In Conversation with Barbara-Anne Richardson Sustainability and Communications Manager at HEINEKEN Ireland

BITCI News - Leadership - Aug 01, 2019

This month we are thrilled to introduce you to Barbara-Anne Richardson, the Sustainability and Communications Manager at HEINEKEN Ireland. Read about Barbara-Anne’s career, how she stays inspired whilst also learning the fascinating sustainability journey of HEINEKEN Ireland.

Please describe your role and responsibilities and how many years you have been in the company

My role as Sustainability and Communications Manager involves working as part of the Corporate Affairs team to deliver HEINEKEN Ireland’s Brew a Better World sustainability strategy and to help to tell our story with pride across all internal and external channels.

With just over 8 months in the business I am learning something new every day and continue to be impressed with the level of commitment from across the entire global and local organisation which helps make HEINEKEN Ireland a truly Green Brewer.

 What was your background previously? How did you enter the CSR/sustainability field?

My background is in consumer marketing having worked for brands such as Ballygowan, Waterford Crystal and Slendertone. Immediately prior to starting with HEINEKEN Ireland I worked for Cork Chamber of Commerce for eight years, which gave me huge exposure to the wider business community whilst developing a sense of what was required by businesses and their people on sustainability.

When the role of Communications and Sustainability Manager at HEINEKEN Ireland came up it seemed like such a great transition to move back to industry while still holding that sense of purpose to do good and to learn from some of the best in the industry.

How has the sustainability/CSR programme evolved at your company?

At HEINEKEN Ireland, sustainability is a top priority and is backed up by an action-driven approach with measurable outcomes.  The global strategy, Brew a Better World, is our sustainability road map and our compass on a journey that started over a decade ago towards becoming a truly greener brewer and it now permeates every part of our brewery and business.

Our latest sustainability report for 2018 captures how far we’ve come in that decade.  It also sets stretching targets for how much further we want to reach by 2030 to ensure our business continues to make a positive contribution to the environment around us.

The Brew a Better World sustainability strategy has six key focus areas that are linked to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and include reducing emissions, protecting water resources, advocating responsible consumption, sourcing sustainably, growing with our communities and promoting health and safety.

To highlight some of the recent key results – HEINEKEN Ireland is a zero waste to land fill business meaning all waste produced is recovered and reused or recycled. We are leading the charge on carbon as founding signatories to Ireland’s first carbon pledge with Business in the Community. Across our production process we have reduced CO2 emissions by a transformative 58%, far ahead of schedule and exceeding our target almost three fold.  In 2018, our Growing with our Communities programs have helped 52 different charities and partners with close to €0.5m. In 2018 HEINEKEN Ireland achieved the Business Working Responsibly mark, the first drinks company to do so.

What are the challenges you encounter in driving the sustainability agenda and how do you stay inspired?

There is growing awareness and concern on the environmental aspects of sustainability, which we are all exposed to through mainstream news and a quick scroll on Social Media shows up a multitude of new concerns and environmental challenges. So keeping abreast of these whilst staying focused on the key areas where HEIENKEN Ireland can make the most impact is key.

Being a member of BITC, brings great awareness of what is happening in the world of sustainability across business and community, so getting out in the marketplace to hear from others is a constant source of inspiration, as is the passion from the team around me to really make a difference.

What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?

I love working with people and am so fortunate to have been surrounded by inspiring people throughout my career, and HEINEKEN Ireland is no exception as it has built upon my network. Being based on site at HEINEKEN’s 163 year old brewery is fascinating as the brewery is a real icon located right in the heart of Cork City. As a result we have very respectful relationship with the communities around us.  It also means that we have a deep rooted sense of being responsible to safeguard a sustainable tomorrow as we want to be here for another 160 years.

In addition to having a deep heritage in Cork,  the business and people are agile and innovative. Following our short film which showed the highlights of our Sustainability Report, this year, we revamped the Sustainability Report again with a fresh digitally led approach embracing new communication methods. The full environmental team got involved writing blogs, featuring in videos etc. It was great to see the pride in the results and the excitement with the new delivery methods internally and externally.

Other highlights for me included volunteering alongside my colleagues to develop urban green spaces and support social enterprise at Down Syndrome Cork’s Field of Dreams. These volunteering days form part of our ‘Growing with our Communities’ programme through which we committed almost €0.5 million in funding to over 50 community and local causes throughout Ireland last year.

What is your motto in life?

‘Your body will do whatever the mind tells it’ – so I aim to stay positive and I like to feel the wind in my hair by challenging myself to try new things, getting outside for fresh air and keeping fit!

What would a perfect day entail for you?

Sunrise swim in the beautiful beaches of the Cork coastline, followed by a yummy breakfast of my husband’s pancakes with my two girls, an afternoon in the great outdoors and ending the day with movie night and a beer!

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