Meet edie’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2020: Charlotte Pumford, Vivobarefoot
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. Up next: Charlotte Pumford, Vivobarefoot's sustainability manager.
The future of business leadership starts right here. Last year, edie unveiled the second cohort of members of its 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 Charlotte Pumford, sustainability manager at B-Corp certified footwear brand Vivobarefoot.
How I got to where I am now:
“I’ve had a bit of a convoluted journey to get to where I am now, but it all started with a BSc in forensic science and chemistry. I’ve always loved science and the objectivity of utilising scientific principles to find solutions to complex problems. However, through all the science, I also enjoyed the creativity of fashion design, which led me to starting a business focused on exploring the intersection between microbiology and fashion in 2013. It was through the manufacture of science-inspired clothing that my eyes were first opened to the enormous impacts of the global fashion industry
“Deciding I wanted to better equip myself with an understanding of business sustainability in principle, I went back to university to complete an MSc in green economics. During this time, I completed a placement year in my local government’s carbon reduction department, before starting my sustainability career within Primark’s environmental sustainability team in 2016. It was here that I was given the opportunity to manage Primark’s DETOX chemical management programme, influence the business’ sustainability strategy and lead several multi-stakeholder group initiatives
“In 2019, I completed a postgraduate course at Cambridge University in sustainable value chains and, later that year, joined footwear brand Vivobarefoot, working to build the foundations of their regenerative manufacturing programme.”
My biggest career achievement to date has been:
“Leading Vivobarefoot through the B-Corp assessment process, becoming a certified B-Corp business in September 2020.
“I’m proud to be a part of a small challenger brand that balances profit with purpose and recognises that sustainability is no longer enough. Vivobarefoot’s ambitions are set on becoming a regenerative foot-wear business.”
The biggest challenge I have encountered along the way is:
“Working in a large corporate organisation, a small footwear brand and within local government, the challenges around sustainability have been almost identical in nature, just at very different scales and levels of influence.
“Communicating, implementing and monitoring change is by far the biggest challenge I have encountered along the way. Change can often be daunting but taking the time to focus and re-calibrate as to why it is so desperately required often reignites the determination needed for us to make progress.”
If I had to describe my generation in one word or phrase, I would say:
“Unwaveringly determined to do the right thing.”
A successful 2021 for me looks like:
“Working collaboratively with our manufacturing partners and a number of academics and experts, to review our current value chain operations at Vivobarefoot and build a step-by-step blueprint that will take us towards achieving a net-positive impact in the future.”
Outside of my career, I enjoy:
“I’m really lucky to live on the Jurassic Coast, so, in my free time, I’m usually out hiking, exploring the coastline by kayak, or trying to convince myself I’m getting better at wild swimming!”
My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business is:
“Operate with integrity, communicate transparently and collaborate across industries, to find solutions to both our biggest challenges and our biggest opportunities.”
My key piece of advice for any young professionals entering my industry today is:
“Keep asking questions and challenge the norm. Young professionals almost always have innovative ideas and a perceptive approach to identifying levers for change.
“Also, make sure to seek out industry mentors and keep a close-knit group of colleagues, family and friends to support you on this challenging but rewarding ride.”
The full Class of 2020 membership is detailed here.
To stay in the loop for 2021 nominations for the 30 Under 30, email email@example.com.