LENA STüDELI, Managing Director at Greenbuzz Zurich
What is your background in Social Impact/Sustainability if any?
I work full time for GreenBuzz Zurich. I am convinced by their mission and am excited by the power of individuals to make positive change happen.
I first immersed myself in the sustainability sphere during my Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics. I researched how language is used to communicate matters connected to climate change to the broad public. Ever since, I have known that this is what I want to do – to use my abilities as a ‘force for good’.
What do you do at your organization in terms of Social Impact/Sustainability, how do you monitor the outcomes and what are the goals?
I am the Managing Director of GreenBuzz Zurich, a non-profit organization with a network of and for sustainability professionals from across different sectors. We believe in two things: that, in order to achieve the SDGs, we need an overall collaborative approach, meaning that we need to talk to each other, learn from each other and join forces. Secondly, we believe that in order to solve the sometimes seemingly unsolvable problems of our wasteful and destructive systems, we need to get the big players on board.
At our events and workshops, we always strive for gender-balanced, diverse expert panels with representatives from different sectors (public sector, private sector, academia, NGOs etc.). With the help of our volunteer-topic leads, we stay up to date with the current trends and challenges in various industries and decide on the topics for our events.
By not specializing in one particular sector or industry, we enable connections and learnings between people who would not normally meet.
We have recently launched our impact measurement project, with which we want to measure our activities’ impact and analyze our network to ensure we meet their needs. Through engaging with our network’s members, we are hoping to find out which event formats, topics, and other activities are the most effective and lead to a positive change.
Do you believe in business as a force for good and do you have corporate partners? How do you work with them?
I wouldn’t personally go as far as saying that business in itself is a force for good, but I think that it can (and it should) be used as such.
At GreenBuzz, we engage with corporate partners. Our mission is to ‘make sustainability the new normal in business’. Therefore, corporate partners are valuable and important stakeholders to us. We work with them by, for example, helping them to increase employee engagement by enabling their employees to come to our events for free. We also organize joint events with our partners. These can be designed around solving a particular challenge with the help of the GreenBuzz community or around a trending sustainability-related topic.
Do you see a change in behavior in your donors and the ones you’re serving?
Like so many others, we are massively impacted by the current situation. More than anything, our priority now is to make sure that sustainability stays a priority. Looking at the wonderful and engaged people in our network, we are hopeful. But unfortunately, there will be many others who will prioritize our economic systems, that so clearly aren’t resilient and strong in the face of crisis. Still, we remain confident that, with the combined forces of everyone who tries to ‘do good’, we will succeed!
How do new technologies and this digital age influence your work? Do you use new technologies to spread the word about what you do?
In the last month in particular, we have been forced to digitalize many of our processes. Most of those changes have helped us make our work more efficient.
A pleasant surprise throughout the last months was running events online. Events are our core business, and so we had no other choice than to act quickly. In the first week of the lockdown, we decided to transition all of our events online for the time being. I was and still am surprised at how effective and interactive online events can be! Running virtual events is definitely a skill that we will take with us to ‘post-Covid’ times.
In your view, what’s the biggest challenge when it comes to marketing your cause to the world?
We, who work in the sustainability sphere, are aware and confronted with sustainability-news every day. Most of the times when I open my LinkedIn feed, for example, 100% of the posts are about sustainability-related news, issues, and successes. While this is helpful for and interesting to me personally, this can create the deceptive image that everyone is just as engaged and worried about the planet as we are, when we are actually moving in a ‘sustainability bubble’ niche. So, the biggest question to me is: how do we reach the people who are not part of that bubble?
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