What inspires you?
I am inspired by individuals who are working to change the world for the better, in ways large and small. Malala Yousafzai, for instance, is an amazing example, overcoming nearly insurmountable challenges – even almost being killed – to serve as a beacon for gender equality in education. Not everyone will be a Malala, but we should all aspire to have that kind of impact.
Which B Team challenge or initiative are you motivated by most, and how is your organization helping to lead on the issue?
Creating “The Business Plan for Sustainable Development” is something that I’m very aligned with as Director General of the GSMA. In 2016, the mobile industry united behind the common purpose of “Connecting Everyone and Everything to a Better Future.” Supporting this purpose, we also became the first sector as a whole to commit to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I am proud to say that we already making great progress against all 17 of the Goals, but we are focused on accelerating and amplifying our impact – and we have a long way to go still.
What convinced you to take on this challenge? Why do you believe that it cannot be achieved without business engagement and leadership?
As an industry, we have an opportunity – and, I believe, an obligation – to leverage the mobile networks that we have built and the services we deliver to help achieve the SDGs. The SDGs represent an ambitious agenda, and it will be impossible for any one organisation, or any one industry, to achieve them in isolation. And of course, we will not succeed without strong private-public partnerships – this is something that all of us need to be focused on achieving.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned on this journey?
That nothing happens quickly! We are making good progress and taking the right steps – but if we are to meet the 2030 deadline, we all need to make this a priority and part of our everyday business, from top to bottom.
What is the first thing you read every morning?
Since I’ve been living in London, my go-to in the morning is BBC.com, then email and then Twitter.
What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur seeking to start a new company today?
Don’t be afraid to take big chances. We all fail at some point in our lives, but if we don’t take big chances, we will never experience big success either.
If there is one big change you could make in the world today, what would it be?
That’s a tough question! I would put arresting climate change at the top of every country’s agenda – it is such a pressing issue and it impacts so many other aspects of our world. I think that we are making progress – the Paris Agreement is testament to the desire to move forward – but we are not moving fast enough and, clearly, the entire world is not aligned on this issue. But it is critical that we address this, and do so quickly – we only have one planet after all.
If you were given an extra day next week, how would you spend it?
I would love chance to spend some extra time with my two children – both are now adults with lives of their own, so I don’t get that opportunity as much now, but I always enjoy hearing what they are doing. I always learn something from them.
What one thing would you change to help more companies go further, faster, towards sustainable business?
I think it’s the perception that an individual company cannot affect change or have an impact. Clearly, achieving the SDGs is not something that any of us can do alone – as individuals, as companies, even as an industry. But working together, we truly can make a difference.
This interview is part of a series to help you get to know the B Team leaders, what they are working on and what they are passionate about. You can read Richard Branson’s interview here, Yolanda Kakabadse’s interview here, Sharan Burrow’s interview here, Bob Collymore’s interview here, David Crane’s here, Christiana Figueres’ here, Arif Naqvi’s here, Arianna Huffington’s here, Guilherme Leal’s here and expect a new one each month.