One key lesson I learned from years of international collaboration is that the ability to partner with others is a sign of organisational strength. Partnering with the right people and organisations can be an effective way of combining the most relevant expertise, multiple perspectives, global-local experience and pooling of resources in a flexible network approach.
At the heart of my consulting work is organisations from South Africa, Australia, France, Switzerland and the UK, led by trusted friends with highly talented teams that have made their mark in various ways in the last decade. They include the Centre for Corporate Governance in Africa, Incite Sustainability, Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (now with Deloitte Australia), Utopies, BSD Consulting, Brugger & Partners and De Pury Pictet Turrettini Asset Management as well as the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC). These are immediate partners available for larger scale project work, in addition to other business and research contacts that I have in organisations world-wide.
As a student many years ago my early taste of the job market was in journalism, working at the newspaper Vrye Weekblad in Johannesburg under the inspirational leadership of Max du Preez. I among others got to know about networking in the media industry and tacit collaboration between like-minded and even competing publications. My early thinking in those days was heavily influenced by philosophers such as Johan Degenaar, a brilliant educator who introduced many of us to the Socratic method and critical thinking. This cemented deep respect for visionaries such as former president Nelson Mandela and archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Working in the domain of business and UN collaboration in the 2000s, my thinking was further inspired by thought leaders and leadership activists in the sustainability field that I've been privileged to work for and with. These include people such as Klaus Toepfer, Achim Steiner, Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel, Ashok Khosla, John Elkington, Robert Ayres, Allen White, Georg Kell, John Ruggie, Mark Moody-Stuart, Mervyn King, Claude Fussler and Pavan Sukdev.
Today I can see how an older generation of Club of Rome-type visionaries appear disillusioned about the slow pace at which humanity appears to be responding to sustainable development challenges globally. We owe it to them and younger, future generations to gear up and deeply transform the way we manage our businesses and economies.