Climate change is complicated. But that’s not stopping people around the world from making a difference. We’re lucky to have some brilliantly diverse people leading our climate work across the firm. In this series, we help you get to know them, their areas of expertise and why they’re passionate about the planet.
Today, we’re introducing you to Gavin. Gavin heads up our internal sustainability team and has been fielding our questions about all things green for years. He might not be your typical eco warrior, but he’s doing his bit for the planet every day.
A city boy
Gavin grew up in London and went to school around the corner. That’s where his interest in the environment started – geography just clicked.
“I thought the natural environment was fascinating, mainly the natural hazards if I’m honest. Earthquakes, volcanoes and tidal waves hooked me. I loved that glaciers could carve huge chunks out of the land, and the idea that people had been adapting to the environment around them for thousands of years.”
He then went to university at the opposite end of the country to do a geology degree, then a masters in environmental science. “After spending a bit of time seeing the world, I came back, got a job in the city and bought a place 2km from where I grew up,” he continues. “My first job was as a sustainability consultant.”
There from the start
Gavin has been working on sustainability since before it was cool.
“I established and have been leading our environmental programme for the past 10 years. I also set up our green champion network of people who help advocate the importance of environmental behaviours to colleagues.”
These days he’s the head of internal sustainability for the UK and North and South Europe, working on our WorldClimate initiative. “This means I set the strategy for how we’re going to achieve our net zero goals and embed sustainable considerations into our operations,” he explains. “Then the team and I engage with and support as many people as we can from around the business to help make that happen.” Gavin is also the sustainability lead for our global internal real estate function.
One of those opportunities
We asked him about something he was proud to be a part of.
“A couple of years ago, we opened a new HQ in London at 1 New Street Square. This was a once-in-a-decade opportunity to showcase our sustainability ambition through our buildings so I thought, why not see how far we can push it? I found it pretty exciting to set a brief that hadn’t been done before – although at the start I’m not sure all of the project team felt that way!”
It took time – but it went great. We chipped away at it, one problem at a time – energy efficiency, nature-based designs, wellbeing considerations – and with every little success you could see the team becoming more and more convinced of the real value their thinking about sustainability could bring.
“I’m just really proud we took our chance. Since then we’ve been able to share advice with other companies on how to develop more sustainable offices and we’ve set standards that our global real estate teams can follow too. It’s a good feeling to know our project keeps on giving.”
"It’s really inspiring to work with committed, competent and passionate people who have a shared vision."
It takes a village
“When I first started work, climate change was still a bit niche. The first training course I attended was a qualification to be a low-carbon building consultant and the teacher openly said he didn’t believe climate change was being driven by excess carbon emissions! It was a different world.
Over the years, it’s been fantastic to see more and more people getting behind the sustainability agenda. Even the last 12 months have shown a lot of progress. It’s really inspiring to work with committed, competent and passionate people who have a shared vision.”
Always look on the bright side
So what about the future?
“I’m a naturally optimistic person. Sure, there’s a lot of work to do, but to me progress is inevitable. I can see businesses across different industries improving every day, and I expect them to be a bit better tomorrow and the day after. I have two kids – they are 4 and 6 years old. All I want is for them to grow up in a clean environment and a fair society. Isn’t that what we want for everyone?”
Meet the others
We hope you enjoyed finding out a bit more about Gavin. Our climate team are here to help, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to find out more. And if you want to meet the others, just keep reading below. We’ll introduce you to new people every month.
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