environment, we talk about environment, we talk about economy, we're talking about people. So today, this is what you have panellists. Guest So we have Armin who represents everything about the economy, then we have Robin that's a that covers a part of environment part and we have a Masayo as well.
And at the end we have Smita that represents the human rights and the people. So I would like just to state that no matter which U.N. SDG goals you will you will go for, to defend your goals, it could be education, it could be gender equality, it could be climate change, it could be partnership. No matter which one you try to to to take on board, just please, just go ahead.
Because they are all interlinked and we all inter connected. So this was my my last thing to say. And because the professor will probably not join us today, I would like just to share with you my career. So for me, I'm in a transition. So my, my, my team mate already made the transition, but I'm making my transition right now.
So my background is in urbanism and urban planning and I'm also an architect. So during 12 years I worked in both of the fields. I had to design projects on a bigger scale. City scales, smaller scale interior design or design and in between also had to design buildings. So when I was practising architecture, which was no awareness of sustainability, even though I was always attracted to it, it was very difficult to implement.
And then when we when I had my daughter, I thought, oh, it's a good time maybe to think about what I would like to do next. And at that time, my daughter, a few years later joined UWC and I joined the Parent Association and we created with other parents, the sustainability team.
So at the beginning when I started, I didn't know anything about it. I mean, I knew the words, but I didn't know how do you practice it? So we started doing talks, workshops and bringing awareness about it and slowly started learning about it and this led me, after four years of leading this team and learning quite a lot to kind of like, okay, how can I move a step up in where in my journey and and then I decided to go for a course in sustainability.
So I did. The one was Cambridge Institute of Sustainability and after this course it was obvious for me that it could be very easily it would be kind of like easy to, to, to pass for my career, to continue what I know and take my skills and to adapt them for sustainability. For instance, as a designer, we design, we use materials, but we don't necessarily think about what we do with these materials.
And most of the time, like, for example, concrete ones, we demolished one building. What do we do with it? And when we when we thinking about on a project, most of the time we don't think about that. We think about cost. We think about our clients, we think about how pretty it could be, but we don't think about the reality.
What do we do once these materials are disposed? What do we do to to to do better for the environment? And so I thought the buildings generate quite a lot of carbon emissions. And I thought I have a role to play there. So I wanted to top up with with more knowledge. So my next step will be how do you understand the carbon footprint, not just on the on the surface, but a little bit more deeper and how I can drive the change in my industry.
So yeah, here we go. So I'm in the middle of this transition, so I wish I could share the success of it, but I'm just saying that it's, it's pretty easy. It's like another skill you add on your CV, but then the best thing is, okay, I do it for the next generation and I feel good about it.
It's not about myself only it's about all the other people. So, yes, so we will now maybe pause on a Q&A. And so if you have any questions for our panelists, we will be very happy to to answer So please go ahead.
Renee Gallant: I can see that we have a few questions coming in, and it looks like a lot of them would be probably interesting for each of the panellists to go around.
So maybe we could do it in the same order that each of you have spoken, if that's okay. The first one is, what would you recommend for someone leaving school now who wants to pursue a career in sustainability? And I think sort of a second part to that is what kinds of skills, mindset and knowledge give you a lump those two together.
So do you want to start with Robin?
Robin Carney: Sure. Happy to jump in on that. I think if you are leaving school now and you haven't necessarily studied sustainability or environmental studies as a subject, there are certainly a lot of resources available. A simple thing to do is just to check Coursera or other platforms which have many online courses available.
This is how I found the course that I that I took with the University of Michigan about climate change and sustainability. So if you have a specific interest, search it out. You're you're bound to find something that matches your intersts on one of the platforms and I would say, you know, your career search can probably be quite open almost every job at this stage of the world involves sustainability in some way.
So you might be hired into a role as a banker and you need to be thinking about how I may investing my client's money sustainably. How am I ensuring that we're not perpetuating the support for fossil fuels and making sure that we can make that journey to net zero? You may be hired into a fashion company and find ways to ensure that your product is long lasting, is sustainable for for long term use.
But then it has an end cycle where it can either be reused, given away or sustainably recycled. So there's there's so many different career options now. And I would say, you know, depending on what your interest is, kind of just try to do your own research, learn a little bit more about it and how you can apply sustainability concepts into the career that interest you.
Renee Gallant: Masayo?
