Climate change is complicated. But that’s not stopping people around the world from making a difference. We’re lucky to have some brilliant people leading our climate work across the firm. In this series, we help you get to know them, their areas of expertise and why they’re passionate about sustainability.
Today we chat to Laila Takeh from our Strategy and Innovation practice, who tells us how her role leading our net zero transformation team means she can put her long-held passion for sustainability to good use.
A singular perspective
When we ask for her earliest recollection of climate concerns, Laila casts her mind back to her childhood.
“Growing up in an Iranian-English household led me to think about the wider world and the differences we could make for the good of people and planet from an early age,” she says. “After university I was clear I wanted to go into a career where I could contribute to social value. I ended up working in charities and social enterprises for over a decade — one of them was UNICEF. I was there when the Sustainable Development Goals were being formed, and that sparked a deep interest in all things sustainable development. Climate being a key part of this.”
Her career journey also included working at a tech start-up focused on digitally enabling social impact organisations, before Laila joined Deloitte four-and-a-half years ago. Again, her reason for making the move was clear: “I wanted to amplify my impact further,” she says decisively, “by working with larger organisations on embedding social and sustainability into their strategy and operations.”
At the tipping point
Laila describes her current role as helping clients think about how they can create value from transitioning their strategy and operations to survive and thrive in a low carbon economy. Working across sectors gives her a particularly broad outlook:
“We’re seeing lots of public sector clients asking for help to ‘write their rules’ for a low carbon economy. Equally, people in the private sector are asking how they need to respond to it, and where to prioritise given the scale and complexity of the shift.”
Appositely, her current role coincided with the UK becoming the first country in the world to enshrine in law the pursuit of net zero by 2050. “That was in June 2019. It was a landmark event and a real tipping point for climate and where it sits on leadership agendas.” She takes stock for a moment; “I’ve always believed that purpose and social value are central to creating commercial benefits for organisations, as well as it being the right thing to do. We’re seeing more and more evidence of this.”
“I’ve always believed that purpose and social value are central to creating commercial benefits for organisations, as well as it being the right thing to do.”
When asked for a career highlight, Laila cites her role as a facilitator for UNLEASH, a global non-profit entity that brings together young people to generate and test innovative ideas to solve for the sustainability goals. It’s clearly a movement close to her heart.
“I’ve been involved with UNLEASH for the last four years, and it’s always really inspiring. The innovation programmes and events are there to help activists and professionals connect and become the engine room of change for tomorrow.”
But right now, she finds it’s the simple things in life that inspire her most. “I like to get away from the screen when I’m not working. Recently I’ve been really interested in the trend of growing your own veg at home. I joined a Facebook group for veg and allotment growers. Swapping stories about what to do with this or that seedling is very exciting! That’s my latest point of inspiration — and generally just being thriftier and making the most of the things we have.”
The power of public and private
For someone as committed to climate issues as she is, Laila is optimistic about the future. Collaboration, she believes, is key.
“What made me want to join Deloitte was the connectivity of public and private sector to create shared value. It’s really powerful, and we can increasingly make it happen — so that there’s an upside for both society and the commercial goals of business.”
Above all, she sees a growing willingness from businesses to change in ways that can ultimately benefit us all: “The future I see is one where there ceases to be a social value strategy versus a revenue-generating strategy. It’s one and the same thing. The essence of B Corps — business entities that assess themselves against social-value orientated criteria — will become a norm, as companies increasingly care about their triple bottom line (people, planet and profit).”
“The future I see is one where there ceases to be a social value strategy versus a revenue-generating strategy.”
We hope you enjoyed finding out a bit more about Laila. Our climate team are here to help, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to find out more. And if you want to meet the others, just keep reading below. We’ll introduce you to new people every month.
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