It's not possible to separate one sector from any other

18th April, 2013 by Katie Shaw

Caroline Twigg, Director of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in India, reflects on how Forum for the Future’s Masters in Leadership has helped her confront challenges in India.

Class of: 2003 – 2004
Currently: Director, World Business Council for Sustainable Development in India

Why I chose the Masters
I knew I needed to specialise in sustainability after my undergraduate degree, but the options for purely academic courses didn’t appeal. I was really drawn to the work placements offered through the Forum Masters, and the variety of approaches I would see being based in different sectors.

What I learnt
I’m still using the practical skills I learnt on the Masters in my work, eight years later: facilitation, group work, communication, implementation. It was quite a rude awakening, realising how complex sustainability is. It’s not possible to separate one sector from another: any influence you have in one area has impacts in another. I also value the alumni network, and continue to learn from the experiences the friends I made are having in other work environments.

Career to date
I began at the London-based consultancy Good Business, running sustainability projects on behalf of companies, such as the J8 Summit (the junior version of G8) in partnership with Morgan Stanley, UNICEF and the G8 governments. Then, after roles in Geneva at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, I moved to Delhi to set up the Council’s India office. Working in India has been challenging, but I’ve really enjoyed learning how sustainability issues are faced in a vibrant, emerging economy. One issue is the lack of formal structures to support sustainability solutions. For instance, we worked with leading companies to develop ideas for efficient and ‘water smart’ cities, yet officials were struggling with providing consistent energy supplies and 24/7 water to the population. The focus there is on poverty alleviation for a population of over one billion: a different perspective from Europe.

What I plan to do next
I move back to London this summer, and hope to connect my international experience with the lively sustainability movement there. Nowadays, no large company can focus on its country of location alone, with international supply chains and commitments, and global consumers. I hope my experience of such a key economy as India, as well as some insight into international collaborative processes, will help a company in London steer its own sustainability agenda more successfully.

Advice for future leaders
Never underestimate the value of building relationships and ‘bringing other people along with you’ as you move forward on sustainability. There’s no point in charging ahead with a seemingly great initiative if nobody else understands its value.

Caroline Twigg was in conversation with Katie Shaw.

For more on India, read the Special Edition, ‘India: Innovation Nation’.

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