As society continues to navigate the climate crisis, the role of a chief sustainability officer (CSO) has never been more urgent or important. Today's CSO is expected to assess risk and build resilience, identify emerging opportunities, and influence the thinking and behaviour of businesses, investors, governments and regulators - all for the better.  

Part of understanding and strengthening this ever-evolving role means unpacking the skillset required and the challenges faced. With that, Acre has launched a series of interviews with sustainability leaders across different industries, from around the world, to share their perspectives on the current and future role of the CSO.  

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The Evolution of the CSO's Role

How has the role and the sustainability leadership landscape developed over the last 3 years and how will it change in the coming 5 years?

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The Skillset Required

What advice would you give to anyone aspiring to become a CSO? What skillsets and networks are needed to become future change-makers?

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Reflection on COP26

Reflecting on COP26, what’s next for tackling the climate crisis?

Meet Your Hosts

Quotes from the Series

  • Nicola Kimm

    ​"One call to action is to work across the company, work across your value chain and don’t be afraid to be bold. Make bold commitments and think bold."

    Nicola Kimm - Chief Sustainability Officer

    HeidelbergCement
  • Martin Kathriner

    ​“We need to train young people to be creative with the planning and with the execution of strategies that are either creating opportunities or creating risks”

    Martin Kathriner - Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Director

    Coca Cola HBC
  • The Future of the CSO

    ​“The changes are all around taking a holistic view of business and being able to translate that into a vision, into a strategy and practical actions. The requirements for the Chief Sustainability Officer have exploded and we have to be able to do all of those things, all of the time.”

    Daniella Vega - Global Senior Vice President of Health & Sustainability

    Ahold Delhaize
  • Michael Dickstein

    ​“In order to perform on such a level, you need to have past experience in sales, stakeholder engagement or supply chain - there are various areas of the business that interrelates with sustainability. The more background you have, the better it is”

    Michael Dickstein - CSR Leader

  • The Future of the CSO

    ​“Sustainability is something that should be embedded in everyone’s functions within the company and everyone should take responsibility for their part.”

    Annamiek de Graaf - Specialist - Health & Sustainability

    Ahold Delhaize
  • The Future of the CSO

    “Lose the emotion, lose the triple bottom line - it’s not about being pragmatic, it’s asking if your business is sustainable and if not why not.”

    Tony Henshaw - Experienced Board Member

  • Miguel Veiga-Pestana

    "​To be able to play your part alongside your peers in a leadership team, it helps to have business acumen. My advice would be to try and find a way to get that capability and insight as it’s so important. If you want to be strategic and play that strategic role, everything we are doing is about embedding it into a business strategy."

    Miguel Veiga-Pestana - Chief Sustainability Officer

    Reckitt
  • The Future of the CSO

    ​"Doing what I do is the best job in the world."

    Julia Barrett - Chief Sustainability Officer

    Willmott Dixon
  • The Future of the CSO

    “It’s now much more about working together. If you lead a team, it’s about finding cross-functioning teams, upskilling people and getting the right experts within the company on board. It’s about being the glue and facilitator, being consultative and empowering others - This is more important now than ever before."​

    Dorothée D'Herde - Head of Sustainable Business

    Vodafone
  • Harriet Talbot

    "​When you get in your lane and you’re really curious about something there’s no stopping you. If you continually read and think about things in your life, you can build that picture of how you want to make an impact through your career."

    Harriet Talbot - Global Sustainability Manager

    Unilever
  • Rebecca Marmot

    ​"When you are thinking about the Chief Sustainability Officer role, you have got to be curious - read, engage with others. I spend a lot of time reading different forms of media and other people’s opinions from different areas to really understand the big emerging macro-level issues."

    Rebecca Marmot - Chief Sustainability Officer

    Unilever
  • Deeksha Vats

    "​In my view, the one person who is actually the Chief Sustainability Officer of a company is the CEO or the Managing Director. They have a viewpoint of what the customers are asking about from their head offices and marketing department, and therefore know what changes need to be made.”

    Deeksha Vats - Chief Sustainability Officer

    Aditya Birla Group

Our Latest Episodes

  • Episode 2 • Digital Standards Initiative

    ​Joining us for the second episode of the 'Future of the CSO - APAC' series is Pamela Mar, Managing Director of the Digital Standards Initiative and former Executive Vice President – Knowledge & Applications at the Fung Group. At the time of the interview, Pam led the Fung Academy’s knowledge generation, application, and dissemination in support of the Fung Group’s business success and readiness for the future. Her ongoing dedication to the industry, knowledge and passion made her the ideal interviewee for episode 2.

    Episode 2 • Digital Standards Initiative

Who is Involved?

Acre

At Acre, we work with the most aspirational businesses with the potential to make real change; from those who are just starting out to those who are well on their journey to crafting a legacy. Our two decades of experience in sustainability recruitment, combined with our extensive global network, enables us to provide talent solutions that are designed to deliver this change.

Through our unique behavioural assessment technology, we also understand the types of people, skills and behaviours required to create impact.

Patricia Dwyer, CEO at The Purpose Business
Co-Host of our APAC 'Future of the CSO' Interviews

Pat is an internationally-respected sustainability expert, passionate about sharing her 20+ years of experience and leadership to help businesses in Asia thrive through responsible growth. She has guest lectured, spoken and moderated across global platforms including The Obama Foundation, The World Economic Forum, The Thomson Reuters Foundation, The University of Cambridge and The Climate Competent Boards Certificate Program, sharing her insights in sustainability, purpose, leadership and governance.


Pat and her team of globally-experienced sustainability and business practitioners across industry, academia, NGOs and government at The Purpose Business, guide companies to activate purpose, address ESG impacts and scale sustainability responsibly, in order to future-proof their business. Pat has advised and worked with blue chip companies including MTR, The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Marsh Asia, Cathay Pacific, Jardine Matheson, Swire Properties, Universal Robina, Metro Pacific Investment Corporation, and Ayala.

Mike Barry, Director at mikebarryeco
Co-Host of our UK & European 'Future of the CSO' Interviews

Mike is a leader in sustainable change. During his time at M&S, he helped evolve Plan A to become a change management programme designed to make sustainability 'how M&S did business'. The business achieved zero-waste-to-landfill status, moved to 100% renewable electricity and achieved carbon neutrality across its global estate of stores, offices and warehouses. Having worked at an international level of business, with charities, with think tanks, and with start-ups, he has a broad array of experience. Upon leaving M&S he formed mikebarryeco ltd in order to support organisations across society and the economy to deliver sustainable change.

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