60-second sustainability skill - The Collaborator

The next in our series of sustainability skills videos sees Supply Chain Sustainability School chair Shaun McCarthy explain how sustainability professionals can use collaborative skills and techniques to drive positive change within their organisation and beyond.

Supply Chain Sustainability School chair Shaun McCarthy discusses the role of ‘The Collaborator’ within a sustainability team. (Scroll down to play video).

Supply Chain Sustainability School chair Shaun McCarthy discusses the role of ‘The Collaborator’ within a sustainability team. (Scroll down to play video).

This series of short videos breaks down some of the essential skills that sustainability and CSR professionals can utilise to take their abilities onto the next level; delivered through 60-second pitches from a selection of highly-experienced sustainability leaders and advisors.

Each video features a different sustainability expert discussing a particular skill, with the series running throughout edie's 'Sustainability Skills Month', which concludes with the Sustainability Skills Workshop on 30 November.

VIDEO: 60-second sustainability skill - The Collaborator

In the above video, independent advisor, author and speaker in the field of sustainable business policy and practice Shaun McCarthy discusses the role of ‘The Collaborator’ within a sustainability team. What skills are required for a sustainability professional to collaborate with others - even rivals - to drive climate action? 

McCarthy uses his experience as Supply Chain Sustainability School chair and director of the Action Sustainability consultancy to explain that being an effective disruptor is all about being able to see the greater good when taking on any sustainability challenge.

“I believe the environmental, social and economic issues that we face in the world are far too big for one organisation to grapple," McCarthy said. "The skills we need to learn and the new knowledge we need to create are vast.

"It’s a huge challenge for any organisations that previously saw themselves as competitors to collaborate to build the knowledge that we need. But once we have this knowledge in place, then we can compete to leverage off that knowledge for a better future.” 

Dax Lovegrove's top tips on disruptive innovation in sustainability

- Be prepared to lead the way. Most climate and sustainability issues are bigger thing than all of us and so tackling these issues can only be done collaboratively. Once you have formed collaborations on these key issues, you can start to use that as a platform for even greater things. Now that we have the Supply Chain Sustainability School established as a long-term, collaborative initiative that everyone wants to join, we can start to adopt a leadership position, and we’ve started to form special interest groups that look at specific issues.

- Networking is king. Collaboration is about networking and engaging with people; understanding what’s out there and discovering the platforms that you can get involved with. Networking is a big part of any sustainability professional’s job. To go along to an edie conference is not just a cushty day out of the office, it’s an opportunity to steal and build on other people’s ideas.

- Communicate with the procurement people. Procurement is where I started in my career and I got into sustainability by accident over the years. One of the reasons I started my business [Action Sustainability] is because sustainability professionals and procurement professionals do not speak the same language – sometimes I think they don’t even live on the same planet. Procurement is often seen as a blocker to some sustainability initiatives getting off the ground, but it’s really a language thing; it’s about communicating effectively and being very clear about supporting the objectives that the company is trying to achieve and not necessary putting forward your opinion.

- Where’s the business benefit? Why would you do it if there wasn’t a business benefit? As a sustainability advisor to a lot of corporations, I never ask clients to do anything that won’t benefit the business – I’m not there to preach or make them feel guilty or tell them to “save the planet”. There has to be a business benefit, and in the vast majority of cases there is, it’s just a case of ensuring that everyone knows exactly what it is.


edie's sustainability skills month and workshop

The month of November sees edie shift the editorial spotlight from green building to sustainability skills, ahead of the edie Skills Workshop on 30 November in London (find out more and register to attend here).

From presentation skills and building the business case to the power of influence and persuasion, this month of exclusive videos, features and podcasts will pro-actively address the sustainability skills gaps and lay the foundations for businesses to take the next steps in their sustainability journey.

Read all of our sustainability skills content here.


Luke Nicholls


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| supply chain | Sustainability Skills | video | Skills & training

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