Meet edie's 30 Under 30 Class of 2020: Amy Blackwell, Sainsbury's

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. Up next: Amy Blackwell, utilities and carbon reporting manager at Sainsbury's.

Amy joined Sainsbury's in 2014 and has made the jump from HR to sustainability within the business

Amy joined Sainsbury's in 2014 and has made the jump from HR to sustainability within the business

The future of business leadership starts right here. Earlier this year, edie unveiled the second cohort of members of its 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 Amy Blackwell, who manages utilities and carbon reporting for supermarket giant Sainsbury's. 

How I got to where I am now:

“I fully understand that I didn’t take the typical route into this profession – I studied English and American literature at the University of Birmingham and spent a summer doing work experience at Heathrow Airport, where I decided I wanted to go into HR.

“I studied part-time for a master’s in HR management and when I graduated, I joined the Sainsbury’s HR team on a temporary contract. Within a few weeks, I moved into a permanent role and spent the next few years learning as much as possible. By chance, at the same time that I was looking for a new challenge, a position opened for an experienced energy manager. I convinced the business that they needed someone people-focussed and who really understood the business and was lucky enough to secure the position.

“The role has grown and developed, meaning I’m now responsible for our carbon reporting, operational water use and environmental engagement and behaviour change schemes.”

My biggest career achievement to date has been:

“Becoming the expert on carbon and water in the business, having started this role with relatively little specialist knowledge.

“This progress meant I was able to support the launch of our strategy for reaching net-zero by 2040 and to secure our water self-supply licence. We’re aiming to become water-neutral by 2040.”

The biggest challenge I have encountered along the way is:

 “Adapting to change quickly. The only constant in life is change and I’ve had to learn to accept that the pace of change will always be accelerating – both in terms of factors within the business and external factors like government policy.

“No one can always predict what changes will happen and when. And, once they do, something you’ve been working hard on for a long time will be business-as-usual and you have to move onto the next thing to keep up.

“That said, this is a big part of what makes the job so interesting!”

If I had to describe my generation in one word or phrase, I would say:

“Savvy.”

A successful 2020-21 for me looks like:

“We launched our 2040 net-zero target in January, and, though the business has been focusing on feeding the nation through the pandemic, our team has been developing pathways to meeting that target in the best way possible. Carrying on this work is the big focus. We’ll be producing our first Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) report, which I am really proud of.

“We’re also doing a lot of work to improve our water data quality and to develop a strategy to get usage as low as possible. I hope the work I’m doing now will help the business for a long-time.

“On a more personal note, I’m enrolled on a level 2 energy management course and hope to finish soon.”

Outside of my career, I enjoy:

“Travelling, seeing the world, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures and new foods. But I equally love having a cosy night in with a film!

“I also run a fair bit. I was meant to run an ultramarathon this year, but it’s been postponed to 2021.”

My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business is:

“Each business has a part to play in driving the sustainability agenda – it’s important to look at your context and assess how you can contribute to a greener future.

“Support colleagues in making the right decisions and recognise that sustainability usually makes commercial sense – it shouldn’t be a bolt-on.”

My key piece of advice for any young professionals entering my industry today is:

“Other people are key to your success, so take chances to meet new people and grow your networks.

“And take risks and believe in your abilities. Businesses will see your skills and confidence and doors will open for you. As part of that, try not to be scared about the future. You might not know what you want to do next, or you might have your eyes set on a dream role in the long-term, but it’s taking opportunities to learn and embed sustainability in every role that is important.”

The full Class of 2020 membership is detailed here

To stay in the loop for 2021 nominations for the 30 Under 30, email edieleaders@fav-house.com.

edie Staff



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