Posted in: news

27th January 2017

Getting to Know B Team Leader Yolanda Kakabadse

What inspires you?

We are in troubling times, facing many grave challenges: from the ever-growing threat of climate change, to the decimation of natural resources and bio-diversity, to global conflicts and a crisis of mass migration that is only going to escalate. But there are many solutions too, borne from innovation, creativity, the capacity of the human being to develop/adapt and create responses to new situations. I am inspired by these solutions and the people creating them every day, and motivated to help them grow and have bigger impact.

Which B Team cause are you motivated by most, and how is your organization helping to lead on the issue?

The B Team challenges are systemic in nature. They intersect and overlap. Each has the power to create ripples of change and, when achieved together, a new future for all of us. As a long-time conservationist I am deeply committed to the Climate cause. The state of the ocean is a thematic pillar of WWF at a global level; we work with the fisheries sector, with industry, local authorities, coastal communities and more, to address and reduce the main sources of ocean depletion. At a personal level, I am troubled by food waste. Cultural trends, government regulations and ignorance all collide with the basics of sustainability when it comes to how we produce and consume food. Water, soil, forests, oceans and other ecosystems are all threatened by this issue.

Why do you believe that it cannot be achieved without business engagement and leadership?

‘Business as usual’ is the cause of some of the biggest challenges we face, but progressive companies are also able to innovate for some of the best solutions and bring them to life. All businesses depend on natural resources and people, and so have an interest in ensuring the natural world is protected, and people, who are their employees and customers, live decent lives. Business is a natural lever to help catalyze the change we need to see. Many business leaders are demonstrating that sustainability is a must in order for their companies to prosper. A focus on economic and financial wins alone, leads to inevitable failure in the long-term. I don’t believe that we can solve these challenges without business being on board, and that it is in the interest of all companies to meet them, in order to survive and thrive in the future.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned on this journey?

That each day is an opportunity to learn, to get inspired by nature and human minds that care!

What is the first thing you read every morning?

I try to stay across political news, this is the first thing I look at each morning. Especially politics with a global impact, because we are all connected.

What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur seeking to start a new company today?

There are no limits to what you can do – think big and then start at home.

If there is one big change you could make in the world today, what would it be?

I am deeply concerned about food waste and our production and consumption of food. Did you know that at least one third of all food produced each year is wasted? This waste produces 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse-gases and could be used to feed another 3 billion people. Addressing the issue of food waste will help fight climate change, reduce our impact on the earth’s eco-system, and combat poverty and hunger. A simple change we could make today is to re-envision the criteria for food expiration dates – to reduce unnecessary waste in every household.

If you were given an extra day next week, how would you spend it?

I am energized and inspired by being with my friends and family, I would spend an extra day catching up with them.

What one thing would you change to help more companies go further, faster, towards sustainable business?

Ensure diversity on Corporate Boards. Boards set the direction and strategy of any company. If we want business to embrace sustainability it has to be central to strategy, and part of decision making criteria. By building boards with members who have different backgrounds, experiences, ages, genders, and vision we bring new, progressive perspectives to the table, and ensure companies are lead in a way that is for the benefit of everyone.

This interview is part of a new 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, and expect a new one each month.