Meet edie's 30 Under 30 Class of 2020: Hollie Clark, Aldi UK
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: Hollie Clark, Aldi UK's corporate responsibility manager.
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 Hollie Clark, who manages the plastics and packaging side of corporate responsibility at supermarket Aldi UK.
How I got to where I am now:
“I studied geography at the University of Aberdeen, focussing my modules on climate change, and between my third and fourth years, I was lucky enough to be accepted to go on an expedition to Norway’s ice caps. Researchers have been going there since the 1950s and it was amazing to see how much has changed since then first-hand. It made me certain that climate and sustainability was what I wanted to focus on.
“But I took quite an unconventional route into sustainability. My first job after uni was as an air quality tester and asbestos surveyor and, a couple of years into that role, an assistant position in Aldi’s energy and environment team came up and I jumped at the chance. I spent four years in that position, managing our solar panel installation and maintenance and looking after our contracts for green electricity, energy and carbon reporting and compliance schemes.
“Just over a year ago, I was offered a promotion, which was fantastic. I’m now the CR manager responsible for delivering against our plastics and packaging pledges, which means I work closely with our buying teams.”
My biggest career achievement to date has been:
“Helping Aldi achieve carbon neutrality. This is a step in the process – not the end of what we’re doing on climate – but it was a huge win for us. We wanted to make sure we were taking proper accountability for our emissions until we can bring them down to zero. We also wanted to make sure there was a huge social benefit as well as an environmental one.
“From a packaging point of view, though, I’d say committing to a 50% plastic reduction target by 2025.”
The biggest challenge I have encountered along the way is:
“Learning what challenges the teams which I directly work with are facing. They all have different goals and targets they need to meet, so it’s important not to add another big piece of work to their desks.
“It’s not always easy explaining how more sustainable processes and systems can help departments deliver positive impacts across areas other than waste or energy or carbon. But once you know people’s key drivers, you can have an amazing influence.”
If I had to describe my generation in one word or phrase, I would say:
A successful 2020-21 for me looks like:
“Making sure that all the progress on the new and exciting projects we’ve started over the past few months continues, even through the second wave. We can’t hit pause or take a step back.
“I’m confident that this will happen. 2020 has been a hugely challenging year, in retail and beyond, but I’ve been impressed with the level of progress we’ve continued to see and the support our buying and store teams have given us.”
Outside of my career, I enjoy:
“Spending time with family and friends. Because we weren’t able to do this so much over lockdown, my house has amassed a pretty impressive collection of board games.
“I also like to keep fit. I was meant to take part in a triathlon in June, but it’s been deferred to next year and I need to make sure I keep training.”
My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business is:
“Don’t approach sustainability as a tick-box exercise. It is expected by customers, particularly in my industry, that sustainability is a core part of the business – not an optional extra.
“Also, recognise that sustainability is a great opportunity to create and celebrate success stories. Show off if this is a side of your business you’ve previously kept quite quiet about.”
My key piece of advice for any young professionals entering my industry today is:
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There is no such thing as a silly question and there is huge value in having a fresh perspective on an issue.
“Also, resilience is hugely important. Not everyone will see things the way you do but, if you’re passionate about something, you should keep pushing forward and trying new approaches.”
The full Class of 2020 membership is detailed here.
To stay in the loop for 2021 nominations for the 30 Under 30, email firstname.lastname@example.org.