In this month of our In Conversation with series we are delighted to talk to Geraldine Kearney, Group Director of Sustainability at Glanbia.
Please describe your role and responsibilities and how many years you have been in the company
I was appointed Group Director of Sustainability in 2015, having joined the organisation in 2004 as Group Director of Corporate Communications. In my current role I am responsible for the development and execution of a comprehensive overarching Group sustainability strategy, defining and addressing Glanbia’s ambitions across environmental, community and societal impacts.
What was your background previously? How did you enter the CSR field?
Prior to Glanbia I was a Director of leading blue chip communications company, Murray Consultants.When I joined Glanbia as Director of Corporate Communications, I was responsible for corporate reputation, which was focused on supporting the delivery of the growth strategy through targeted internal and external communications – including a CSR programme.
When the Group Sustainability leadership role came up in 2015, it was attractive to me for many reasons – but primarily because it’s a strategic, reflective role and one which aligns with my own beliefs.Having a deep knowledge of Glanbia, and the food industry, combined with experience in reputation management was an advantage in moving to sustainability. Strategy and planning is reliant on communications skills (as well as problem solving, change management, and team building).
How has the sustainability/CSR programme evolved at your company?
Over the past decade various parts of Glanbia had increasingly embedded sustainability thinking and positive action into their activities. Glanbia Ingredients Ireland and our US Cheese business in particular have developed innovative and commercially focused sustainability programmes. After a significant corporate re–organisation in 2013 and informed by our renewed Purpose, Vision and Values, we rolled out a more strategic, Group wide, approach to sustainability in 2015.
What are the challenges you encounter in driving the sustainability agenda and how do you stay inspired?
Given the long-term and complex nature of sustainability, a common challenge is to keep senior leadership sufficiently engaged …The answer is to focus on clear and realizable targets and ambitions.Learning and sharing with other professionals – inside and outside the company – keeps me inspired.
What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?
You are always learning in a dynamic organisation like Glanbia . Today Glanbia, building on its dairy and coop heritage, has become a global leader in nutrition, employing over 6,000 people across 32 countries.Being part of the Glanbia team over the past twelve years – through major transformational projects – has been a privilege and a great learning. In respect of Group Sustainability, it is early days in the beginning of a broadening sustainability journey. However to-date we have made significant progress in developing standardised Group wide environmental reporting – the bedrock for a long term sustainable tool to drive best practice and culture.
What is your motto in life?
An unexamined life is not worth living.
What would a perfect day entail for you (outside of work)?
I like to be outdoors – so a perfect day off is one spent with family and friends, with a shared purpose – whether it be walking, mountain climbing, sailing or any activity within my reach!
Learn about Glanbia’s Corporate Social Responsibility.