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WHAT WE LEARNT ABOUT RUNNING A CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMME

By The Bay hosted its second Business Leaders Series in September 2022, which focused on the hot topic of sustainability. Guest speakers were notable experts in the sustainability sector, namely Prescott Gaylord, Head of Sustainability — Corporate Real Estate Strategy & Administration, DBS, and Rajen Makhijani, Associate Client Partner, ESG and Organizational Strategy & Leadership, Korn Ferry.

Raffles Quay Asset Management (RQAM) is the Asset Manager of One Raffles Quay, Marina Bay Financial Centre and Marina Bay Link Mall, which forms the brand portfolio known as By The Bay.

In his welcome address, Ben Robinson, RQAM’s CEO acknowledged how ESG is increasingly an integral part of business strategy for businesses and a journey that most, if not all of us are on at the moment.

He added that a key component of RQAM's platform is BayGreen, BayGive, BayLearn, and BayWatch, which support the portfolio and corporate community in their ESG journeys, as well as helping them better understand how staff and the broader community interact with their space, and the portfolio they occupy, respectively.

We sum up some of the best takeaways from each speaker below.

Mr Prescott Gaylord


Mr Prescott Gaylord

Head of Sustainability, Corporate Real Estate Strategy and Administration, DBS

Prescott's work in sustainable construction, sustainable design, and corporate environmental transition has led him to his current drive to increase impact of green corporate policies. He has spoken on sustainability in the built environment at conferences in Washington DC, Chicago, Baltimore, Monaco, and Singapore.

  1. Many sustainability programmes are observed to be treated in these categories from start to end, which may not be as impactful.

    - Set targets to reduce x% per year to get to some portion. Measurement is not the same as sustainability.

    - Run sustainability programmes through a marketing department, which only highlights things that resonate with people. This method poses to be a risk as it can be perceived to be “greenwashing”, given that the public is becoming increasingly savvy.

    - “Awareness programme” being the main focus.
  2. Impactful sustainability programme is more of a digital transformation than anything else. Companies such as Orsted, Neste, Schneider Electric, Eco Lab and Microsoft have been through successful transformation programmes, mostly through sustainability.
  3. You don’t need to put your company out as a sustainable leader, you simply need to have an impact.
  4. The decision needs to come from the C-suites who need to realise it is going to be a transformation.
  5. Do it at the level of mission and vision, and change it if it’s not aligned with the decision. Aligning principles of sustainability with your business expertise.
  6. Appoint or hire a Head of Sustainability or CSO and give the incumbent the decision-making power.


Mr Rajen Makhijani


Mr Rajen Makhijani

Associate Client Partner, ESG and Organisational Strategy & Leadership, Korn Ferry Consulting

Rajen brings a 360-stakeholder view and ecosystem approach in serving clients on their ESG, Sustainability and Purpose agenda. He has diverse experience advising leaders in business, society, politics, bureaucracy, UN, private equity, foundations, family businesses and academia. Having served MNCs and local clients across two dozen countries in Asia and Africa, he also serves as the voice of emerging markets, on matters of sustainability and ESG.

  1. Both individuals and companies do not need to be leading the way. There are different approaches and strategies, which would be appropriate for a given company or individual in a given market, with a given context.
  2. Sustainability is a huge transformation so it is a leadership decision. It will be a challenge if it’s driven by somebody with a lot of heart and passion but without a clear business case.
  3. A successful CSO is not an activist. It should be somebody who is affirmative, but without trying to make others wrong.
  4. Sustainability has similarities to wicked problem. The effort to solve one problem creates another but it should not stop you from taking action as there is no right sequence.

If you would like to collaborate with RQAM on Business Leaders Series as part of your organisation’s initiatives or nominate leaders in your organisation to join our upcoming sessions, write to us at management@rqam.com.sg.

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