Leading Voices in Global Sustainability
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Frederic de Rougemont
CEO, Rougemont Advisory
10 Questions to Change The World
How does climate change and the global sustainability agenda impact on your corporate strategy for the next 3-5 years?
The global sustainability agenda is one of the core themes of my advisory activity. It is therefore at the heart of my strategy. My business is about advising small to mid-size companies, via specific missions or sitting on their Board as an Independent Director. A common theme for my clients is the Sustainability Agenda.
How do you describe your corporate purpose and what are you doing to help realise that purpose?
My corporate purpose is to have a positive impact on organizations I am able to influence. In the context of the Sustainability agenda, “positive” means helping to reduce the environmental impact of our activities, and improve the social agenda as well (more diversity, less discrimination, reduce the gap between the haves and the have not’s, etc). I hope I can do that by sharing the executive experience I developed over the last 30 plus years.
I am confirming that combining economic performance and positive impact on sustainability is not only needed but is absolutely achievable.
What could stop you from achieving your sustainability goal?
Nothing really. Contrary to many organizations, customer are my only stakeholders. This means that I do not have to fight with shareholders for example on certain investment strategies. Of course, I need to grow my customer base in order to have the biggest impact as possible.
What do you think are the greatest benefits of having a strong sustainability strategy?
It is very clear that employees value sustainability more and more and the finance world seems to turn more and more to investments aiming at a potential environment and or social impact.
Fortunately, sustainability is now becoming a visible ambition for many organizations, which should provide more business opportunities for me. More importantly, companies embarking on a credible sustainability strategy have real ingredients to nurture an attractive purpose for their stakeholders. And having a genuine purpose is a very powerful driver for long term success.
What are some the wins you have achieved in your role?
I am proud to have gained some advising activities in the starting phase of my business (I started only 9 months ago) with organizations who are clearly engaged in having an environment and social impact. Some are working on reducing their CO2 emissions, some others are involved in the local community development. I am confirming that combining economic performance and positive impact on sustainability is not only needed but is absolutely achievable.
What advice would you give for organisations looking to start or advance on their sustainability journey?
Many people that I am meeting, talking and sharing experience with. They are my customers, my potential customers and my network in general.
My advice is therefore to focus on the required change management inside the company, as often the technical solutions are already known.
The main challenge remains to walk the talk and execute plans which have a material impact, i.e., creating a real change in the business model. My advice is therefore to focus on the required change management inside the company, as often the technical solutions are already known. In case some solutions are not known, do trust that by doing and progressing your actions, new solutions will appear as a natural outcome of the learning process.
Who do you go to for inspiration in this space?
How do you offset your own footprint?
Most of my work is happening from home with very little travel involved… and I have a lot to offset after years in spending hours on planes during my corporate life! As a family we are very strict on waste sorting. We drive an electric car. Also, we have invested in a geo-thermic heating system in our house. Then many small things like avoiding printing, or using printed publications (reading on a screen is getting better and better), be smart in using water when washing hands for example, etc.
What is your one ‘guilty / non-eco’ pleasure? (that you can’t live without)
I still like to travel, and I am sure I am far from perfect in how I do things every day. However, I think we should not think in terms of guilt. I do not think that we will win this battle by forcing ourselves and others to restrict their activities, or to stop developing. There are plenty of solutions which are available to move in the right direction and people will move much better by thinking positive instead of feeling guilty, but of course without complacency.
If you had to choose one person to lead the world in sustainability, who would it be and why?
There are already plenty of voices in the word, like for example Sir David Attenborough. But one person only will not be able to lead the change. What we need is a critical mass of political and economic leaders around the world who are genuinely pushing the agenda and get things done!
"If working apart we are a force powerful enough to destabilise our planet, surely working together we are powerful enough to save it. In my lifetime I have witnessed a terrible decline. In yours you could - and should - see a wonderful recovery.”
- Sir David Attenborough