Meet edie’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2019: Benedict Orchard, Superdry

This 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: Benedict Orchard, energy and environment manager at Superdry.

Meet edie’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2019: Benedict Orchard, Superdry

Benedict moved into his present role four months ago

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 Benedict Orchard, energy and environment manager at multinational clothing brand Superdry. 

How I got to where I am now:

“I got into this space because I love life; all life, and what our planet has to offer is incredible. I’ve always been passionate about protecting nature so my generation and those of the future can enjoy it.

“With that passion and my studies, I got into a degree in environmental sciences at UEA. This helped me to learn even more about ecosystems and how delicate they are to man-made changes – the biggest being climate change. It cemented my feeling that I wanted to help people to live sustainably and to tackle the impacts business is having on the planet.

“After university, I went straight into a six-month internship with Adnams, which turned into a very insightful and enjoyable seven years. In that time, I was environmental sustainability manager, which gave me so much insight into the business world and the environmental impacts it has.

“I recently decided it was time to move on and found the position I’m currently in. It’s a similar role but a completely different business in terms of size and sector. Superdry is incredibly passionate and committed to  reducing both its own impact and the impact of its products, so it’s the perfect place to continue my career.”

My biggest career achievement to date has been:

“Winning edie’s Sustainability Manager of the Year award in 2018. Recognition is a very powerful thing to help boost morale, instil confidence and share best-practice.

“The award was a culmination of years’ of work helping to create and implement Adnams’ environmental strategy. Within that, some of the best achievements have been ideas that I’ve conceived and seen through from thought, to plan, to reality. To be reminded of that inspires you to do even more.”

The biggest challenge I have encountered along the way is:

“Blissful ignorance.

“When it comes down to how we actually create behaviour change, this is the challenge that keeps cropping up. It’s an attitude that – unfortunately – a lot of people still have; they don’t feel the need to shift their lifestyles or business models to more sustainable ones.

“Climate change has been talked about in terms of the distant future for so long that a lot of people think or hope that it doesn’t affect them. Changing that mindset is one of the key things we have to tackle, and the light at the end of the tunnel is that we’ve seen much more engagement and passion over the past 12 months.”

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

“Champions of change.”

A successful 2019-20 for me looks like:

“Moving jobs and moving halfway across the country has been a bit of a whirlwind and I’m keen to settle into the new role and bring more of my previous learnings to the table. Integrating into the team and integrating my role into the supply chain more than it ever has been will be crucial.

“A lot of my focus will be around keeping the momentum going, accelerating some of the work Superdry is doing and communicating more around what the brand has achieved already.”

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

“Still loving life, loving my job, and helping both business and individuals to champion sustainability.

“I want to stay firmly in the midst of corporate sustainability, where I am now, making changes for the better and continuing to educate the masses. I love doing what I do and I’m certainly looking forward to where I’ll be in five years – and where the environmental conversation will sit in our lives. I hope it’ll be very different to where it is today.”

Outside of my career, I enjoy:

“Getting out and exploring our planet; places old and new, around the world, whether it’s travelling, hiking mountains, walking coastlines or trekking forests.

“Travel is definitely my main source of eco-guilt – I would love the aviation industry to wake up tomorrow and have come on leaps and bounds in making flying more sustainable. I do believe that everyone should be able to go and enjoy the world, with a lower impact.

“Aside from that, I play badminton and I’m getting back into rock climbing. If I’m not doing any of those things or working, I’m probably at the pub. My love for craft beer has definitely carried over from my previous job!”

My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business is:

“We are beyond the business case for sustainability now; if businesses can’t see the changes that are happening and the necessity that they react, they will no longer be successful.

“All businesses need to be excited by the scale of things to come and their ability to change how society operates – and to champion that through investments in people and technology as well as communications.

“Consumer-facing companies will also need to bring the public with them and not be afraid to challenge them. Customer demand is already changing how many businesses operate and vice versa, and if your company doesn’t see that, your customers will start going elsewhere.”

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

“One of the most engaging approaches is the truthful one. So be truthful, tell others about you and your organisation’s vulnerabilities and weaknesses as well as strengths and successes.

“Working in sustainability can mean people want to put you on a pedestal, but you’re ultimately still human.

“We don’t need everyone to be perfect – we need everyone to be working towards a shared vision of mass change. So bring your passion and your skills and don’t forget that we need practitioners as well as leaders. So go on, champion what you love and crack on!”

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 protected].

edie staff

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