Meet edie’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2023: Dominique Santini, Formula 1

This series profiles the members of edie's 30 Under 30 - a nomination-based community of hugely talented young sustainability and energy professionals who have already achieved great things or are showing fantastic promise. Up next, Formula 1's sustainability manager Dominique Santini.

Meet edie’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2023: Dominique Santini, Formula 1

More than just a list, edie’s annual 30 Under 30 initiative shines a spotlight on talented sustainability and net-zero professionals – aged under 30 – who are delivering on efforts to build a better future and showing fantastic promise for their future potential.

After a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19, the initiative has returned for 2023-4, with the new class having been announced last September.

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.

Our next profile interview is with Dominique Santini, sustainability manager at Formula 1.

How I got to where I am now…

“Like most people, I wasn’t 100% sure what career I wanted to pursue when I left school. To keep my options open, I chose a degree that held the promise of a career with travel and adventure – International Business & Modern Languages at Strathclyde.

“During university, I had the privilege of studying in Chile for a year and took a class on a whim about sustainable business. It completely changed my outlook. When I came back to the UK I did a sales internship in FMCG and just couldn’t unsee the climate damage that the industries I had once revered were causing.

“I did a full 180 and spent the next year earning an MSc in Global Sustainability Solutions at Exeter – where student projects were designed to solve real-life challenges. I completed a project with World Sailing where I learned all about sustainability in sport. By the time I published my dissertation on the topic, I understood the potential that sport has to galvanize global climate action.

“The pandemic was in full swing by the time I graduated, and the sports industry had come to a complete halt. So, I pivoted. After some short stints in clean energy, freelance marketing for a European sports federation, and account management at a sports marketing agency, I was asked to come on board as sustainability manager at sport and entertainment agency CSM (now Wasserman) and more recently, joined Formula 1 as an ESG Manager.

“Honestly, I had a lot of luck along the way – but got to where I am now by following my curiosities, trying new things and finding ways to combine my many interests.”

My biggest career achievement to date has been…

“Leading sustainability efforts at CSM Live, where we planted 10,000 seagrass seeds, 18,000 trees on degraded land and partnered with Born Free to build 13 beehive fences around community lands to prevent elephant poaching in Kenya.

“Another highlight was working on large-scale projects to increase the circularity of event signage with clients like Birmingham Commonwealth Games, UEFA and the LTA.”

The biggest challenge I have encountered has been…

“Delivering transformational change to organisational culture.

“The role of a sustainability professional is to hold up the mirror to organisations that don’t often like looking at their reflection. Getting organisations to not only face these realities but to actively change themselves is a long process that requires relentless resilience from all the individuals involved.

“It’s a lot of collaboration and even more trial and error, especially as much of the work that still needs to be done in sustainability hasn’t ever been done before. We have to create new ways of thinking, build new processes, and connect dots in ways that haven’t yet been imagined. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ roadmap for any of these things and we’re building the plane while flying it!

“It’s a super rewarding process but it can also be tiring. Learning how to strike the right balance between giving your job 110%, whilst also avoiding burnout is a real challenge for many of us.”

If I had to describe my generation in a word or phrase, I would say…

“Empowered visionaries.”

A successful 2024 for me looks like…

“Utilising sport as a platform to accelerate innovations that change the world we live in. In the next 12 months, I hope to find new opportunities to trial and scale up climate tech as well as work on projects that accelerate positive societal tipping points.”

Outside of my career, I enjoy…

“If I’m not getting lost in a good fantasy book, I’m playing team sports or learning something new. Recently I’ve been refurbishing old skateboards and learning how to create animations.”

My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business leaders would be…

“Dare to disrupt.

“Many business leaders worked hard for years to earn their seat at the table. Now they’re at the top, there’s a widespread hesitation to stick their neck too far above the parapet for fear of losing their place.

“But it’s time for them to use their voices to future-proof their organisations and become the kind of leaders that young people respect and admire. They should regularly ask themselves: are the decisions I made today making the world a better place?”

My best advice for any young people entering the sustainability profession is…

“Firstly, many sustainability jobs don’t even exist yet. My last 3 roles were newly created. So don’t get discouraged if you can’t find your dream job right away. Navigating your career is like jumping on stepping stones to cross a pond. Not all stones are the perfect shape or size, but they’re a step in the right direction, even if that’s a side-step.

“To build on that, every job is a climate job. Find ways to implement sustainability in your day-to-day role, no matter your job title, and empower others to do the same.

“Whichever job you are in, communication is key. Networking to learn about different industries, and practicing your presentation and negotiation skills, are both very important.

“Even outside of these more formal conversations, don’t underestimate the impact you can have. Positive tipping points are made of lots of little moments over time.”

The full 30 Under 30 Class of 2023 membership is detailed here

To stay in the loop for the next round of annual nominations for the 30 Under 30, email [email protected]. Nominations will open this summer.

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