Meet edie's 30 Under 30 class of 2019: Luke Landers, University Hospitals Birmingham
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: Luke Landers, energy and sustainability manager at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust.
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 benefits 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 Luke Landers, energy and sustainability manager at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust. The Trust notably operates south Birmingham’s largest hospital, Queen Elizabeth.
How I got to where I am now:
“I studied geography at GSCE and A-Level before moving onto complete an environmental science degree with a year in industry, at LiftShare.
“This self-organised placement gave me a flavour for how environmental initiatives work in practice rather than theory. My placement turned into a graduate job, which gave me a lot of project management experience and appreciation of how best to work with others.
“As my skill set grew, so did my understanding of where I wanted my career path to head. At this stage, I began looking for jobs which were not solely sustainable travel-focused but incorporated broader sustainability and environmental projects. This brought me away from Norwich and to the West Midlands. Initially to Aldi, followed by a move to the public sector - firstly a group of further education colleges and now the NHS.”
My biggest career achievement to date has been:
“Being project lead on the installation of 50+ store solar panel installations across new stores and retrofits to the existing estate at Aldi.
“There had been a historical roll-out, but it had been paused and I was tasked with re-invigorating it by building the business case and ensuring compliance. It was really challenging due to the number of stakeholders involved, including property, finance, contractors, consultants and landlords. That’s not to mention that the project involved a lot of working remotely from installations. But, looking back, it was absolutely worth it.
“On a broader note, I'm really pleased with the level of impact I was able to have whilst working for Birmingham Metropolitan College. I joined into their first sustainability role I'm proud that I was able to have quite an impact in a brief period, by, for example, implementing a new waste strategy and connecting with other organisations to organise a joint Green Week.”
The biggest challenge I have encountered along the way is:
“The challenge of sustainability being an additional thought and not always seen as linked to the overarching business aims.
“Working within a social enterprise, a private organisation and now the public sector, I have been exposed to a variety of business objectives and cultures. – but this has always been a common issue.
“In my current role, patient care is of utmost importance, whether it be the operational availability of equipment or buildings right through to where public funds are invested. It is, however, important to understand how environmental focused initiatives can improve patient care, and if we operate efficiently, we can ensure money is not wasted on utilities but on frontline services.
“Mentalities can change and I'm optimistic I can support my NHS Trust in recognising how sustainability can deliver broad-ranging benefits.”
If I had to describe my generation in one word or phrase, I would say:
“Aware of the challenge but up for the fight.”
A successful 2019-2020 for me looks like:
“Mainly focusing on the introduction of University Hospitals Birmingham’s Sustainability Development Management Plan (SDMP). This defines the direction and targets for all elements of sustainability - including utilities, which I'm responsible for.
“Supporting this, I want to roll out a refreshed Trust-wide energy and environment policy.
“On a more operational level, I am keen to develop the monitoring and reporting infrastructure of our hospitals so we can better identify opportunities for improvement. Longer-term, I hope that this can provide a building block for developing a behavioural change campaign.”
In five years’ time, I would like to be:
“Influencing and delivering sustainability initiatives within a large organisation. Hopefully, it'll be within a team, or even leading a team, where the ethos of sustainability is becoming well embedded.”
Outside of my career, I enjoy:
“It’s a common theme with the 30 under 30 members but my favourite activity outside of work is travelling - whether it’s in the UK, Europe or further afield.
“I love the opportunity to get out and experience new cultures firsthand. Aside from being fun, it can help provide a fresh perspective and act as a reminder of why we should be seeking to minimise our negative impact on the planet.
“Linked to this, travel is also my biggest source of environmental guilt. I’m therefore walking and cycling a lot more these days.”
My 'Mission Possible' message for business is:
“Be bold and try not to let uncertainty hold back action. We have to acknowledge there's often no perfect sustainable solution, so we have to press on.
“Unfortunately, we can often let the small details hold back a project when we know it will help deliver positive change. But those who act now will reap the benefits.”
My key piece of advice for young professionals entering my industry today is:
"Show your drive and determination and, specifically, try to get some work experience wherever possible.
“Ideally it should be linked to the field you're targeting, but you'd be surprised how transferable the skills you gain are. This will help unlock opportunities which may not otherwise existed for you.”
The full Class of 2019 series can be viewed here.
To stay in the loop for 2020 nominations for the 30 Under 30, email firstname.lastname@example.org.