Climate change is complicated. But that’s not stopping people around the world make 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.
Up next is Veronica Poole. Veronica is our Global International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and corporate reporting leader. She’s passionate about the role transparency plays in changing behaviour and is playing a leading role in profession-wide changes around Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting. We spoke about everything from ballet to partnering with the World Economic Forum, and why she’s feeling hopeful for the future.
From Russia for love
Veronica grew up in Russia. “I was born in Tashkent (now Uzbekistan). My parents travelled around a lot and so we lived in various cities across the region. I studied higher maths at Moscow State University. It’s such a wonderful institution and so competitive to get in. I feel fortunate to have studied there”.After marrying a Brit, she found herself in the UK. “It was a totally different world to the one I was used to,” she recalls. Unsure of what she wanted to do, Veronica read that accountancy firms were on the lookout for non-accounting talent. “My first thought was what the heck is accounting?! It wasn’t a term I was familiar with in the Russian language.”
After doing her research and writing to local accountancy firms in the Yellow Pages, Veronica achieved her accountancy qualifications, before moving to Touche Ross (which later became Deloitte). “And the rest, as they say, is history.”
A memorable holiday
It was a trip of a lifetime that made her focus more on environmental issues. “I wanted to do something special for my birthday. I’d always wanted to learn how to dive and so my kids and I booked a trip to a beautiful resort with the intention of exploring the reef.”
“You expect to see all this vibrant colour and life. But instead we found fish swimming in what could be described as a cemetery. The coral was bleached, and it looked haunting. It sent shivers down my spine and was a big wake-up call.”
After returning home, Veronica felt a little hopeless at first. “But then it dawned on me. I have this key role in the City. I work for a highly influential firm. We can use our position to change the way business is done. The way investments are made. And ultimately, the impact business has on society. This has driven me ever since.”
“We can use our position to change the way business is done. The way investments are made. And ultimately, the impact business has on society. This has driven me ever since.”
Making a difference
After building her team, Veronica chatted with junior colleagues who had a passion for our planet and sustainability. “They really helped to shape my thinking. They were worried about the future and wanted to do something meaningful to address climate change – they were just looking for leaders to step up.” Having never been the shy and retiring type, which she puts down partly to a childhood spent performing ballet and competitive swimming, Veronica became the leader they were looking for.
She’s since played a significant role in developing the firm’s climate commitments under our WorldClimate strategy, as well as our presence in the market and the response of the profession more broadly. “Reporting is a powerful lever that can change behaviour. I worked with Accountancy Europe to set out a vision around standardised reporting, which has gone on to shape a lot of what’s happened in this space.”
A standout moment? “The work on comprehensive corporate reporting that I helped facilitate with the World Economic Forum and the CEOs of the leading sustainability standard setting organisations – I was very proud to put the firm’s name on that.” And on a personal level? “Being asked by our global CEO to take on a senior leadership role in this space – being trusted with opportunities is what the firm is all about. And winning a Women in Finance Award – I was so surprised to be nominated but I’m touched to be recognised in this way.”
“Society looks to business to make the right contribution on important topics like climate. Business can and should do that, but greater transparency is absolutely critical."
Transparency = trust (and relevance)
Asked to describe her role in one sentence, Veronica replies with “helping to drive transparency in capital markets so that money can flow into sustainable enterprises.” And it is greater transparency that she thinks is key.
“Society looks to business to make the right contribution on important topics like climate. Business can and should do that, but greater transparency is absolutely critical. Delivered in a credible way, increased transparency around ESG allows us all to make informed decisions about which companies to invest in or buy from. It holds people to account to do the right thing. And ultimately creates trust in business.
“I see this as not only a huge opportunity for Deloitte, but for the profession too. It helps people understand the value of what we do. Climate is a topic close to people’s hearts. They can relate to it more than to financial statements in many ways. By increasing transparency around sustainability, it can breathe new life into the profession and make us more relevant – I feel fortunate to be at the centre of it.”
The inspiring generation
We all have our climate heroes. “David Attenborough. Prince Charles. Prince Philip and the work he did with WWF. Al Gore.” But for Veronica, her biggest inspiration comes a little closer to home.
“I’m a proud mother. I find it energising seeing the way my children view the world. They have a different set of values to my generation. Whether it’s justice, equality or climate, they have a far more balanced view.“
They don’t need to know the wording of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, as it’s just natural and inherent in their outlook. I love seeing these more conscious views coming through and gives me a lot of hope for the future.”
Meet the others
We hope you enjoyed finding out a bit more about Veronica. 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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