Episode #33: Becky Willan – Challenging brands to embrace a positive purpose

14 May 2019

Becky Willan

In this episode, I talk to Becky Willan, managing director and co-founder of Given London, the brand agency with a focus on purpose and positive impact.

Becky was formerly an environmental manager with the Body Shop, and since then has become a widely experienced consultant with some of the top forward-thinking brands committed to doing well by doing good.

In this interview, we talk about how she got to where she is, and what she learned along the way. We talk about trends in sustainable business and how much businesses need to change to be fit for the net zero impact world we’re heading towards. Becky is an energetic and thoughtful leader in the space and I think you’ll get a huge amount from this interview, in spite of the rather noisy environment the conversation took place in, while Old Street was being rebuilt around us.

Show notes

What did the world look like to the young Becky Willan when she left school and looked ahead to adult life? (1:47)

What were the earliest influences that led Becky to become a change maker? (4:29)

Becky’s first sustainability job at the company that had inspired her at an early age (8:02)

How she decided to move on and go into consultancy (13:03)

The moment that prompted the initial drive to leave and form a new company (16:55)

What led to the name of the agency, Given London (17:38)

Becky’s take on how big a game changer is the corporate purpose movement (19:34)

How to bridge the historic gulf between the marketing and sustainability community and drive difficult changes within businesses (24:24)

Why short-termism is the enemy of purpose, and how can leaders resist the short-term pressures (26:37)

What has Becky learned about what works in running her own business? (28:50)

What are the trends Becky is seeing in the sustainability marketplace? (34:05)

How much are businesses influenced by the current high profile of discussions about an environmental endgame? (37:10)

Tackling cynicism around the role of brands in helping create a more sustainable world (40:18)

Ambitions for the future of Given London (42:12)

Becky’s personal purpose (43:46)

What’s one practical change Becky would like to change before hanging up her gloves (44:32)

Advice Becky would give to her younger self (45:15)

An impressive change maker Becky has been inspired by (46:19)

Mistakes Becky has made that led to a better outcome or personal growth (47:47)

A habit Becky would like to change (49:11)

A book that influenced Becky’s thinking (49:57)

Advice Becky would give to young would-be change makers starting out (51:24)

 

Links

Given London http://www.givenlondon.com

Given London on twitter https://twitter.com/givenlondon

 

Books

What works - design thinking to tackle gender inequality, Iris Bohnet

https://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Works-Gender-Equality-Design/dp/0674089030/