As a process engineer at AkzoNobel, Bouke Ankone does not have a background in conservation. But after graduating from the Future Leaders Team (FLT), a nine-month programme sponsored by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and focused on sustainable development and training, one might think Ankone would consider a change of course. That likely won’t be the case.
That’s because for Ankone, and many of the other 24 graduates of the FLT, encouraging sustainable business practices can be done from anywhere in an organization.
“The sustainability team at my company does great work,” says Ankone. “But now that I speak the language [of sustainability], I think I can have an equally important impact on the way business is done from my role on the engineering side of the company.”
Ankone and the rest of the FLT are in Jeju at the 2012 IUCN World Conservation Congress to engage in dialogue with the rest of the conservation community about the role the private sector can play in overcoming the world’s conservation challenges.
Participants in the programme are nominated and selected from WBCSD member companies and engage in 25 days of professional development focused on business leadership and sustainable learning. The Congress is a culmination of their work and an opportunity to present projects and engage with conservationists, governments, NGOs and others about the issues they have learned over the past nine months.
“The programme pulls from a diverse subset of companies and nationalities,” says Ankone. “We have a range of backgrounds represented – from engineers to consultants – and the goal is to build a network of ambassadors that will apply the skills and training within their companies.”
"Being from all over the world, we each bring a unique perspective," says Pilar Castillo, Manager for Sustainability Services at Deloitte China, and a current participant in the FLT. "That translates into the work we're doing and will ultimately help build a more global network of ambassadors."
“It’s not just learning,” adds Ankone. “It’s active learning – becoming experts and applying our knowledge in order to help businesses learn to adapt and scale more sustainable solutions.”