In our In Conversation Series we get to know the sustainability and corporate responsibility leaders from some of Ireland’s top businesses. This month meet Claire Bergin, Corporate Responsibility Manager at Deloitte Ireland. Claire has been with Deloitte for nearly 10 years, from a successful international sport career to Corporate Responsibility Claire’s journey is one to know.
Please describe your role and responsibilities and how many years you have been in the company
Corporate Responsibility Manager, Deloitte Ireland. I’m coming up to 10 years in Deloitte. As manager of the team that is now 4 people and an agenda for nearly 3,000 people in the firm in a number of different offices, the responsibilities are many and varied. Our team are advocators, drivers and facilitators for positive change and responsible business across the firm. We manage the community agenda working closely with a number of charity partners in Ireland and in Uganda on volunteering projects as well as on a number of key fundraising initiatives.
We liaise closely with a number of other teams within the firm helping to drive other agendas that fall under the banner of corporate responsibility, including the environmental team and the employee engagement team in areas such as mental health and diversity and inclusion.
A certain times of the year, we do lots of activities and events with the graduate recruitment team at campus events and with the learning & development teams incorporating CR into the modules for graduates on joining the firm.
Every day offers a different schedule of events keeping the job interesting!
What was your background previously? How did you enter the CSR field?
I have been with Deloitte for nearly 10 years, pretty much straight from University. Come September, I’ll have reached my 10th anniversary, which being honest was not what I had originally planned on starting. Like many graduates, I thought that I would be here for my 3 year training contract with my qualification in my back pocket and would move on from there. For me, my ambition and drive to obtain the chartered accountancy qualification was to move into the not for profit sector with a skill.Over for the first couple of years and months in Deloitte, I also enjoyed a relatively successful sports career at an international level that the firm were very supportive with. However my focus on sport did impact on my exams and career as an auditor. I did have some periods where I was fully focused on my work and it was really then that I realised, it wasn’t the right career route for me no matter how much of a reliable qualification and career route chartered accountancy is, I wasn’t to be convinced! So I looked to hand in my notice but for some reason the partners wanted to keep me and after some months of discussion and looking for the right opportunity, I was given a temporary role as a dedicated resource to Corporate Responsibility working alongside Gerry Keating who first started out the agenda of programmes and he had amazing experience and knowledge to pass along to me. Since then I have been working on the Corporate Responsibility agenda, initially with some responsibility for innovation in the firm as well and I also threw myself into other activities including the sports and social committee which I chaired for four years and other committees such organising large firm wide conferences. Wherever I could get involved, I did!
How has the sustainability/CSR programme evolved at your company?
Having being in my role for over six years now, I have seen our Corporate Responsibility agenda evolve into an embedded programme of activities that is taken seriously from the top down and bottom up. It was something that was done on the side of the desk voluntarily by good willed people and those that were interested and invested in making a difference. These people set the tone and direction for where the programme of activities are at today. Now it is a function with a fully committed team not only under the area of community but under the environmental agenda and right through the business.
This ethos of responsible business and giving back to the community has been a part of the Deloitte culture for a long time and one of the reasons, I was first interested in the firm and decided to join.
Our CEO, Brendan Jennings has shown the commitment to CR with his involvement with the National CSR Forum and the Leaders’ Group on Sustainability as well as fundraising and taking part in the Focus Ireland Shine a Light nights among plenty of other activities. His predecessor, Pat Kenny was equally involved and part of community activities setting up the DCU Endowment Fund as well as our longest standing fundraiser in the firm for SVP at Christmas time. The incoming CEO, Harry Goddard will be no different with his passion to give back and has already influenced many charitable events and activities within the firm to date. We look forward to working along side him to continue to make a positive change.
What are the challenges you encounter in driving the sustainability agenda and how do you stay inspired?
One of the biggest challenges which can be seen as a positive too, is the size of the organisation. Although we are lucky to work in such a large firm and to have so many people available to get involved in various activities and events. Like many other companies and other agendas within our own firm, it can be hard to have your message heard! There are lots of ongoing messages about different agendas so we do struggle with not just getting our message out there but also ensuring the right message is heard. Communications is top of our agenda at the moment to focus on.
What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?
I think making the decision to change career and then sticking with an unknown career path and journey over the last few years especially in the early years, was a big step to make. I was lucky enough to be afforded a position as a full time CR professional and I knew it, so I made the most of it and I feel proud about the progress that I’ve made personally and together as a team developing and progressing the agenda to where we are at today.
What is your motto in life?
In my sporting days, my motto used to be winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!! However that’s not quite the case anymore and I have since adopted a broader motto that is ‘everything happens for a reason’ and I truly believe that.
However my motto of winning isn’t everything instilled a hard work ethic and stop at nothing attitude, but now I’ve a more relaxed attitude but still believe that you make your own luck, so you can’t beat hard work!
What would a perfect day entail for you ?
A perfect day would involve watching and playing sports accompanied with family and/or friends with some good food and wine. Ideally it would be a Saturday, a rugby Saturday which would start out with a tag rugby match for me with my club team followed by brunch with friends and my boyfriend and onto an Irish or Leinster game. And from there onto a nice restaurant in Dublin. We’ve so much choice of high standard food and restaurants in Dublin, it’s hard to pick a favourite but as long as I’m with my boyfriend and family/friends, them I’m happy!
If you have enjoyed this piece and want to get to know more sustainability and CSR professionals check out our Leadership articles.