A belated welcome to Conran! Tell us a bit about your background and what brought you to Conran late last year.
I’ve had quite an unusual career – developing strategic communications for organisations like Shell and AstraZeneca, working with regulators like the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to help clients tell authentic stories, and holding board positions for various charities. I’ve researched issues like online child exploitation for documentary filmmakers and developed business and brand strategies for modern slavery organisations and conservation charities like the Jane Goodall Institute.
My role at Conran brings together my experience of corporate sustainability with subject matter knowledge of themes like the energy transition and modern slavery. My focus is on brand and marcomms, from purpose through to campaigns.
Why is the sustainability communications space of particular interest to you?
I firmly believe that communication is the most powerful tool we have as a species, and it's more important than ever that we use that in a way that moves us all forward. As humans, we rely upon the interconnectedness of people, planet, and society, and right now we're in a window of time where the actions we take today will determine our collective future.
Brands should communicate their authentic sustainability perspectives and actions to gain competitive advantage; beyond any other benefit, the commitment of a company to its role in our future is one that will have a lasting impact.
But it's a rapidly changing landscape, with increased demand from investors, talent, customers, consumers, and governments – all looking for greater transparency, more assertive positions on sustainability issues, and more action. This is because the brands we invest our time and money in affect our individual place in a sustainable future. It's the era of stakeholder capitalism – and for ambitious brands out there, this should feel exciting!
What can a well-considered and implemented strategy – with sustainability at its heart – deliver for brands?
It starts with purpose. This has become (unfairly) a bit of a buzzword over the years, but your purpose should be the supreme organising principle, around which all strategic decisions are made - and a foundation of your company culture. A purpose that has been considered with sustainability in mind shows stakeholders that you intend to be around for a long time, giving them confidence in how you run your business, your leadership, and why they should invest their time or money in you.