In this episode of OTMO, our guest is Craig Bennett – CEO of The Wildlife Trusts, an organisation made up of 46 local Wildlife Trusts in the UK, the Isle of Man and Alderney. The Wildlife Trusts look after more than 2,300 nature reserves, covering around 98,500 hectares. He also continues to be a Policy Fellow at Cambridge and Honorary Professor of Sustainability & Innovation at Alliance Manchester Business School.
Craig has spent his whole career working on environmental challenges. He started at Friends of the Earth as Campaigner back in 1999 from the Environmental Investigation Agency. Moving to take on the role of Deputy Director at the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainable Leadership in 1997, he returned to Friends of the Earth as Director of Policy & Campaigns (where he worked with host Joe Jenkins for 5 years) before taking on the role of Chief Executive.
Craig shares his leadership lessons in this episode, from joining a new organisation as CEO in the midst of a national lockdown and global pandemic (including how some of the travel restrictions have proven a leveller in a national organisation), to the challenges of The Wildlife Trusts shift in strategy – from not only protecting existing wildlife, to bringing wildlife back.
He talks about the ability and opportunity of federated charities to be bold, the difference between leadership and management, lessons from Henry V & the importance of self-awareness.
We get tips on how the answer you give to someone who asks ‘What can I do?’ very much depends on who they are and their situation; using Twitter as a mini focus group; and re-booting your perspective of an organisation that you’ve been part of a long time.
Other topics include finding the sardine when you’re trying to herd cats, the leadership of Greta Thunberg, when to say ‘I don’t know’, bees (of course!) and climate fatigue.
Looking to the future, Craig is excited by the number of people and organisations engaged in climate awareness compared to 25 years ago, and even though it feels like there have been steps backwards, the attention the issues now are getting, is in itself a move forward. And although the requisite action still seems a way off, some amazing development could take place sooner than we think.
Date of Conversation – 20th November 2020
The Key Takeaways From This Episode[02.13] Interview Begins
[04.14] April Fool! Starting your first year in an organisation at the beginning of a pandemic
[15.50] Resetting environmental strategy: from protecting what’s left to bringing it back
[22.57] NASA and the clarity of purpose
[33.05] Renegade Leadership
[41.07] Taking a sabbatical during the FOE CEO recruitment process
[55.35] Learning from LinkedIn
[60.48] When dastardly actions create positive actions
Resources From This Episode
- Wildlife Trust – wildlifetrusts.org
- Friends of the Earth – foe.org
- Greta Thunberg – Greta Thunberg on Wikipedia
- Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change – corporateleadersgroup.com
- Save the Bees – friendsoftheearth.uk/bees
- Cambridge Policy Fellow – Policy fellowships details
- The University of Manchester’s Alliance Manchester Business School