Meet edie’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2023: Elliot Cyriax, Bankers for Net Zero

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, Bankers for Net Zero’s head of strategy & programmes, Elliot Cyriax.

Meet edie’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2023: Elliot Cyriax, Bankers for Net Zero

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 Elliot Cyriax, head of strategy & programmes at Bankers for Net Zero.

How I got to where I am now:

“I was born and raised London and growing up here means I grew a deep interest in how urban, economic, social, and political processes impact our environment. I continued to study my favourite subject, Geography, at Manchester University, which broadened my understanding of the interaction between people and their environment. Interestingly, while at university, I tended to avoid physical modules related to climate change, but focusing on human geographies broadened my understanding of the diverse cultural, economic, urban, and political dimensions of current global challenges.

“After graduating and during the pandemic, I interned at various startups across London. The agile nature and occasionally chaotic nature of startups have always appealed to me for my sins. In 2021, I found myself working as a trainee management consultant in a startup in London. I trained in project management and business transformation and had hands-on experience consulting in SMEs and NGOs to develop their business capacities. Here, I was seconded to a small NGO making waves at the intersection of policy development, financial services and sustainability commitments: Bankers for Net Zero.

“Alongside the co-founder Heather Buchanan, over the course of my secondment, I built the foundations of B4NZ’s delivery framework for key business areas of B4NZ, covering communications, business development, stakeholder engagement and programme delivery. After a year, I left the consultancy and transitioned to work for B4NZ full-time.

“B4NZ have grown our membership base to more than 18 of the UK’s leading financial and professional services firms, hired five more colleagues, and have been recognised by the industry, Government and civil society as a leading organisation working to mobilise trillions of in green and sustainable finance, in the UK and globally.”

My biggest career achievement to date has been:

“Leading and chairing a programme with the Transition Plan Taskforce, which explored the challenges and opportunities of transition plans for SMEs and how future guidance can be developed to allow small businesses to effectively communicate their climate action plans and champion progress towards a climate-resilient future.

“We chaired a series of workshops and 1;1 interviews, bringing together more than 90 leaders across finance, industry, UK Government, regulators, trade associations and SMEs and co-published our final recommendations with the TPT in April. It was an enormous privilege to be able to lead the discussions and pen the report, especially given the critical importance that transition plans will have for all types of sectors and businesses moving forward.”

The biggest challenge I have encountered has been:

“Reconciling economic interests with environmental concerns.

“Convincing stakeholders of the value of sustainability amidst short-term financial pressures requires negotiation and advocacy skills. Therefore, collaboration across departments and industries is crucial, demanding interpersonal finesse and adeptness at navigating complex organisational structures.

“Communicating the qualitative, long-term benefits of sustainability initiatives is another hurdle, demanding robust measurement frameworks and effective stakeholder engagement. Overall, it’s about striking a strategic balance between economic viability and environmental stewardship, which requires constant adaptation and commitment to driving meaningful change.”

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


A successful 2024 for me looks like:

“Scaling the B4NZ operating model to support more staff and additional programmes.

“We occupy a fascinating nexus of industry commitments, policy development, regulation, business and civil society, and by scaling our operations, we could continue to deliver transformational outcomes for real economy decarbonisation.

“The ultimate ambition would be to be able to support local B4NZ chapters and resources to different jurisdictions across the world, especially in emerging economies, to support capacity building and to make sure that sustainable finance is flowing to the people, communities and industries that need it most.”

Outside of my career, I enjoy:

“Alongside the general fitness activities that loads of people start picking up in their mid 20s, I’ve also started cold water therapy. You can often find me diving into Hampstead Heath men’s pond in the dark of winter or at my local community sauna and ice plunge in East London. They refit disused horse boxes, Finnish-style saunas and old washing tubs into outdoor wood-fired saunas and ice plunges for you to jump between the two. There’s a wealth of health benefits, and it’s great for energy levels and recovery.“

My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business leaders is:

“We need to turbocharge the momentum.

“The private sector is clearly leading the decarbonisation agenda; we now need to double down and demonstrate to the Government and the public that a just and resilient transition to a low-carbon future is attainable and fruitful. Net-zero is the economic opportunity of the 21st Century; through deep and practiced pre-competitive collaboration, the UK stands in a strong position to create new jobs, rebalance the economy, and spur economic growth.”

My key piece of advice for any young people entering my profession today is:

“Keep learning. The climate and sustainability ecosystem is constantly evolving with new research, technologies, and policies, and knowledge of these skills will be sought after more than ever over the coming years. Stay updated on the latest developments by following reputable sources, attending discussions and participating in professional networks.

“Also, as a young person, you stand on the front line of climate action. Young people’s unprecedented mobilisation around the world shows the massive power we possess to hold decision-makers accountable. Be resilient and educate whoever you can to spread awareness and inspire others to take action.”

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.

Comments (1)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    For the young, from an oldie (92).
    Never ignore the opportunity to acquire new knowledge. The process should never stop.
    Ears and eyes first, tongue last and economically, preceded by careful thought.
    Oh! If only!!!!

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