Masayo Hada: Okay, actually I totally agree with you, Robin, and actually of course it is. Depending on what a strong field that you want to do, you have a desire to go for it, pursue. But look at the first out. What that person is is very passionate about. If it is just something to do with finance, and you're strong in numbers
While you might be very strong in science or engineering, or it could be very much talking people person. Or you can be very much interested in clothing. So these are industries across industries. It is a lot of opportunity. So you don't need to really narrow down at first sight.
If you are not a very sure. I think one way is to go for the online course to see whether the sustainability or the general studies is something that they want to pursue furthermore or thinking of the graduate studies which might help for the the mid-career or more to as they require a required knowledge and skillset so actually what you can learn is it's it's out there and there are lots of opportunities and even you change the truck from one industry to another.
It is still possible it is all interrelated and it is not something that you first pick up and oh, you made a mistake and you can't do any sustainability job anymore. It's not that you have a lot of opportunities in many ways, so don't give up if if you think it is a far from that position. And that's all I can say.
Renee Gallant: Thank you.
Armin, I think we're over to you here.
Armin Geltinger: Thanks. I can only reiterate what Masayo and Robin said. So, first and foremost, really follow, you know, your interests and your passion when you choose your subjects. And I think especially on the undergrad level, it's really more it's not so important this specific subject and try to keep it as a more generallist. And then you can specialize later on.
But essentially when you're when you then are graduating, you know, the world is your oyster. Right, especially as the first professional job you can you can apply to so many different types of roles and industries and departments, you know, in that sense, you don't need to worry too much about any particular specialisation or that you have a special master's in environmental design and systems engineering, etc..
All right. For some for some careers, some roles. Yes. You might need to have that. But for most other sustainability related roles you don't need that. And if you look at it, it's sustainability is not no longer where it's in one department of a company. And we have, you know, ten people, the sustainability team, you know, trying to make the make the company a bit more greener and a bit more some more social and accepted in the community.
It's really has become mainstream. Every single company now needs to think about how do they transition to a low carbon environment, right? Where do they buy their supplies from? Right. The components, the raw materials, what is their manufacturing or value adding process then and then when they sell it and distribute it, how do they do that? Likewise, how do they what kind of energy and heat and do they purchase?
So pretty much every single carrier nowadays will have a certain sustainability component to it. And the key is really that you're interested in it and you you read about it, you learn about it and and, you know, follow your passion. That's what I would advise.
Renee Gallant: Anything to add Smita?
Smita Mitra: I actually answered the question in the chat box, but I will just add to what my colleague said. While you are looking for courses and enrolling in courses, do keep a lookout for opportunities where you can do internships, volunteering with organisations and internships. And every time I say this in the career fair at UWC and at other places, also the master students of public policy social work because it is cross-cutting, as Armin clearly said, it is not just one level or one department and it has metamorphosed over a number of years like we have been talking about social work, social development, international development cooperation, but now it is cross-cutting throughout corporate and throughout every other
business there do look out for opportunities, not just in terms of learning from different courses online or physical, but also reach out to NGOs non-governmental organisations and foundations where you can go in and have hands on learning, do some voluntary work. That's about it. Thank you so much.
Renee Gallant: Do we want to introduce our fifth panellist? Yes, if we have time.
Katarina Radosavljevic: Professor Visser. Are you there?
Wayne Visser: Yes, good morning. I'm here, but I didn't seem to. Yes, I can turn on my video.
Katarina Radosavljevic: Also happy to be here.
Wayne Visser: Sorry. A bit early here for me, but glad to be able to join you.
Katarina Radosavljevic: So the professor is is based in the UK so.
Must be 7:00 over there isn't it. Yes. So let me introduce you very quickly. So Professor Visser is a strategic analyst. This is an academic documentary filmmaker and public speaker. So today in our panel, we wanted him to to answer specific questions about education and about his career. But I see the time, so we won't have so much time to.
These questions. So what I will ask maybe are two questions about education for our students, audience and for the UWC community. So we'll go ahead with the students first. So what do you see so far for our student audience? What do you see as an area and skills that will be especially needed in the future to meet our sustainability goals?
Wayne Visser: Yes, it's a it's an interesting question. There are soft skills, I guess, and there are hard skills from a hard skills point of view, definitely the whole STEM careers area continues to be important. So science, technology, maths, engineering, this is increasingly linked to everything. So especially with the digitization of the world, even work in sustainability is increasingly linked to technology and to the fourth industrial revolution.
