Congratulations to the sustainability leaders of today – and tomorrow

Published: 24 Jun 2020
Type: News

Today, Greenbiz released it's fifth annual 30 Under 30 list, naming a group of twentysomethings who are sustainability leaders in their companies, non-profits and communities, tackling diverse challenges — from cultivating a more sustainable food system to advocating for climate justice on behalf of disadvantaged communities to testing best practices for circular cities to negotiating impactful renewable energy contracts. 

WBCSD is delighted to congratulate all the recipients of the 2020 award, and gives a special recognition to the three who hail from WBCSD member companies:  Charlotte Bande (Quantis), Katerina Fragos (PwC) and Benjamin Price (Saint-Gobain NOVA).

“I’m honored to recognize these three leaders from WBCSD members for their achievements both inside and outside their companies”, said Peter Bakker, President & CEO WBCSD.

“These young people exemplify the qualities that we need to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world. Visionary, talented and passionate, they have the capacity to create profound and sustained change. It’s essential that we support young leaders as they grow into positions of maturity, particularly by ensuring that sustainability is embedded in their leadership style and their company strategy. From start-ups to established multi-nationals, the business world must seize the opportunities presented by sustainability, particularly as we enter a ‘new normal’ after COVID-19. Young leaders like this will help the world build back better, and it is our honour to work with them and their companies as we strive for a better future”, Mr Bakker said.

WBCSD runs two independent executive programs every year designed to upskill both young and established leaders in the areas of sustainability practice, leveraging partnerships with Yale University in the USA and ESADE in Spain:

  • LEAP is a new project kicking off in 2020 with a year-long curriculum that is designed specifically for women and sustainability, building on the success of the Leading Women Awards
  • The Leadership Program, a unique executive education program for both men and women, focused on business, leadership and sustainable development.  

 A summary of the three recipients follows below, in alphabetical order.  

Charlotte Bande, 29: Senior Sustainability Consultant — Climate Strategy Lead, Quantis International.

Belgium-born strategist Charlotte Bande connects her career in sustainable business to two incidents: an encounter on vacation in Egypt as a preteen with a young boy brushing his teeth with mudwater, and her father’s decision to leap into a sustainability role while she was pursuing her degree in commercial engineering and sustainable development. The first inspired her quest to find a job with "purpose" while the second woke her to the possibility of bringing that mission to a corporate role. 

During her five years with Quantis, Bande has advised some of the world’s largest companies in the food, cosmetics and apparels sectors, helping them define science-based targets, insetting initiatives and carbon pricing approaches. She’s an advocate of "Absolute Sustainability," a Quantis philosophy that challenges businesses to take planetary boundaries into account not just for carbon emissions but also for biodiversity, land use, freshwater consumption, the phosphorus cycle and the nitrogen cycle. 

 "She’s an incredibly clear and transversal thinker, works hard to know the facts and the science that underlie her advice, has a strong sense of purpose," observes one of the half-dozen people who nominated Bande to this list. 

Passionate about kite-surfing and wakeboarding, Bande describes herself as a "slow traveler," someone who enjoys learning new cultures. Her frequent travels have taken her to Croatia, Morocco and Australia, and she’s starting a personal blog to explore changes she can make to her lifestyle to support the sustainability cause. "Learning, thinking and teaching; that gets me moving," she says.  

Katerina Fragos, 28: Manager, Sustainability and Climate Change Consulting, PwC.

If Katerina Fragos could grant humanity a superpower, it’s the ability to think in systems, being able to understand the complexities within an ecosystem or a city and map out unintended consequences. "If I could just have a perfectly systemic mind that's able to make these connections ... it would make all these global challenges easily digestible with the snap of your fingers," she says.

In that spirit, Fragos helps guide some of Canada’s largest, most impactful organizations toward their sustainability and ESG objectives. Her clients at PwC include corporations from the energy, transportation and retail sectors, government agencies and nonprofits with goals in biodiversity, circular economy, climate change, social inclusion and human rights. They turn to Fragos’ team for tasks such as assembling metrics for CDP disclosures, developing science-based targets, penning sustainability reports or helping a board tie emissions reductions to C-suite performance incentives.

On the side, Fragos teaches a sustainability course at McGill University and offers pro bono support to help local startups and social enterprises embrace sustainability principles. Her desire to make an impact warmed up in college after hearing activist environmentalist author David Suzuki speak. Working as an account executive at Procter & Gamble, she joined and later co-led the company's Canada sustainability network, eventually pursuing sustainability as a full-time focus.

Fragos savors her dream job at PwC for the tangible change it can spark. "Any time you’re tired, you think about the possible impact and it’s so energizing. Coffee can’t do that..."

Benjamin Price, 29: Venture Manager, Saint-Gobain NOVA.

Benjamin Price is helping a 355-year-old materials giant set the foundation for its future by embracing innovative young startups. Saint-Gobain, which supplied mirrors to the Palace of Versailles in the 17th century, sells $42 billion of construction essentials such as drywall and roofing, in addition to high-performance materials and other tools to improve indoor light, air quality and acoustics. Robotics, additive manufacturing, digital platforms, artificial intelligence, retrofits and prefabrication are all on the table.

"It’s a really exciting time to be in this space," Price says. His work within the small NOVA corporate ventures team differs from that of traditional venture capital: In addition to funding and supporting young companies, it offers access to Saint-Gobain’s massive global footprint of materials businesses and distributors.

Price grew up outside Boston, and after college dove into consulting at PwC and Accenture, learning how big companies can drive change at scale. He was always interested in innovation, so in his spare time, he created a "micro fund," inviting people he knew to invest in startups.

Pre-COVID-19, Price traveled to his company’s offices in Paris and Shanghai, spending half his time at startup events and pitch days, the other half meeting internally. He’s hoping to return to Kenya, where he spent two months several years ago. That led to serving on the board of a teacher-training and rural youth-mentorship organization, the Flying Kites School Network. Back home in Boston, he also volunteers with Caritas Communities, which provides jobs for people without homes.

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