Event Replay: CIRCL College Tour #21: 7 Roles to create Sustainable Success

Watch the event replay of CCT#21: 7 Roles to create Sustainable Success
Lotte de Groot
1 december 2020

In this episode of college tour, Carola Wijdoogen, author of the book 7 roles to create Sustainable Sucess, former Chief Sustainability Officer of NS and cofounder of Sustainability University Foundation, explained the need for companies – especially during COVID-19 – to accelerate sustainability in their business. She introduced the 7 roles needed to develop a sustainable strategy and to translate the strategy into action and innovation. She talks about this with Karlijn van den Berg, transformation lead at ABN-AMRO. Together

Watch the webinar

A few questions as discussed in the webinar are highlighted below but watch the webinar for the full story!

What are the 7-roles to create sustainable success?

You can use these roles to integrate sustainability or circularity into your company. You have to combine and fill in all the roles to achieve your goals in the organization. As an sustainability of Corporate Social Responsibility

In the networker role you engage your stakeholders to find out where the impact of your company should be. Secondly, the strategist role, here you integrate sustainably or circular economy into you strategy. Once you have developed your strategy you have to translate this strategy into a framework and goals for your company and this happens in the coordinator role. Allowing your business units and staff departments to come up with plans in order to achieve the objectives that you defined in collaboration with senior management. These three aforementioned roles are more formal roles, using formal and structural elements in an organization.

The informal roles

The four other roles are more informal. In the fourth and fifth role, the mentor role and the stimulator role you use your communication skills to trigger bottom up initiatives. In the stimulator role you bring outsiders or outside influences into the company to challenge your organization. And with the mentor role you do this on an individual level, you empower your colleges to integrate sustainability or circularity in his or her job. The sixth role being the innovator role is also very important. This role is important because you have to innovate in order to become a circular company. Lastly, the seventh role which is the monitor role. In this role you gain insight on whether you are still on track to achieve your goals. If this is not the case then an intervention is needed.

How do the roles relate to internal and external stakeholders?

Some of the roles are more internally focused, like the mentor role where you empower your colleagues to integrate sustainability or circular skills into their jobs or profession. On the other hand, some of the roles are more externally focused, like the stimulator role where you take the outside in and you challenge your organization to step up. In the different roles the balance between external and internal can be changing constantly creating a challenge for the sustainability professional.

Besides implementing the roles you also need to set goals. Settings goals will making it easier to achieve goals as an example sustainable developments goals. You need goals to accomplish the shift to a more sustainable and circular economy.

Setting goals is an important pillar to create change. What kind of goals are the biggest motivators of change?

It is important that goals are common goals and that people work together to achieve these goals. To maximize success sustainable senior management should also be involved and together you should strive to achieve your goals. When setting goals it is important that this is done in collaboration with your senior management, so that they are also involved in the process. Carola stresses that it is all about the process.

What is the book written by Carola about?

The book contains practical examples from experts and professionals about sustainable success around the world and therefore different cultural aspects of an organization. Each chapter describes one role. It start with a part of theory then the practical part with the lessons learned, successes achieved, tips and it ends with an connection about the roles in Carola her own experience at NS. The second part of the book is actually quite interesting as well because it is about balancing the roles. You can imagine that some roles are more important than others in different context. The last part of the book is about the eight competences you also need to fulfil those seven roles. This part Carola also talks about things like jobs classifications.

Why did Carola Wijdoogen write her book?

In her book Carola describes seven roles of sustainable success. Although it started with , Chief Sustainability Officers and Corporate Social Responsibility manager are here to stay. Carola thinks learning from each other and training are necessary to develop skills. To achieve the SDGs more companies must accelerate sustainability, more skilled Chief Sustainability Officers have to be appointed and other business professionals have to join the (sustainability) party.

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