Meet edie’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2023: Jack Preece, Bupa

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, Jack Preece, ESG & sustainability specialist at Bupa.

Meet edie’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2023: Jack Preece, Bupa

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 Jack Preece, ESG & sustainability specialist at healthcare and health insurance giant Bupa.

How I got to where I am now…

“I’ve somewhat fallen into where I am now, but I’ve always had a small voice in the back of my head guiding me towards a career where I can have a positive impact on the world.

“My earliest memory of this was a physics lesson in secondary school. We were learning about energy systems, which was where I was first introduced to the idea of onshore wind.  I remember being fascinated by the concept; ‘free energy?!’ I screamed internally. ‘Why isn’t the world already doing this, this seems like a no-brainer!’. 15 years later, I like to think I understand the political nuances of energy a little more. But even though I know renewables aren’t completely free, I still sometimes feel like that bewildered 13-year-old boy, struggling to understand why on earth we still aren’t there yet.

“After school, I studied for an undergraduate degree in business management at Newcastle University. I loved the experience in undergrad, but it wasn’t until I began my Masters in renewable energy enterprise and management (‘REEM’ for short) that I really started to take things seriously.

“After graduating in 2018, I started work as an energy auditor across the way in Gateshead. But after five years in the Northeast, I felt it was time to take the plunge and move to London. In 2019, I started a temporary role in climate policy at specialist cultural climate consultancy, Julie’s Bicycle.

“I then joined Carbon Intelligence in 2020, where I really began to hone my interests in data, analytics, carbon accounting and climate-related assessments. I finally joined Bupa’s Group Sustainability team in January 2022. My current role is an amalgamation of everything I’ve learned to date – helping our teams across the world to calculate, understand and act on sustainability challenges in Bupa’s supply chains.”

My biggest career achievement to date has been…

“I’m still in awe at all the amazing things I’ve been privileged to do and the people I’ve met over the years. But I feel my greatest achievement to date is graduating from my Masters course. Being the first in my family to go to university was one thing, but even I didn’t think a Masters was on the cards.

“My final thesis was on the environmental impacts of greenfield music festivals, in which I was, alongside the opportunity to meet some great people and have a boogie, able to combine some of the areas I found most interesting – environment, numbers and music. The cherry on top was being awarded top marks in the REEM class that year. Turns out all-nighters really can get you somewhere. It proved to me that this was not only genuine career opportunity, but that I was surprisingly good at it too.”

The biggest challenge I have encountered has been…

“From a professional perspective, every day can be a challenge working in climate. Hearing the latest climate science news, seeing natural disasters around the world, and hearing conflicting views from global leaders can often make you feel somewhat hopeless.

“On a personal level, 2020-21 was my biggest challenge to date. I’d only just set myself up in London before we were plunged into lockdown. Looking back, I don’t remember a lot of the details, just that I wasn’t happy, and it all felt very much like groundhog day. I’m someone who thrives off the energy of my friends and family, and not being able to see or hug them was so difficult for me.

“I’ll always appreciate my manager at the time who really got me through that rough period.”

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

“Changemakers, trailblazers, trendsetters.”

A successful 2024 for me looks like…

“In a word, action.

“Now the business is comfortable with the numbers and knows the key target areas, I want to create meaningful action by empowering our teams globally to reduce our environmental impact and change the way we do business. Bupa is in a unique position to play a leading role in encouraging our suppliers, partners and the wider industry to make sustainability the default.

“A key message I want to land in 12 months is that adding a sustainability lens to everything we do can be a real game-changer. Some teams are already doing it, but we need to empower them with the tools and knowledge to make informed, measured, sustainable choices, with hard evidence to support it.

“The impacts also need to go further than the tonnes of emissions avoided or reduced. We need to drive impact at the interlink between human and planetary health operational costs, new products, opportunities, nature, employee wellbeing and much more.”

Outside of my career, I enjoy…

“Quite an eclectic mix of things! I’ve already mentioned my big two loves – music and my friends. They’re really the two things which get me through it.

“Other than that, I enjoy eating out; going to clubs and parties – though, definitely not as many as I used to; playing Dungeons and Dragons; spending time at the gym; going on walks or chilling with friends in the many parks and green spaces around London; going for a dip in my local lido, and seeing the latest exhibitions. The real beauty of living in London is that there’s no end to new places to visit or things to try. I’m sure this list will continue to expand over the years.”

My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business leaders is…

“It’s a simple message – there is no business on a dead planet. Our society, systems and customers all rely on nature and the climate. We’ve been taking it for granted for so long. Now’s the opportunity to correct years of mistakes and to be known as the generation that finally acted for the benefit of everyone.

“For industries close to home like healthcare, I’d highlight that the over-reliance we have on nature is astronomical, whether for research, ingredients for new or old drugs, or keeping people happy and healthy to begin with. According to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, over 80% of registered medicines either come from, or have been inspired by, the natural world. Imagine the damage to our health this could have if key ingredients start becoming extinct.

“Listen to the experts, learn what your business can do to help, and do then do something meaningful about it.”

My top piece of advice to any young people entering my profession today would be…

“Try as many things as possible. Find your passion. Do something that interests you and makes you happy. Because the possibilities and opportunities are almost endless.

“I’ve learned that everyone has their own niche and skills to bring to sustainability. Some people love numbers, some love public speaking. Some love creating visuals and tables, others physically gag over the sight of a spreadsheet. Some love empowering their colleagues, and others love preaching the message externally.

“I realised I didn’t feel comfortable or confident in myself until I found the thing I was interested in, and now I have, I feel like I’m thriving. But I wouldn’t have made it here without trying everything I could along the way. The best experiences are the ones you try, and immediately regret or hate. You then know exactly what you don’t want to do.”

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:

    Do not forget those bits of paper which say, though not in so many words, “This character has a good knowledge of …………. and the surrounding areas”.

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