Meet edie's 30 Under 30 class of 2019: Katie Leggett, innocent Drinks

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: Katie Leggett, innocent Drinks' sustainability manager.

Katie is one of a six-person sustainability team and spearheads innocent's human rights work and sustainability communications

Katie is one of a six-person sustainability team and spearheads innocent's human rights work and sustainability communications

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 Katie Leggett, sustainability manager at smoothie and juice brand innocent Drinks.  

How I got to where I am now:

“After studying for an undergraduate degree in environmental economics and management at York, I knew I wanted to work in corporate sustainability, so I signed up for a masters’ in environmental technology at Imperial College London.

“While I was there, I wrote my thesis on sustainable packaging in the consumer goods industry, in conjunction with innocent, and was also working with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in Geneva.

“After that, I started an internship with innocent – who sadly didn’t have any permanent positions open in their sustainability team at that time. I, therefore, chose to go and do the CSR reporting at ArcelorMittal. It was a bit of a shift but a really good experience.

“I moved back to innocent once a position became available, to work on sustainable supply chains and developing our audit programmes. Over time, my role has evolved and expanded. I now head up our work on human rights and ethical trade – but a lot of work I do is now sustainability communications based, too. That’s happened quite naturally because there’s a growing need to talk about sustainability externally and also internally.”

My biggest career achievement to date has been:

“I’m very lucky in that I get a lot of time to deliver presentations – which I know doesn’t happen for a lot of people this early on in their career.

“I’ve used that experience to create a presenting network, which, technically, isn’t part of my day job. It brings together people from the sustainability field to talk about big issues and how we can communicate big, complex issues in an engaging way. For me, that’s one of the key things any sustainability team needs to be able to do.”

The biggest challenge I have encountered along the way is:

“Engaging the entire workforce.

“A business is only made up of the people who work for it – so, if you want to be a sustainable business, your people need to be informed and engaged with sustainability. You need to get everyone not only engaged and on-board but actively working on it, embedding it into their teams.

“There are only around 500 of us at innocent but I grapple with this every day, looking for better ways to engage different groups." 

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

“Purpose-driven.”

A successful 2019-20 for me looks like:

“One of the big things we’ve been working on this year is maintaining and improving our structures around things like behaviour change as a growing organisation. So, for me, I want to spend a lot of time ensuring our engagement strategies are fit for growth – including across different regional offices.

“Another thing we’re focusing on a lot is reframing the way we talk about sustainability through the lens of responsible business. I’ll be working with other teams, like product development and our charity foundation, to bring all the good work our business does together. I would love, by the end of 2020, for innocent to be more well-known for the sustainability work that we do.

“Also, I’m currently in the process of writing innocent’s first sustainability report – so watch this space.”

In five years’ time, I would like to be:

“Making sure that, as we grow into a global business, each new area we work in is set up to be a responsible business from day one.

“Sustainability should never be an add-on for each new part of our business and I think there’s something really interesting in determining how you work with new markets and new regions in a way that is engaging and ambitious. In short, I want our growth to be a springboard into creating real, positive impact.”

Outside of my career, I enjoy:

“Doing a lot of cycling. I’ve taken part in the Prudential RideLondon for the past few years and I’m also about to do the half-Ironman with friends for the first time.

“I also love to travel, and, like a lot of the other 30 Under 30, have started exploring ways to travel in a more low-carbon way.

“Other than that, I play the saxophone and I sing – both in the innocent band. I’d definitely say, through, that I am a sustainability professional first and a saxophonist second!”

My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business is:

“Sustainability, more than ever, is driving purchase decisions. There is now a real opportunity to start talking boldly, externally, both about the challenges and the great stuff you do.

“And, internally, it’s crucial that everyone cares about the sustainability ambitions and strategies you have. If you want to care about something as a business, everyone has to care.”

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

“Nail your superpower.

“Find what it is that you are really good at and really love, and that niche will really set you apart throughout your career. By doing that, you’ll be able to have the biggest impact whichever route you choose – which is something I know attracts a lot of people to the field in the first instance.”

The full Class of 2019 series can be viewed here.

To stay in the loop for 2020 nominations for the 30 Under 30, email edieleaders@fav-house.com.

edie Staff



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