We are excited to be launching a new In Conversation Series with our very own CSR Advisers from the Membership Services Team who work with some of Ireland’s leading brands on their sustainability. We kick off this new series with our environmental expert, Nick Reynolds.
Tell us about what you do here in BITCI?
I am a CSR adviser within the Membership Services Team, where I am responsible for managing a number of our member accounts. However, my expertise lies specifically in the environmental field of CSR.
What was your background previously? How did you enter the CSR field?
I recently moved to Ireland from South Africa, where I was born and grew-up. While in South Africa I worked for PwC in Johannesburg, where I was a part of their Sustainability and Climate Change Department. Here, I was responsible for the auditing of key environmental indicators used within Sustainability Reports, as well as consulting on environmental rehabilitation provisions for mining operations and industrial sites. My focus has been primarily around environmental aspects of CSR, but I have always had a strong passion for the social side of CSR. This is particularly the case as the main clients that I worked with in my time at PwC were in the Mining sector, which showed to have a significant impact within the communities that they are associated with.
What do you enjoy most about the job?
I love the diversity, the new challenges that you face on a day to day basis. We live in a world that is changing at a drastic pace and businesses have to evolve the ways they operate in order to keep up. Helping businesses better understand the issues at hand and devising more sustainable measures around these challenges is so rewarding.
What do you think are the biggest challenges for companies in driving their sustainability agendas?
Firstly, I must start off by saying that sustainability is a broad concept, which reaches over all aspects of a company, from the workplace environment, to the environments and communities that we operate in, as well as the people and companies that we do business with. Having a single person in an organisation that can understand all of these aspects of CSR is highly unlikely; it requires a team of experts within each of these areas to begin to understand the bigger picture of what a sustainable company will look like. Secondly and most probably the biggest challenge, is finding a way of bringing all of these individuals together and developing a strategy that aligns to all of these areas with your company. The concept of sustainability is highly complex and will continue becoming more complex as the challenges that we are facing globally, locally and in the business world continue to evolve.
How do you stay inspired in the quest of helping businesses be as sustainable as they can be?
It is not very difficult to stay inspired with the continuous challenges that we are currently facing all over the world. You can’t turn on the TV; open a newspaper; or listen to the news without hearing about some sort of environmental or social incident; businesses being caught up in unethical scandals; or governments not willing to stand-up to the threats of climate change. All of this makes me more determined to try and do my part in helping businesses be more responsible and work towards a more sustainable outcome. Business has the power to make a difference against the challenges that we are facing globally today, and its organisations like BITC that help to shine a light on this and show these companies what they are capable of.
What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?
Making the jump from South Africa to Ireland very early on in my career was a big challenge, and a huge learning curve, for me. I had to familiarise myself with new legislation (typically in the environmental space) and a new standard for what best practice looked like, as these differed significantly between the two countries. However, though there are many differences in the challenges businesses are facing, there was a constant that being compliant is not enough and if we are going to achieve the objectives that the SDG’s have put in place for us, businesses need to take responsibility for pushing the boundaries of improving the standard for what a responsible and sustainable business looks like. It is happening at a far greater rate here in the more developed nations, than back in the third world countries where compliance to legislation is still seen as the goal.
What is your motto in life?
Always look for the positives in all that life throws at you.
What does a perfect day entail for you?
There is nothing better than starting the day off outdoors with a good run. Follow that up with a good old fashioned braai (South African word for BBQ) with family and friends, watching the rugby. Yes, very South African!!!
What are your go-to news site to stay informed on CSR and Sustainability aside from BITCI?
Triple Pundit is a great for general CSR stories, but my favourite site to help me keep up with the latest CSR and Sustainability news is the WBCSD.