So, you know, I think it's it's important if people can get some of those skills, but then there are a number of what might be called soft skills. If we look at what we really need to solve many of these challenges, it's things like systems thinking, the ability to see the connections between things. It's the ability to be resilient, adaptive, creative.
And also, you know, we need innovation if we're going to solve these problems. And as we've seen with recent crises, whether it's a pandemic or a war in Europe or a financial crisis before that, we can expect a more disrupted world. So the ability to be flexible and to adapt and to be resilient, I think are going to be absolutely key.
And so these are the kinds of skills that increasingly will be needed for people who want to work in any career, but especially in sustainability.
Katarina Radosavljevic: Thank you. And regarding the UWC community, so we're talking about to an audience of parents online, but also all the guest that they are invited to this forum this weekend reviewing their own careers. Do you have any thoughts on how they can explore the options to build a sustainability skill set. Do you see any executive education as a key options for them?
Wayne Visser: We do now, fortunately, value a lot more the idea of continuing education. So the idea that you just studied once and then had a career I think is very, very outdated. And so there are always those opportunities to keep on building our own portfolio of learning. And for example, I run the business sustainability management Online course for Cambridge University.
It's part time and we get people from all kinds of disciplines, all stages of careers, and they're able to do that alongside their job just to supplement their their own core core career. So definitely that's that's one of the elements because I think the opportunity for, you know, enhancing your own career but also supporting your children in making their choices has a lot to do with, you know, being able to understand what's changing in the world.
And, you know, I wrote an article recently which I might share with with your community afterwards, if you like, called Five Things that Parents Need to Do in order to support the move to sustainability. And, you know, a lot of that is about adapting your own work, of course, but also to make sure that they understand or are as well informed as the children, because often young people today are better informed than their parents and then questioning your own bias.
So these are things which of course, do require ongoing education.
Katarina Radosavljevic: And a last one, translating sustainability into a profession. It's not an easy concept to understand or put into practice within an organisation. How can a professional at every level in the organisation play a part to what sustainability is?
Wayne Visser: This is the idea very important actually, in social systems and in natural systems that a lot of self-organisation happens. We often think of there being a leader and then everybody else being followers, but mostly in the world, that isn't how it works. So you get self meaning effectively that everyone is a leader and so what people really need to do then is to first understand what kind of a leader they are and some of the research I've done suggests that there are four types of leaders who are wanting to make a difference.
You get the experts, people who really, you know, specialise in their knowledge and want to contribute something in terms of tasks and projects and quality of work, and they get very satisfied by that kind of work. That's a bit different from somebody who's a facilitator and really enjoys working with people, empowering others, looking after the development of others.
And then you get the catalyst who is much more interested in trying to change the organisation itself. And they have more political skills in the sense that they're always having to try and influence others to change their behaviour and then finally get the activists to it's more of a grassroots sort of person who wants to ask the difficult questions and rock the boat a little bit and really agitate for change.
And I think it really helps to understand what type of leader you are. We all actually have to put on all four of those hats, sometimes in one day or four, but we do have a gravitation towards one of them, depending on what gives us the most satisfaction. So my advice is to try to align your your formal role to that informal type of leader that you are, because that's when you'll be most effective.
And then you can adapt to, you know, whatever work happens to be. Some of the work we've done on leadership also suggests some characteristics that will be useful, such as the ability to to think long term, the ability to have moral courage, the ability to be inclusive and to empower others. So all of that will help. But mainly it's about understanding yourself and how you can be most effective as a change agent.
And once again, happy to share a little article on that for those who are interested.
Katarina Radosavljevic: Thank you, Professor Visser. OK I think we are almost at the end of the talk.
Do we have any other questions? Maybe for the professor? Would you like me to go to some of the prepared questions?
It's just kind of like, do you have any questions from the audience.
Renee Gallant: I think most of the questions have been answered in the Q&A. And you're right, we are coming close to the end of our time and we can certainly move into the online networking session where people can speak a bit more freely. Did you want to say anything in conclusion?
Katarina Radosavljevic: Yes, please. It's really crazy outside. It's a big storm.
So yeah, I would like to we'd like just to say thank you to my team mates. Smita, Masayo, Robin, Armin and Professor Visser to joining us, even if it's a little bit later than they expected. And I would like also to say thank you to the Parent Association in the college to support us on to on our initiatives and on our work.
Renee Gallant: And finally, I would like to thank you, the audience, to attending this discussion. And if you would like to to transition to the networking session, you're welcome to join us and on behalf of the college, thank you to our panelists for putting together such a great presentation, for sharing your experiences, for sharing your expertize. And we'd like to invite everyone to join us in the online networking session where you'll all be able to turn on your cameras and your microphones.
