Leading Voices in Global Sustainability
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CEO, Grey Group Singapore
10 Questions to Change The World
How do you think climate change and the global sustainability agenda will
impact your industry over the next 3-5 years?
I believe that the marketing services industry will get under bigger pressure to stop any marketing activities that could be qualified as greenwashing. Whether and how we work with clients from the eco-system of polluter companies is also likely to get scrutinised further. More importantly, I believe in the next few years, the industry will apply its creativity more systematically across all clients to accelerate our shared path towards accomplishing the UN’s Sustainable development Goals.
What is one ‘sustainability hack’ you’d recommend to an organisation wanting
to transform into a more sustainable operation?
What if we gave every single employee some kind of sustainability KPI? This may not be neat or easy, but the only way to really accelerate change in corporations is to start an internal movement and this could be the short-cut.
This may not be neat or easy, but the only way to really accelerate change in corporations is to start an internal movement
Why have you embraced sustainability in your professional career?
When I learned about the magnitude of the challenge, it became clear to me that the legacy I would like to leave is to have contributed in a meaningful way to fighting climate change and plastic pollution. I am really just getting started, and I decided to create positive impact within and outside of my formal job.
What are some of the wins you have achieved in your career to date?
For My first win was the realisation that I can become an activist CEO
My first win was the realisation that I can become an activist CEO. If I lived in Europe, I would probably participate in physical protest activities, but here in Singapore, it’s more about soft influencing. I started with my own organization educating and activating my teams. Second, we created a sustainability practice that allows us to have continuous dialogue with our clients and prospects about sustainability and how to turn it into a competitive advantage for our clients. All in all I want Grey Singapore to be known for as a triple bottom line agency
What do you want to have achieved before you retire?
Retire from what is the question – I can safely say that I will never retire from helping the world become a better place. My professional context may change over the next decade, but I am sure that I will always find new ways to contribute. In fact I found one already: I started angel investing in sustainability start-up’s, for example my money is on green hydrogen.
What advice would you give for organisations looking to start or advance on their sustainability journey?
When I see teenagers in Europe protesting, it gives me a lot of hope, many of these passionate young people will take on careers in sustainability, and we need all of them, given how much we have to accelerate the reduction of carbon emissions. For people who are more mid-career, my advice is to simply start educating yourself. There are plenty of courses on EdX and Coursera; another great option is to join the Climate Reality Project (www.climaterealityproject.org) which I am also part of.
Who do you go to for inspiration in this space?
For people who are more mid-career, my advice is to simply start educating yourself.
I feel very inspired by the many entrepreneurs and innovators in this space. I just read a quote from Larry Fink that “the next 1000 Unicorns will be in climate tech”. Hopefully we can steer our brightest engineers to apply their talent to sustainability rather than, say, the metaverse.
- Konstantin Popovic at Agency Beach Cleanup -
How do you offset your own footprint?
Well, the first exercise is to reduce your footprint. The biggest swing item with regards to my family’s footprint is the reduction in meat consumption. In terms of offsetting, we have switched our search engines to Ecosia, which means we are planting trees every day.
What is your one ‘guilty / non-eco’ pleasure? (that you can’t live without)
Confession time: we use Nespresso. Yes, we bring the empty capsules back for recycling, but I know there are more eco-friendly ways to consume good coffee.
If you had to choose one person, organisation or community to lead the world in sustainability, who would it be and why?
I am going to surprise people by nominating Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you have seen his January 6 video and more recently his video addressing the Russian people, you can see that his communication skills and persuasiveness are off the charts. Imagine if he joined the sustainability movement in a prominent way – it would help us getting out of the “preaching to the converted” trap, he would reach many new audiences, including climate deniers.
"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