Meet edie’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2019: Jonathan Mobbs, ISS Facility Services
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: Jonathan Mobbs, environmental business partner at ISS Facility Services.
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 Jonathan Mobbs, environmental business partner at FM giant ISS Facility Services’ UK division.
How I got to where I am now:
“I grew up by the sea and I’ve always been an outdoorsy person – some of my fondest memories from childhood are watching nature documentaries and going on walks in nature. I remember being on one of these walks in the Peak District and seeing the park ranger and the conservation activities he was doing and thinking ‘this looks like the best job in the world’.
“I channelled my interest around nature at school and knew that, when I went to university, I wanted to study environmental conservation. I studied at Sheffield Hallam, and as the course went on, I knew the chance of becoming a paid park ranger was one in a million. I started exploring other options and realised I could probably make more of a difference in the private sector, so I took on a consultancy role and then applied to study a master’s in environmental management.
“As my masters’ came to an end, I interviewed for several roles and the one which really grabbed me was with ISS, in the environmental business function. I saw so much opportunity for impact; FM covers all different kind of industries and businesses, and ISS isn’t just working to improve its own environmental footprint but is also a key influence on the impacts of clients.
“I was initially working across strategy and project delivery more broadly. Progress there led me onto a client account, where I now sit as energy and sustainability manager.”
My biggest career achievement to date has been:
“Taking my passion for the environment and continually learning new ways to approach it from a business perspective, taking into account not just nature but the financial context and the importance of activities like engagement and investment.
“More specifically, developing the new CR strategy and working out how to engage all of our staff – there are more than 42,000 in the UK, so getting them on-board is key. The strategy is in its third year now, and there’s so much more awareness around its objectives – what they are, why they’ve been set and what role everyone has in delivering against them.
“I think this is because we’ve aligned our staff campaigns with the strategy. A particular highlight here was Earth Hour, which our energy management function was able to help lots of our big-name clients to take part in.”
The biggest challenge I have encountered along the way is:
“Engagement is a recurring challenge. Getting key stakeholders on board in the first instance is great, but you need to keep engaging them once the initial groundwork is done, too.
“In our business, key stakeholders range from procurement, to fleet management, to bidding teams. We’re continually working to embed sustainability as a value rather than a short-term priority, so it’s taken into all discussions and not positioned as ‘at odds’ with, for example, financial considerations.
“Because our business is so spread out and a lot of our employees are either front-line or on a client account, they don’t necessarily interact directly with ISS very often. So we’ve had to be creative and use every channel possible to get our messages across, including social media.”
If I had to describe my generation in one word or phrase, I would say:
A successful 2019-20 for me looks like:
“Taking the opportunity to look at innovations as we work towards net-zero, which is a huge target that will completely change the way businesses think. We’re really open to a range of options to deliver against net-zero, so it’ll be an exciting time.
“As part of this, I’ll be exploring the role which offsetting could play. Not in the traditional sense of buying credits which plant trees here and there, but investing in specific renewable energy and storage projects.
“Now the national target has been set, we have to take the opportunity to get stuck in and see which solutions are the best fit for the business and our clients. I’m keen to see what we’ll achieve; we have a good team together and so does the client, which makes going beyond the day-to-day it much less daunting.
“Another key focus will be engagement. We want to reach out to new audiences beyond the internal business, through initiatives such as the million trees project and our pledge platforms. Getting your boots on the ground is one of the most fun parts of the role.”
In five years’ time, I would like to be:
“Before working on a client account, I’d have said ‘being a director of sustainability in a business, making ambitious strategic choices, creating a strong team around me, and having the final say on policies’.
“But now, I look at the operational side and think I’d love to be on another really forward-thinking account, leading a great team of sustainability designers, managers and analysts.
“Either way, I’d like to be leading a team of like-minded people with a variety of sustainability skills and expertise to help a business deliver real change. Whether that’s internally or through an account, I know that what’s important to me is harnessing the potential to deliver transformational change across strategies and practices.”
Outside of my career, I enjoy:
“Doing anything outdoors – skiing, cycling, walking…
“Hockey is another big passion of mine. I’ve played for years but I had an injury recently, which has been a setback and has meant I’ve had to reconsider the sports I do. So, I’ve taken up sailing instead.”
My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business is:
“Be ambitious, be innovative and be transparent.
“I think transparency is so key for any business to avoid greenwashing. Unless businesses are honest about where they are over-performing, on target and not doing so well, progress towards net-zero and other big goals won’t be enough. Transparency will help you identify where there are opportunities to improve your impact internally, and where you’ll need to collaborate to gain additional support.”
My key piece of advice for any young professionals entering my industry today is:
“Be patient. You may not get your dream role as your first job, but you’ll get there through hard work, building up your knowledge base and sphere of influence.
“Also, people may not share your views at first, so you need to be prepared to adapt the ways you get your ideas across depending on who you’re trying to engage.
“Overall, keep up your passion and don’t let your passion get pushed back. Sooner or later, you’ll find the right people to help you amplify your impact for the better.”
The full Class of 2019 series can be viewed here.
Want to join edie’s 30 Under 30 for the Class of 2020?
The hugely popular 30 Under 30 initiative is returning for 2020 and we are now welcoming free nominations from and on behalf of talented sustainability and energy professionals – aged under 30 and based in the UK – to form our all-new ‘Class of 2020’.