I have just dropped that link the chat there. I'll drop it in a few times as comments. Come in, please. You should be able to just click right on the link and go seamlessly into that. If you have any problems, I will leave this Zoom session open to answer any questions that you have. But the panelists I invite you to make your way over there now so that you can be there when our our audience join.
Thank you so much.
Robin Carney: Thank you.
Renee Gallant: And if there are members of the audience still here having problems, please feel free to put it in the chat. If you have any questions. Renee Tatiana has a question. Are you an optimist? Are you optimistic that we will get over this crisis? I think we're probably the panellists. I think, by the look of it, have gone into the oak meeting room already.
Katarina Radosavljevic: And.
Wayne Visser: I can answer if there's anybody else still listening and then if people have disappeared.
Renee Gallant: See, it looks like Diana looks like she might still be here.
Wayne Visser: If you want me to answer.
Renee Gallant: So I think can you repeat Janice here is that it'll be on the recording. So if you repeat the question and then the professor answers, we'll have a. Okay. Yes. Tatiana's question is, are you optimistic that we will get over this crisis.
Wayne Visser: And by this crisis, which one?
Renee Gallant: I think he she would have meant the COVID crisis, the pandemic crisis.
Wayne Visser: And so I'll give you two short answers. The one is that I think that we will learn to live with COVID. So we have adapted and we will continue to adapt and we will bounce back for sure. But we won't be living in the same world that we lived in before. And I think that's true of many crises.
That's why I mentioned resilience. So what we have to do now is to is to learn to minimise the risk of crises, of course, support each other as we go through crises and then have ways to bounce back after crises. And I think it's the same for COVID. I don't think it's going away. I think it will be with us for years and years.
But we will get better and better about continuing to with our lives and with our work. While COVID is there. But since you used the magic word, are you optimistic? I thought maybe I would just throw in some creative words on on optimism, because I think this is such a key now as we faced many, many crises. I think you may not know this, but I'm not only in and a professor, I'm a poet.
So for for anyone still listening, I'm going to just share a short poem called To Be an Optimist. And it goes like this to be an optimist, not because the future is bright, but because bright people are working to make the future better. Be an optimist, not because the news is good, but good people are showing that change is always possible.
Be an optimist not because the world is fair, but because fair people are fighting for justice. Wherever it's needed. Be an optimist, not because you ignore the facts, but because the landscape of wide effects tell a story of remarkable progress. Be an optimist not because the glass is half full, but because we always have the chance to tap a greater source of power.
Be an optimist not because you are blind and deaf and dumb, but because you see and hear and speak more clearly what is possible. That's just an extract from it. So, you know, I think it's also an attitude, optimism and hope. And it's it's not necessarily all about the circumstance itself.
Renee Gallant: Oh, sorry. Tatiana actually added that it was about the climate crisis and she's talking about the net zero goals.
Wayne Visser: Oh, I see. Yeah, well climate. I could answer it in a similar way. We, we are living and we will live in a climate damaged world and things will get worse before they get better. Will we make it to net zero? Are we moving in the right direction and are we moving fast enough? These are difficult questions. But, you know, I believe we are actually.
I think we we are reaching tipping points on many of the issues, many of the changes that need to be made. They're not easy changes. This is another industrial revolution. But we are seeing a convergence between policy reform, social movements like the climate strike movement and extinction technology breakthroughs and market opportunities. And what these are doing is all reinforcing one another.
So although it seems like the change that we're having is too slow and you know that we won't make it, I actually think if you understand how change happens, it's never linear. It's it's more like how a virus spreads. So I think we will see of an acceleration of change in the next decade which will astound people. And I think that we we will actually get to net zero by 2050, but we will live in a climate damaged world even at 1.5 degrees.
This is a very challenging world to live in. So once again, the important message about resilience and building resilience and being adaptive. And then, of course, we do do everything we can to start drawing down the carbon even beyond net zero to become climate positive. But it's going to be a bumpy ride. The important thing is that everybody needs to do what's in their power and and all of those changes accumulate through the system and amplify each other.
But everybody needs to be extremely bold in their actions. It's the time for small symbolic gestures is over. It really is a time of of changing how we live, how we work, how we eat. For example, radically cutting down on meat consumption, red meat especially. These are all things that we can do. How we get around with transport, whether we drive electric or just use public transport, what we buy, whether we are buying low carbon products, all of these things make a difference.
