Climate change is complicated. But that’s not stopping people around the world make a difference. We’re lucky to have some brilliant 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 sustainability.Today, we’d like you to meet Mike Barber. Feeling pessimistic about the current state of our planet? Then we suggest you have a chat with Mike. You’ll come away with a smile and a generous portion of sustainable optimism.
Mike is a natural optimist with a love of the land, especially when he’s experiencing the open air on two wheels. He often peddles off into the countryside with his biking buddies. Sometimes he ‘flies’ solo, not worrying about the route, just going with the flow.
“It’s amazing what the subconscious can serve up when you let your mind wander freely,” Mike says with a grin. “That ‘eureka moment’ when you suddenly see the consequences – intended or otherwise -of an action or innovation. Like when I realised that driverless cars will make the circular bike ride a thing of the past. Think about it: your car will just pick you up from wherever you end up! Or when you suddenly see a clear path forward on a knotty problem you parked earlier in the week – like how best to combine skills from across teams to solve a complex challenge.”
Driven by curiosity
Curiosity is Mike’s driver. “I’ve always been interested in the way the world works and where the natural world meets the economic, social and political spheres,” he recalls. Which explains his degree in economics and politics. From university he walked straight into a job at Deloitte. 27 years ago.
Training as an accountant in the energy sector, Mike became fascinated by the massive impact companies have on geography, geology, community and environment. So, 14 years later, he jumped at the opportunity to get involved with Deloitte’s nascent sustainability team.
A very happy accident
His new role was to complement their niche expertise with a practical appreciation of how businesses actually work.
“Where I am now is a very happy accident,” he laughs. “I feel privileged to be doing what I’m doing. Not only because the subject matter is close to my heart but also because I’m working with an amazing team of people who are equally passionate and fantastically knowledgeable. Together we get companies to knowingly take the right decisions and the rights risks – and then see them rewarded for their actions,” he explains. “What we collectively achieve feels great.”
Does he have a career highlight?
"It’s been immensely satisfying to see climate change hit the mainstream business agenda in the last couple of years."
Top of the agenda
“It’s been immensely satisfying to see climate change hit the mainstream business agenda in the last couple of years. I feel massively connected to that – I’ve been part of (or leading) teams working towards that outcome for the last decade, whether that’s through developing tools and standards, programmes raising awareness at board level, or specific client project teams.
I’ve had the opportunity to influence and lead a fantastic series of projects. Translating a FTSE100 net zero commitment into a series of options that will deliver a carbon free organisation. Acting as a critical friend to the C-suite of a global miner and getting them to treat climate data measurement with rigour, like their financial data.
Challenging the board of a global oil major to make their climate disclosures leading. Working with innovators to build a bridge between ecosystem conservation and financial return. Every week brings new challenges and new possibilities.”
I'm with Bill
When asked if he has a sustainability hero, Mike is quick to name a famous fellow optimist. “For me Bill Gates is inspirational. I admire his relentless curiosity and sense of fairness. He questions how we can be fairer and knows that it requires a better understanding of the situation that we’re in. Something he clearly strives to attain.
Currently we’re failing to pay the cost of all the carbon we’re emitting and storing up problems for the future. But – and I’m with Bill on this – I believe we can sort it out. It’s within our grasp to make the changes we need to. And to make the world a more just and equitable place as we take on this challenge.
It’s not just the right thing to do but it’s in our interests to get on and do it. This requires massive transformational change led by government and business. As individuals we also need to change, but in a more incremental and persistent way. It’s a big ask but, like Bill, I believe it’s achievable.”
Meet the others
We hope you enjoyed finding out a bit more about Mike. 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.
Our net zero resources
Towards net zero, together
From sustainable finance to operational resilience, our climate content hub is full of resources and ideas to help you on your journey to net zero.
Ideas to help you on your journey
Climate change can be the catalyst to help us rethink how we do business. Discover the people leading the change and what could be possible for your business.