Episode #21: Jennie Galbraith – A force for change in the world of tobacco
12 February 2019
In this episode, I talk to Jennie Galbraith who is the group head of sustainability for British American Tobacco.
Jennie is also Vice Chair and one of the founding forces behind the Institute for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, the recently formed professional body.
In this interview we talk about how she got to where she is, and what she’s learned along the way. As you can imagine, we also talk about the social responsibility implications of working at a tobacco company, which brings unique and important issues that many others would happily leave alone, and some of the changes that have happened over the last decade.
Jennie is a practical, and determined change maker who hasn’t shirked from tackling some of the most difficult challenges a company can face. I think you’ll get a lot out of this interview.
How did the world look to the young Jennie when she left school and looked ahead to adult life? (1:34)
How a chance conversation led to a change in direction that set Jennie onto the new path that eventually shaped her life (4:05)
How Sustainability North West steered Jennie into a corporate sustainability career (7:00)
Jennie’s first experience in corporate social responsibility at ethical trailblazer Co-operative Insurance Services (8:22)
How did the work change as the Co-operative became the larger Co-operative Group, with the bank and the retail arm? (10:02)
How did the company’s position as leader of an ethical niche affect the sort of work that Jennie did? (12:25)
The impact on friends and colleagues when Jennie decided to move from ethical co-op to a major tobacco corporation (14:30)
What did Jennie find at BAT when she joined, and what sort of issues were on her plate for early attention? (16:02)
How you should deal with stakeholders who are completely distrustful and suspicious of the company (20:30)
So how does Jennie respond to people who challenge her over products that kill people? (22:10)
Are the vaping products of today the answer in the quest for significantly reduced harm products? (24:40)
Other areas of focus on corporate behaviour and agricultural supply chains worldwide -particularly on human rights (26:33)
How progress has been made on supporting farmer livelihoods, as well as other areas such as marketing (30:08)
Why Jennie took a role as one of the leading instigators of the Institute for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (ICRS) (34:27)
How does Jennie think the profession will continue to evolve over the coming decades? (37:40)
Jennie’ personal purpose (39:59)
What one practical change would Jennie want to bring about before hanging up her gloves? (41:25)
What advice would she give to the younger Jennie? (41:50)
An impressive change maker that Jennie has been inspired by (42:06)
A mistake Jennie has made that led to some better outcome or personal growth (43:20)
A habit that Jennie would like to change (44:44)
Two books that influenced Jennie’s thinking and life (45:17)
Advice to young people that are starting on their own journeys (46:03)
Note: All interviewees for the Mallen Baker Podcast speak in a personal capacity, and are not representing the official view of their organisation.