Renee Gallant: Thank you very much. Thank you, Professor.
So, Roni, should we pass to the next session so this one can continue? Because it seems that time looks like most people have stayed here. There are a couple of people in the.
Katarina Radosavljevic: In.
Renee Gallant: The actually looks like there's one participant in the online networking. I can ask him to return here and I think is they will have to just continue to ask the questions through the Q&A. They can't turn their videos and cameras and microphones on the question of the.
Katarina Radosavljevic: Questions.
Renee Gallant: Yeah, I think we answered all of the questions that were in the Q&A and Twitter answered some of them.
Katarina Radosavljevic: And.
Renee Gallant: She typed a lot of them in and we addressed a number of.
Katarina Radosavljevic: Them.
Wayne Visser: Maybe if you will indulge me further, I'm just so conscious that that we we live in trying times and we're all struggling to make sure that we we stay positive and proactive. And I just think that hope is is one of the skills, if you want to call it a skill that we all need, whether we're teachers or students or, anybody else, really.
And, you know, this is something that I just feel like we need to talk about. We need to we have young people, many of whom are in despair, many of whom don't want to bring their own children into the world because they think that the world is not going to be a good place. And and I think that we have to deal with that.
And that's part of our role as teachers as well, is to, you know, firstly, work as hard as we can to make the changes so that it will be a better world, but also to to deal with hope. And hope isn't necessarily about things all being bright and shiny and rosy. Hope is actually a strategy for coping in the world.
And there's a beautiful book called Hope in the Dark, which recommend by Rebecca Solnit. I actually write about it quite a lot in my book, Thriving as well, but I just wanted to share a quote from Rebecca because I think it tells us why hope is so important and what hope really is, she says hope is not a lottery ticket.
You can sit on the sofa and clutch feeling lucky. It is an X. You break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the Earth's treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal. To hope is to give yourself to the future.
And that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable. So I think that's really a powerful message.
Renee Gallant: Thank you, Professor, from your parents panellists, do you have any questions for the professor? I mean, I had an opportunity to have lectures and a few panel discussion with the professor, but do you have any questions for him.
Katarina Radosavljevic: If I may ask a question, Professor, this I mean, you're working at one of the most prestigious university in the world. And through your experience, how do you see that as an industry? Right, as an institution, also change in terms of, you know, compared to ten, 20, 30 years ago when we went to university, essentially.
Wayne Visser: Yeah, it's interesting. Right. So Cambridge is an 800 year old institution. So we sometimes joke that it takes 800 years to change anything, but it's clear that there are changes. I mean, what I have noticed and I've been now working in this area for more than 30 years, is that this really used to be something marginal, something like a specialist area that a few people would choose because they're interested or they're passionate about it.
What I see now is that it really starts to be integrated into every subject. So if you're if you're studying at the business school, you will, you know, come across sustainability. You probably do a, you know, a mini course on the circular economy, for example, the engineering department, you know, they they they're, you know, centre they have is a centre for Sustainable Development Architecture Department renamed the department Sustainable Architecture.
You know, so what we see is that it's just become mainstream because it touches every single subject. And that's really what we need. Now, not everybody is there still, you know, some institutions are offering this as elective called an elective course. That's a first start, but it can't end there because really what you need is every subject to integrated, every teacher, every lecturer to integrated into their subject.
What we've done at Antwerp Management School, where I also have a role, is we have a compulsory course called Global Leadership Skills. And I think this is quite a useful approach because it combines three core subjects, one of which is sustainability. We call it societal consciousness, but the other two are equally important. The second one we call Global Perspectives, and this is all about how you learn to work in diverse teams to respect and understand different cultures.
And then the third is self-awareness. So that is, you know, how, how do you build that consciousness of who you are and, you know, what type of personality you have and how you can be most effective in the world. So I think that's a really powerful combination. And I haven't seen too many institutions, education institutions that have combined in that sort of way.
And yet for me, those are know, three key things that work together so well. So it's very, very different to what it was ten, 20 years ago. You know, we could actually say that the last global financial crisis was probably the fault of all the MBA teachers. Right. The business schools for decades had just been telling people it's all about the money.
But that has changed. And, you know, we really to see that it's mainstreamed. So now the now the challenge, I would say, for educational institutions is it's no longer in this world about information or even about knowledge, because we all have knowledge and information our fingertips just by using a search engine. So now the teaching needs to be about how do you navigate that knowledge, including all of the fake news out there or, you know, all of the contradictory science, even how you help students to make sense of what's out there.
