Part of our Global Sustainability Leaders Inteview Archive, this interview dates from 2015
As part of our series of Global Sustainability Leader Interviews, ALLEN & YORK were delighted to interview, Christine Diamente, Head of Brand and Corporate Sustainability at Alcatel-Lucent, about how she became involved in sustainability and what she believes are the upcoming trends within the industry.
Christine Diamente is Head of Brand and Corporate Sustainability at Alcatel-Lucent.
In the Brand function since 2013, she has been leading the company’s brand and advertising activities including identity, tools, naming, messaging, corporate writing, translation and corporate reporting.
Since assuming the sustainability role in early 2011, she has been leading the company’s overall sustainability strategy, governance, reporting and stakeholder participation for the economic, social and environmental dimensions including Alcatel-Lucent Foundation. For five years in a row, Alcatel-Lucent has been ranked No 1 in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the Communications Technology Sector and four times Technology Industry Group Leader.
Who or what inspired you to go into a career in sustainability?
One day, shortly after COP 15 in Copenhagen, I was offered the possibility of representing my company with the World Economic Forum. At that period, and in various discussions at Davos, it became apparent that the single biggest risk global companies faced, particularly in the technology sector, was ignoring our own role in Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability.
This combined with the fact that I had the good fortune of working with a CEO, Ben Verwaayen, who absolutely understood the call to action for companies to drive the sustainability agenda in their own activities as an innovation opportunity, and their larger global role in leading stakeholder action, was a clear source of inspiration and marked the beginning of an exciting new chapter in my career!
What key advice would you give to a someone looking to enter a career in sustainability now?
Sustainability in my experience has largely been about strategy—creating the right strategy for a company’s activities internally and externally, executing on that strategy and building trusted relationships with key experts, leadership and stakeholders, particularly customers, to continuously challenge and improve your performance.
So, if you are passionate about the topic, ready to champion the issue internally and externally, this is a good role for you.
What are going to be the biggest challenges for sustainability in the next 5-10 years?
In the technology sector, supply chain is probably the single biggest challenge today and no doubt will lead the agenda for the next 5-10 years.
I believe most leading companies have understood that you cannot operate a successful company strategy without integrating sustainability and corporate responsibility in your short-medium-long term activities. And as companies increasingly outsource their production and manufacturing to suppliers around the world, a huge challenge is ensuring these suppliers are seen as partners and incorporating the same values, metrics and approach to sustainability as the company itself.
Moreover, citizens and customers today in the digital age are very savvy and will make choices at their fingertips based on their values. Getting a clear handle on a holistic approach to sustainability including supply chain is certainly one that keeps me awake at night and I know I am not alone!
What skills will be in most demand in the sustainability sector in the next 5-10 years?
Leadership, strategy, operational execution are all key.
Personally, I also believe you must be passionate about the topic to be successful because ultimately, this is an issue that needs continuous championing against a growing tide of risks that need to be transformed into opportunities.
Thank you very much to Christine for sharing her career experience and thoughts with us.