Meet edie’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2020: Natalie Orde, Grosvenor Europe
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: Grosvenor Europe's sustainability manager Natalie Orde.
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 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 Natalie Orde, sustainability manager at international property and real estate giant Grosvenor.
How I got to where I am now:
“I studied geography at the University of Cambridge for my undergraduate degree and then, because I had ambitions to become a Chartered Surveyor, I studied for a masters’ in real estate at Oxford Brookes University.
“I was fortunate to get a place on Grosvenor Britain and Ireland’s summer internship programme after completing my degrees, and during the internship, I was asked to complete a project assessing sustainability in Grosvenor’s fund management business and to develop some recommendations.
“After the internship I joined the two-year graduate scheme, working in the asset management, investment and development teams before qualifying as a Chartered Surveyor. After qualifying, I was looking for a new challenge, so I moved across to the European business to a portfolio management role. I was really excited to work with such a diverse portfolio and gain some international experience.
“Soon after joining Grosvenor Europe, I was asked to pick sustainability up again and what was initially a small part of my role rapidly became my main area of focus. With the support of my manager and our CEO, I became Grosvenor Europe’s first full-time sustainability employee in 2019.
“In my current role as sustainability manager, I lead the implementation of our sustainability strategy and oversee all of our data and reporting requirements. I also do a lot of internal engagement, working with the senior team and the wider business to help drive forwards the sustainability agenda.”
My biggest career achievement to date has been:
“Developing Grosvenor Europe’s sustainability strategy and our pathway to net-zero carbon.
“To develop our net-zero carbon strategy, we started by reviewing what we have achieved so far, assessing the emissions that are most material to our business and interviewing people across the business to better understand the risks and opportunities. Going forward, we want to make sure that we have both the high-level strategy and the ability to deliver at asset level.
“We also had to fully consider the commercial implications of the strategy. It was a very in-depth review that has enabled us to pull together a robust and credible strategy that is tailored to our portfolio and reflects our overall business purpose to deliver lasting commercial and social benefit.”
The biggest challenge I have encountered along the way is:
“Understanding that it’s all well and good to create a sustainability strategy and set targets, but it’s really important to understand how you’re going to implement the strategy and what impact it will have on the different parts of the business. You also need to make it relatable for staff and explain what it will mean for their day-to-day roles; there has to be a credible link between strategy and the people on the front line.
“Integrating our strategy into teams and into our business activities and processes is an ongoing focus.
“Another big challenge is communicating outcomes – it’s easier for some targets than for others. For example, it’s much easier to report environmental outcomes like a reduction in energy consumption or carbon emissions and far harder to measure social value. This is something we are continuing to explore.”
If I had to describe my generation in one word or phrase, I would say:
“Ready for change.”
A successful 2020-21 for me looks like:
“Focusing on stakeholders. When it comes to our sustainability strategy, we recognise that collaboration with stakeholders is going to be really important to deliver our goals.
“Internal engagement is also a big priority for me. I want to make sure our staff understand our sustainability strategy and that they are excited and motivated to deliver our goals. I see myself as being more of a facilitator, while the implementation will be led by staff across both our property and non-property teams.”
Outside of my career, I enjoy:
“Being in the countryside and going for walks. I live in London, but I was lucky enough to be in Northumberland with family during the first lockdown, so I spent a lot of my free time exploring the countryside and getting closer to nature.
“I also love to bake, which is something I’m sure a lot of people have spent more time on recently.”
My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business is:
“While Covid-19 has been devastating for businesses and communities, we can’t lose our focus on mitigating climate change. Business-as-usual is no longer a viable option and we need recognise the risks and opportunities which could arise in the long-term.
“Now is a good time to pause and think about what we want the future to look like and embrace change, rather than simply talking about a return to normal.”
My key piece of advice for any young professionals entering my industry today is:
“You can be a sustainability champion whatever your job title is.
“Also, don’t feel restricted by your age or current level of seniority within your business. If you have the confidence to engage with and influence others to drive positive change within your business or the industry more widely, people will notice.”
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.