Leave a comment

Taking Ownership of a Sustainable Future: How Studying Sustainability Informed My Career Path

Meet Rachel

“To me, sustainability means thinking about the long-term consequences of all that we do, on people and the planet. It’s easy to think that sustainability is a young people’s mission. I don’t think that’s the case. I have a part to play both domestically and professionally in making the transition to a low carbon economy.”
– Rachel Delhaise, Head of Sustainability, Convex Insurance

Climate change is now a firm fixture on board agendas. As businesses start recognizing the need to respond to global pressures such as resource scarcity and social inequalities, the responsibility of ‘sustainability’ is no longer confined to NGOs and activists. It’s integral to ensuring that businesses can continue to operate on a planet with finite resources.

But addressing climate change takes corporate leadership and direction.

Choosing a course that drives change

Inspired by David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet, Rachel Delhaise took the Business Sustainability Management online short course to develop and motivate sustainable business practises in her insurance firm. From the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), the course offers the resources to promote sustainable development and champion positive change – which is exactly what Rachel went on to do. Now head of sustainability at Convex Insurance in the UK, a job she stepped into shortly after completing the course, Rachel recognizes the urgency of sustainable choices, in both a personal and professional capacity.

Acknowledging the urgency of sustainability

“Sustainability is an urgent priority. We need to take more action in order to meet the goal of one and a half percent. And we’re not on that yet.”

2U – Corporate & Student Story Films with Rachel Delhaise. photographed for Bold Content by Michael Leckie. Sept 2021

Sustainability is transforming the way professionals live and work globally. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a comprehensive framework for the world to work together to create a better future by 2030. It offers business and society a solution to some of our biggest modern challenges, but more than this, sustainability is key to ensuring a resilient future for all. According to scientific research, it’s estimated that limiting the earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius would lessen the most dangerous and irreversible effects of climate change.1 While a number of perspectives explain how greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions would need to evolve to achieve this, few paint a clear and comprehensive picture of the actions global businesses should be taking to get there.2 “My own work had, to a certain extent, addressed the risks around climate change. Although I was aware of it from that perspective, I hadn’t embraced the broader sustainability movement,” says Rachel. “That’s what I then started to get increasingly interested in.”

“Sustainability is an urgent priority,” she implores. “We need to take more action in order to meet the goal of one and a half percent. And we’re not on that yet. We all need to take more action. Businesses, personally, governments, and regulators. There needs to be a drive from many angles.”

Sustainability addresses modern challenges and redefines business

Despite being cognisant of climate risk, it wasn’t until Rachel fully realized the challenges and opportunities that came with fulfilling a sustainability agenda that she reimagined her role and career. Formerly a chief risk officer faced with a possible forced job change, Rachel took the opportunity to re-evaluate her career path and pursue her interest in corporate sustainability. “There are relatively few senior women in the insurance industry, [despite many] initiatives aimed at improving and incentivizing women in the workplace,” continues Rachel, “I really hope that younger women today will embrace these opportunities, get to C-suite positions and use that to influence corporate values. We’re in a moment where we can take advantage of the attention given to gender equality and allow that to change the narrative.”

The successful businesses of the future will be those that proactively respond to the global challenges of today. “If I could give someone advice, I’d say this is going to be a really big area. If you have any interest [in sustainability], you should absolutely pursue it,” notes Rachel. “Find an avenue. There are lots of facets to sustainability across different industries. Whether through interest or opportunity, grab whatever part of it you can. I would absolutely encourage you to pursue it.”

Originally published on GetSmarter.

2U – Corporate & Student Story Films with Rachel Delhaise. photographed for Bold Content by Michael Leckie. Sept 2021

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.