Episode #12: Andy Wales – Making change that sticks

27 November 2018

Andy Wales

In this episode, I talk to Andy Wales, the Chief Digital Impact & Sustainability Officer for BT, and formerly the Corporate Affairs Director for SABMiller Europe.

Andy is a smart and skilful change-maker with a great track record in some of the most dynamic corporate sustainability programmes we’ve seen in the last two decades.

In this interview we talk about how his upbringing and family background set him almost immediately on the search for effective social impact, how he went on to learn how to make a real difference in a number of important companies in recent years, and what he’s learned along the way about how to make change that sticks.

Andy is a thoughtful and articulate advocate. We get into some detail about the issues he’s tackled and how others can go about making an impact in their own situation.

Show notes

What did the world look like to the young Andy Wales? (1:38)

At what point did Andy see that making an impact could be part of his day job? (4:02)

When Andy joined Interface, early as it was on its sustainability journey, what did he find there and what were the priorities? (5:58)

What happened with Interface’s two ahead-of-their-time experiments – the one that worked and the one that didn’t? (8:16)

What Andy worked on that took him to Severn Trent, and what was learned that led to the company being split up (10:37)

One of the general challenges for the water industry around sustainability (12:31)

What were some of the highlight issues from Andy’s time at SABmiller, and what was its distinctive culture that made such a big difference to how it worked? (13:52)

When companies talk about how much water it takes to make a product, is it really as clear-cut as that sounds? (16:13)

What special issues apply to companies like alcohol companies, where they want to sell lots of product, but not too much so that it becomes a social problem? (18:20)

What sort of interventions can an alcohol company make to tackle problem drinking whilst remaining successful? (21:14)

What has Andy learned over his career about how a change-maker can work with a large company to drive sustainability?  (22:49)

When leadership and ownership of businesses change so often, what can corporate responsibility teams do to ensure commitment to sustainability survives the change? (24:37)

What are the three areas Andy’s now focusing on at BT? (26:25)

How is successful, lasting impact achieved? (29:29)

Where are the areas where we need to do better to achieve sustainability? (31:35)

Does Andy have a personal purpose, and what is it? (33:30)

If there was one practical change Andy could bring about before hanging up his gloves, what would it be? (33:52)

What advice would Andy give to his younger self? (34:35)

Who’s an impressive change maker that Andy has been inspired by? (36:11)

What mistake has Andy made that led to some personal growth or learning? (37:14)

What one habit would Andy like to change? (38:04)

What book or books has made an impact on Andy’s thinking or his life? (38:30)

What advice would Andy give to young would-be change-makers just setting out? (39:15)


Andy Wales on twitter - https://twitter.com/andycwales

BT - https://www.btplc.com/Purposefulbusiness/