Meet edie’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2020: Kate Neale, Cadogan
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: Cadogan's sustainability manager Kate Neale.
The future of business leadership starts right here. Earlier this 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 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 Kate Neale, who heads up sustainability at London-based property, development and investment firm Cadogan.
How I got to where I am now:
“In my final year of university, I was actually applying for graduate schemes in insurance – mainly because my mum worked in insurance and I wasn’t sure what I could do with a geography degree.
“I had a bit of a lightbulb moment when I was interviewing for one of these schemes; I realised I’d been speaking for ages about the company’s sustainability work and that this was what I cared about most.
“I spent around a year travelling after graduation and, when I got back, I started applying for sustainability jobs in London. I was very fortunate to get a three-month internship researching for a company that provided carbon offsetting – it was a fantastic introduction to the sector because my role was essentially researching potential clients and understanding more about different corporate sustainability practice.
“From there, I went on to a built environment consultancy, then Marks and Spencer, then Hammerson, and finally to Cadogan, where I now work. I’m the company’s first sustainability manager and I am responsible for developing, launching and implementing its first comprehensive sustainability strategy. “
My biggest career achievement to date has been:
“Getting my postgraduate certificate in sustainable business from Cambridge University.
“I always wanted to do further study but couldn’t afford it right after my bachelor’s degree, nor did I know for certain what topic I wanted to pick. But I’m so pleased I did.
“My studies included one research project on responsible pensions and investments, which is such an important topic and particularly relevant right now – please check out the Make My Money Matter campaign.”
The biggest challenge I have encountered along the way is:
“Frustration with the pace of change.
“I’ve been working for eight years and, generally, effecting change within organisations has felt like shifting juggernauts at times.
“I know a lot has changed in this time and before then and, while most organisations and people now understand the importance of sustainability, there are a lot of people who are still happy to say the right thing without following through with action.”
If I had to describe my generation in one word or phrase, I would say:
A successful 2020-21 for me looks like:
“Playing my part in delivering an inclusive and sustainable Covid-19 recovery.
“It’s so important that we don’t detract from the pace of change we need, and that we bring everyone with us. As a colleague said recently, if 2019 was the year of the planet, 2020 is the year of people. And I’m hoping that 2021 is the year of both.
“For Cadogan specifically, launching our new 2030 stewardship strategy and delivering early progress towards our goals is top of my to-do list.”
Outside of my career, I enjoy:
“Travelling. Before this year, I’d spend almost all of my time off exploring new places. My personal mission is to find a way to do this in a more sustainable way.”
My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business is:
“The recovery from Covid-19 must be socially inclusive and accelerate decarbonisation.
“Also, businesses need to think bigger. This means questioning their purpose beyond the day-to-day operations and properly analysing where finance flows. If your pension isn’t aligned with your purpose and corporate sustainability goals, for example, this needs to change sooner rather than later.”
My key piece of advice for any young professionals entering my industry today is:
“Be resilient. Change takes time, so don’t forget to pause every now and then to recognise how far you’ve come and celebrate the wins.
“Also, and this is the most important thing I’ve learned, remember that every voice matters. Make yours heard and take the time to uplift others.”
The full Class of 2020 membership is detailed here.
To stay in the loop for 2021 nominations for the 30 Under 30, email firstname.lastname@example.org.