Interview with Claudine Blamey, Head of Sustainability & Stewardship at The Crown Estate
As part of our series of Global Sustainability Leader Interviews, ALLEN & YORK were delighted to interview, Claudine Blamey, Head of Sustainability & Stewardship at The Crown Estate, about how she became involved in Sustainability and what she believes are the upcoming trends within sustainability careers.
Who or what inspired you to go into a career in sustainability?
I liked science at school and didn’t want to limit myself to just one. At the time environmental science was an emerging career subject and environmental activism was coming to the fore; Greenpeace’s occupation of Brent Spar I remember was in the news and there were big challenges facing the environment.
I wanted to get involved within the corporate sector and I had a particular interest in legislation. After achieving a BSc in Environmental Science and then an MSc in Environmental Legislation and Management, my first job was with Honda, which was a really innovative company.
At the time there were no sustainability professionals or heads of environment, but Honda started to look at social issues and CSR and I particularly enjoyed driving through change, in the face of some scepticism, and influencing key players to create positive action within the business.
Change Agent, would have been an alternative career, as I was and still am, interested in affecting change and making a real difference.
What would you be looking for in a sustainability professional today?
Influencing, challenging up and down an organisation, being able to speak the language of the business and mobilising people, all crucial within the sustainability role.
Sustainability works best when it is an integrated part of the business, rather than sitting outside.
Often this involves a culture shift, which needs to be driven by the Sustainability professional; influencing culture and winning hearts and minds, both up and down the company.
At The Crown Estate, a particular project’s impact on the local economy, employment, resources, environment, are all integral to the way we do business and cannot be picked apart. Sustainable business as an integrated business model is what progressive CFOs & CEOs have adopted, as it makes economic and environmental sense and is the way forward.
What do you see as trends within sustainability in the next 5-10 years?
Integrated reporting is getting good interest and I believe we will see a move away from simple mitigation to legislative reporting.
Social value; measuring the value an organisation has is a growing trend. Articulating a purpose beyond shareholder return and profit.
Huge rise in start-ups and innovation across all sectors. The creation of new products, a movement away from using raw materials, creative building design, 3D printing and the use of innovative building materials – are all trends which we are seeing within the property sector.
What is the future for sustainability careers in the next 5-10 years?
The seniority of the sustainability professional will rise and rise. We need sustainability professionals who understand business and commerce at all levels; government ministers, company board and across operational levels.
Strong influencers, change managers and those with the ability to implement an agenda are skills that are required. Sustainability professionals need to be able to get under the skin of the business, to challenge and change in a constructive way.