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My journey to sustainability

Tue 19 Jan 2021 | 09:31 am GMT
June Kirkwood | Products of Change Writer

June Kirkwood from Nutmeg Licensing

Products of Change ambassador for carbon footprint, June Kirkwood talks about her learnings last year and why she’s on board with Products of Change As well as being a time for making resolutions, January also offers an opportunity to reflect on the year that’s gone by. While 2020 will obviously be remembered for the COVID pandemic, for me it was the year when, finally, I drew a line in the sand and committed Nutmeg Licensing to focus on sustainability. Having learnt on the job through my work with the Eden Project, I felt the need to reinforce this through learning. I’d heard about the University of Cambridge’s Business Sustainability Management course and, with an enthusiastic recommendation from Helena Mansell-Stopher who had already completed this, decided to enrol. Supported by a tutor and with input from fellow students, the 8-week online course provided a practical approach to implementing sustainability in a corporate setting. It turned out my timing was perfect; when the country went into lockdown halfway through the course, it proved to be a welcome distraction. While the course itself was time consuming and exacting, I relished the opportunity to get back to learning and found it hugely energising. The icing on the cake was the chance to connect with a group of like-minded sustainability professionals, whose moral support during the course was invaluable and whose energy and enthusiasm after the course has spurred me on. While the course provided a solid foundation in sustainability, it became clear that this was just the tip of the iceberg. I joined numerous webinars, expanding my knowledge of getting to net zero, resilient supply chains, innovation and behavioural change. I joined a weekly session on the Circular Economy run by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation over 10 weeks, gaining more insight into what I had already been practicing through my work on the Eden Project’s licensing programme. It helped reinforce the need to focus on areas that were relevant to my work; circular economy and sustainable production and consumption, and their impact on carbon footprint. I also stepped up to the mark with the Products of Change group, agreeing to lead the Carbon Footprint initiative. With Helena’s endless energy and enthusiasm, Products of Change was really starting to make an impact within the licensing industry, highlighting the importance of sharing knowledge and understanding to help educate the industry about what it meant to be sustainable. For me, Products of Change offered the opportunity to meet with like-minded licensing executives who also had a passion for sustainability, sharing our knowledge and exploring how best to build this across the licensing industry. In the spirit of self-knowledge and development, I also took time to acknowledge where my skills were lacking and sought to improve these through coaching sessions, both in a group and individually. When working from home, it’s easy to become entrenched and these sessions helped me to grow in both confidence and approach, not least of all in online meetings, which I had found challenging. Throughout this period, I was in regular contact with my Cambridge cohort and, finding a group of like-minded consultants with a diverse set of skills, we formed the Sustaineers Consultants. With business expertise across a number of sectors, this alliance of sustainability consultants is working to demystify sustainability for companies, explaining the business case for becoming a sustainable business and using our specialist knowledge and experience to lead this process. Taking stock of the past 12 months, I’m so grateful for the journey I have been on, being able to dedicate time to learning about sustainability and building a wide network of similarly inspired business-people. So, while the COVID pandemic continues to impact heavily on all of our lives, I’m actually starting the year with a clearer understanding of what sustainability is all about, a desire to help the licensing industry embrace a sustainable future and feeling optimistic about the road ahead.
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