Meet edie’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2019: Joshua Davies, Multiplex
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: Joshua Davies, sustainability manager at construction giant Multiplex.
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 Joshua Davies, sustainability manager at construction contractor Multiplex.
How I got to where I am now:
“I’d say that my sustainability journey started 11 years ago when I was considering my options for further study at sixth form.
“I knew I wanted to go to university and to study something science-based, but I was originally looking at a degree in biology. When I went to the University of Southampton to look at their biology course, my mother encouraged me to look around the whole campus while we were there, and we found ourselves outside of the centre for environmental sciences. She reminded me that I had always been passionate about the outdoors and encouraged me to consider all my options.
“Fast-forward one hour, I’d sat in the centre’s presentation and was completely sold on what I’d seen. It was a life-changing moment – I knew right then and there that this is what I wanted to do, not just academically, but as my vocation.
“I started my four-year master of environmental science course that September, and it was fantastic because it got me working with industry straight away. On top of that, I managed to do a lot of volunteering and interning with a range of different organisations, including the local council and the students’ union.
“When I finished my degree, I had quite a bit to talk about in interviews and started out at AECOM as a sustainability consultant. After a few years, I made the jump over into construction with Multiplex, where I’ve been for around four years now.”
My biggest career achievement to date has been:
“As part of my role I work to ensure that live construction sites with a combined value of around £1bn meet the sustainability requirements of the project as set by the client, regulator, other stakeholders and our own strategy.
“One of these sites is One Blackfriars on London’s South Bank, where I’ve just finished up after almost four years. It’s this 50-storey residential tower with quite a unique shape, which some people have called a ‘boomerang’.
“I’m proud that we were able to achieve all of the sustainability targets for the development, of which there were a massive range – partly because the client, St George, is very committed to sustainability. We met the Code for Sustainable Homes for all of the tower’s 273 apartments and achieved BREEAM Excellent for the hotel building and BREEAM Very good for the retail building. We also won the client’s ‘most sustainable site’ award, given quarterly at audits, five times.
“There were also some really stringent local employability requirements set by Southwark Borough Council for this project, which we were able to meet or exceed.
“More broadly, I’m very fortunate that I get to drive sustainability change across the business in my role. I was involved in setting up Multiplex’s new ‘Net Positive’ sustainability strategy and one of its key facets – our science-based target. Delivering that for the business took two-and-a-half years of hard work by me and four others. I’d say that’s a real game-changer for not just us but our whole supply chain.”
The biggest challenge I have encountered along the way is:
“Ensuring that sustainability is embedded throughout all processes – and, more importantly, in the culture of the business. Without that, driving positive change really does become a lot more difficult.
“Equally challenging is making sustainability relevant to the range of stakeholders within, and outside of, the business. The term can mean so many different things to different people, which makes it a sort of double-edged sword; while you can get people to buy into at least one of its many different aspects, sometimes the message can become a bit diluted.
“I’ve learned that overcoming this usually involves linking into something the stakeholder is really passionate about, or, more commonly, to the commercial benefits like long-term value.”
If I had to describe my generation in one word or phrase, I would say:
“We are challenging the norm.”
A successful 2019-20 for me looks like:
“My first big focus is to complete my management and leadership qualification through Multiplex’s Aspire programme. This is something that will really help me to better lead my team. Once I finish this qualification, I want to start my chartership application with IEMA.
“I’ll be focusing, more generally, on driving the ‘Net Positive’ sustainability strategy and making sure Multiplex meets its 2019 targets, both for my projects and across the wider business.
“I’ll also be working hard to meet the sustainability requirements of my two live sites, One Nine Elms and DAMAC Tower, with my team, and helping the two graduates who report to me to develop their careers and meet their own goals.”
In five years’ time, I would like to be:
“Continuing my career in sustainable construction. I want to still be waking up in the morning and looking forward to coming to work.
“I’m very lucky to be in an industry where I am passionate about what I do and feel privileged every day. I’d love to spend the next few years getting to a place where I can be in a position to drive even more impact and, eventually, become seen as a leader in the profession.”
Outside of my career, I enjoy:
“I love team sport and, over the past three years or so, I’ve also gotten into outdoor running. When I’m not doing that, I’m playing football with my colleagues or badminton with my wife.
“Aside from that, travelling is another big passion of mine. I know it sounds cliché, but I’m always keen to see more of the world.
“I also want to spend some time this year reducing my own environmental impact, as I’m sure a lot of the others in 30 Under 30 do. I love to try new cuisines, but I’ll be aiming to phase out my meat consumption.”
My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business is:
“Be brave. Businesses should be treating the challenges of today as the opportunities of tomorrow, or they will be left behind.”
My key piece of advice for young professionals entering my industry today is:
“If you’re still in the early stages of your career, get as much experience as you can – especially if you’re studying. This will help you pinpoint what you enjoy and what you don’t, and give you plenty to talk about in interviews. By volunteering or interning, doors to a range of new opportunities could well open for you.
“I’d also say that you need to be quite resilient because every day, you’re tasked with tackling some of the most pressing challenges of our time – and businesses are looking to young professionals to lead on this agenda.
“Business has got a long way to go in a very short amount of time if all national and international sustainability targets are going to be met, and it’s important to remember that no one person can do this on their own.”
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@example.com.