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Leading Voices in Global Sustainability

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Oliver Baillie

Co-Founder & CEO - Plain Tiger

10 Questions to Change The World

July 2022

How do you think climate change and the global sustainability agenda will
impact your industry over the next 3-5 years?

Plain Tiger drives sustainable production and consumption in the beauty, fashion, home decor industries, by connecting independent sustainable brands to retailers and consumers globally. These industries are going through a revolution as governments, businesses and consumers demand more transparency.


● Governments are starting to enforce reporting and higher standards in the supply chains of companies.
● Traditional businesses are adopting more sustainable practices and startups are emerging entirely created around them.
● Consumers are increasingly valuing the environmental, social impact of their purchases.


With climate change increasingly affecting our lives and a growing number of companies being outed for unethical behaviour, these trends will be accelerated. The combination of conscious consumers, proactive governments and responsible businesses means the future of our industries is promising.

What is one ‘sustainability hack’ you’d recommend to an organisation wanting
to transform into a more sustainable operation?

Empower people at every level of your company to drive your sustainability agenda. Senior management of companies must get their teams engaged to lead sustainable change - it should not be a fully top down process.

 

The combination of conscious consumers, proactive governments and responsible businesses means the future of our industries is promising.

This can be achieved through inspiring them with a more positive vision of the company, aligning performance metrics & incentives, empowering them to change practices and ultimately recruitment decisions (hiring & firing) should be considerate of each person’s fit for your sustainable future.

Why have you embraced sustainability in your professional career?

My passion for sustainability was ignited when I joined a fintech aiming to help low income migrant workers send more money home to their families. The more I have learned about the need and opportunity for positive impact, the more committed I am to this path.

 

After a decade in banking, I’ve spent the last 6 years developing solutions for low income workers, small business owners and independent sustainable brands to prosper. I am hugely inspired by the opportunity to drive equality and help people fulfill their full potential.

What are some of the wins you have achieved in your career to date?

I am hugely inspired by the opportunity to drive equality and help people fulfill their full potential.

My wife, Alexandra & I started Plain Tiger in early 2021. No matter how much testing & market validation you’ve done, it’s a daunting prospect starting a business with global ambition from scratch!

The biggest win of my career is the Plain Tiger community we have developed. An exceptionally talented team of 10, dedicated to our mission. 250 brands across 31 countries partnering with us for their global growth. 100k followers coming to us for their sustainable products and content. Investors who believe in our vision for a more sustainable industry, and our ability to achieve it. 

  

We recently won the public vote, and placed Top 3 overall, in the Top Tier Impact ‘Most Impactful Retail Startup Globally’ competition at the World Economic Forum. As a team we took a lot of satisfaction from that, because it validated the hard work and many of the decisions we made setting a high standard of sustainability.

What do you want to have achieved before you retire?

I aim to make a meaningful difference to the lives and businesses of people I had influence over, and inspire the next generation of leaders to lead with purpose and integrity.

What advice would you give for organisations looking to start or advance on their sustainability journey?

Start by identifying what is your true passion within sustainability and how you are uniquely placed to positively impact it. Then go for it. People following their passions are unstoppable. You will hit roadblocks and doubters, but the energy you will have achieving your purpose will bust you through them. Then don’t limit your ambition, AIM BIG.

Who do you go to for inspiration in this space?

People following their passions are unstoppable. You will hit roadblocks and doubters, but the energy you will have achieving your purpose will bust you through them.

I recently attended the World Economic Forum in Davos representing the UAE for Top Tier Impact, and meeting people like Sadhguru, Deepak Chopra & Helena Gualinga, in those surroundings, was a hugely inspirational experience that I continue to draw on. 

 

TTI is a global ecosystem of impact leaders - founders, investors & professionals - and I find being a part of this group very motivating.

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- Top Tier Impact event at Davos -

How do you offset your own footprint?

I calculate my footprint using the amazing Yazy and then offset it using Pachama (https://pachama.com/ )  I’ve had them validated by the Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership as a good provider and the process is easy & affordable. Plus you get to pick which projects you support, so I can pick places that I have a special bond with like Uganda.

What is your one ‘guilty / non-eco’ pleasure? (that you can’t live without)

I love to travel. Discovering new places, people, cultures and natural environments is one of my greatest joys. I travel responsibly (for example choosing eco-tourism options) and offset the flight emissions to try and counteract the carbon footprint.

If you had to choose one person, organisation or community to lead the world in sustainability, who would it be and why?

I’m a massive Barack Obama fanboy. I think he is a wise, informed, empathetic leader who is one of the best communicators of all time. He narrated an amazing documentary on sustainability, leaning on deep understanding of many of the complex environmental & social issues. If it was my decision, I would promote him to Global President with the mandate to design & develop an equitable and sustainable way of living for all.

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Are you our next Leading Voice?

If you have a story to tell, we want to tell it…

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"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