So what we really need to give them now are tools and frameworks for differentiating what's true, what's helpful, telling them how to find and evaluate information. You know, these become really important because also in the social media world, of course, people just rely on whatever's trending and often what is trending is that very little relation to the to the science, for example.
So to give a trivial example right, I often if I'm talking about renewable energy and electric cars, you know, the first thing that I often get from classes is they'll say, yeah, but I heard that, you know, it's the electric car is it's not as clean as a as a petrol or diesel car because, you know, it has all these other impacts.
Well, that's true. It has other impacts. It uses metals in the battery and and so on. But compared to a fossil fuel car, it's it's way, way, way better, you know, even when you're powering it with a dirty grid that's still powered by fossil fuels. And so it gets cleaner all the time. And there are companies that are already setting up to recycle the batteries and and so on.
So you need to be able to have those debates, those discussions. It's the same with, you know, climate change as an example. So I spend a whole three hour class with my master's students just using that as a lens to to promote their thinking. So you take something like the Conference of Parties that was held in Glasgow last year at COP26.
So most people coming out of that conference, at least if you read the media, you would see that this is a failure. And so I really use that to question that conclusion and say, okay, well let's really look at it. What, what went down there and? And when you use the underlying principles of systems thinking or thriving, what you discover is that actually it wasn't a failure.
It moved us quite dramatically in the right direction. But you need to give those thinking skills and those analytical skills to the pupils and the students. I think that's really important. You see, there's a question of capitalism. Do we still have time to answer that?
Renee Gallant: Yes, we need to have 2 minutes, 2 minutes before we wrapping up.
Wayne Visser: So capitalism is the dominant system today? I think it's the main maybe even the only game in town, but it's not the same thing in different parts of the world. So what we've got is a diversity of capitalism. And the discussion should be what kind of capitalism do we need that is going to serve us as society? Because we've we've seen some versions of capitalism that really don't serve society.
On the one extreme, shareholder driven capitalism has actually been pretty disastrous and has only served the people at the top. It's made the rich richer and left a lot of them be a lot of society. And on the other hand, you get very autocratic if you like, the oligarch type capitalism, which I think has also been pretty disastrous.
But then you get to, you know, more a kind of social welfare capitalism or what the World Economic Forum is calling stakeholder capitalism, which I think is a much better model for for working with. There's also talk around long term capitalism. And I think that's one of the key challenges that we have is how do we take this very short term, you know, very myopic, very focused on on the money sort capitalism and turn it into something that really considers the future.
And I think there are experiments in all those types of capitalism in different countries, the world. We have to change our measures. What we measure progress by certainly not gross domestic product anymore. And we have to change the mechanisms we have to question even the politics, because I think you've noticed around the world most national politics is pretty broken, especially these two party systems.
And it's it's mostly corrupted by by companies. And so, you know, we have to change the capitalist system more and more, but it is the system we need to work with. It's a very elegant system for distributing goods and services, but it, in my view, is actually and I realize this plays to your context, but we do actually need a strong government in capitalism because leaving the markets to themselves, which is really the experiment that ran in the United States for a couple of decades, really didn't work.
I mean, it enriched a few and left the rest behind. So we do need governments to, in economic jargon, to internalize the external costs that are being placed on society and the environment. We need them to set the rules of the game and to set those long term targets like net zero and other targets, and then allow business through capitalism to innovate to get to those higher levels of of quality of life.
Renee Gallant: Thank you, Professor. So I think we are at the end of the sessions and we would like to thank you for being there today. US and yes, we hope you enjoyed the end of the day and you can too. Logging on to other talks today on the on the platform ongoing on the campus. And thank you and have a great weekend.
Bye bye. I thank you, everyone.
Wayne Visser: Thanks, everyone.
Renee Gallant: Thank you. Bye bye. Thank you. Bye.
Meet the Speakers
Head of Philanthropy at World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and PA Dover Sustainability Volunteer
Corporate Sustainability Lead and PA Dover Sustainability Founding Member
Advisor and Trainer at Fitch Singapore and PA Dover Sustainability Volunteer
Criminal Intelligence Specialist with Interpol and PA Dover Sustainability Volunteer
Architect and PA Dover Sustainability Founding Member
Head Tutor and Lecturer at University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, Professor of Integrated Value at Antwerp Management School, and Director of Kaleidoscope Futures