Meet edie's 30 Under 30 Class of 2019: Rachel Hammond, Selfridges
This new series profiles the members of edie's 30 Under 30 - a nomination-based community of 30 hugely talented young sustainability and energy professionals who have already achieved great things or are showing fantastic promise. Next up: Rachel Hammond, Selfridges' product and sourcing manager, sustainability.
The future of business leadership starts right here. Earlier this year, edie unveiled the inaugural members of its brand new 30 Under 30 initiative – a group of bright and ambitious rising sustainability and energy stars from across the UK.
After being nominated by their colleagues and impressing judges from Global Action Plan and the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (ICRS), this cohort of youthful visionaries now benefit from an unrivalled opportunity to connect with one another and co-develop solutions to some of the most pressing environmental and social challenges of our time.
In this weekly series, we will be sharing their stories and successes beyond the group, giving edie readers insight into the minds of those who will be leading the charge in creating the low-carbon, resource-efficient economies of the future.
This week, it's the turn of Rachel Hammond, product & sourcing manager, sustainability, at retail giant Selfridges.
How I got to where I am now:
“I studied Fashion Buying Management at the University of Westminster and, during that time, I held a one-year placement in a buying role, which is where my interest in ethical trade and supply chains flourished. After this, I focussed several university projects on the topic of sustainability.
“Once I graduated, I joined Selfridges in an entry-level buying position – and was keen to explore sustainability in my role alongside my usual duties. When I joined, the ‘Buying Better’ network was forming – helping buying teams build their knowledge of sustainability and place it at the forefront of decision-making. I became a founding member of that network and was able to build upon my interests being at the forefront supporting and driving Selfridges’ approach to sustainability within the buying function. In 2016 Selfridges Annual Extraordinary People Awards, I was the national winner for the sustainability ‘Buying Better, Inspiring Change’ award.
“As my interest in ethics and the environment grew and progressed along the buying scale, I was presented with this choice – that was quite frightening but also exhilarating – to explore my ambition further, using my buying and supply chain knowledge to deliver sustainability at a functional, field level, focussing on product and sourcing
“Changing ways of working for the long-term is my passion, so I was very fortunate when this role became available internally. I’ve now been in this position for about two years.”
My biggest career achievement to date has been:
“The moments that stand out for me are when I’ve been able to take a vision and turn it into reality. I love empowering and enabling individuals to see how they can make changes that are better for people and planet within their role.
“One of the things I’ve been heavily involved in is our decision to phase out of exotic skins. I’m proud to work for a retailer that makes such bold decisions; this move will be a big change across several key areas of the business. I’m now driving the training and governance plan across the business as we work towards our February 2020 deadline.
“Our ‘Buying Better’ labelling is another initiative I’ve worked on intently, building it into Selfridges’ everyday ways of working and embedding it into the way we buy.”
The biggest challenge I have encountered along the way is:
“I see myself as an intermediary between the sustainability and function fields, so I spend quite a lot of my time breaking a long-term initiative or goal into smaller actions and communicating this across the business to people in various departments and at various levels [of seniority].
“Ultimately, you need the people in the functions to develop and deliver the roadmaps to success – sometimes it can be frustrating for me personally that I don’t have all the answers. However, collaboration is the key to success and I am lucky at Selfridges - Buying Better, Inspiring Change wraps around our business strategy informing the way we work. This means everyone is keen to get involved."
If I had to describe my generation in one word or phrase, I would say:
“Empowered to make the change.”
A successful 2019-20 for me looks like:
“Completing the roll-out of exotic skins training and the governance plan around that, as well as introducing a broader suite of ‘Buying Better’ labelling categories, highlighting products with a more sustainable attribute helping to inform and inspire our customers.
“More broadly – seeing sustainability considerations at the heart of more and more brands. In particular, through exciting material innovations and communications tools which deepen the customer conversation and true value of purchase.
“I’d also like to take part in more cross-industry or cross -disciplinary collaborations to explore how shared knowledge and experience could address some of the most complex issues where the balance between innovation and implementation is the key to success.”
In five years’ time, I would like to be:
“I like to keep an open mind because I believe that doing so means more opportunities will come your way.
“However, I do have a couple of ideas – for example, working abroad has always been a dream of mine.”
Outside of my career, I enjoy:
“I love to get involved in community activities, supporting people on a local level or even more broadly. Years ago, driven by a desire to give back to and support my community, I organised an event which involved several activities from a clothes sale, to a quiz to raise money for local charities. It was great to receive the support from the local communities - from DJs to businesses donating quiz prizes - and of course the venue.
"Where I last lived, I volunteered at a live arts venue. It was great because it enabled me to mix with so many interesting local people and experience inspiring creative performances too!
“My other priorities are music, my friends and my family.”
My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business is:
“A sustainable and ethical future is the only future and tackling climate change should be a key priority.
“Recognise your position and identify where you can make an impact so that you can leverage this and in collaboration with others to address broader issues. It’s your duty and responsibility to enable and create a better future.”
My key piece of advice for any young professionals entering my industry today is:
“Keep re-thinking your pre-conceptions and keep challenging norms.
“Also, with such big challenges at hand, it’s easy to feel like nothing you do will ever be enough – so it’s important not to underestimate the importance of any change, even if it is small or gradual.”
The full Class of 2019 series can be viewed here.
To stay in the loop for 2020 nominations for the 30 Under 30, email email@example.com.