Inspirational Woman: Jo Hand | Co-Founder, Giki

Jo Hand

I started my career as a journalist. As a young person I felt really uncomfortable about multiple injustices in the world and I wanted to expose them.

I was fortunate to work with some amazing colleagues at the Independent newspaper, the BBC, Panorama and Channel 4 news. It was during my career as a journalist that I became aware of climate change and the problems it was already starting to cause. I then started working at CDP, the climate change charity, where I was the first woman on the leadership team. After taking a few years off to have children, I set up Giki with my husband James. We wanted to help people take action in their own lives on climate change. Nearly three quarters of greenhouse gas emissions come from people and households, so there is a huge amount individuals can do. We can’t protect the world from climate breakdown without changing the way we do things!

What does Giki do?

Giki stands for Get Informed, Know Your Impact. Our online tool, Giki Zero, helps people understand, track, and reduce their carbon footprints. It’s all about helping you choose individual actions to make your lifestyle more sustainable

We also provide an employee sustainability programme that makes climate change and environmental issues real for people by looking at it in their own lives. We work with everyone from small parishes, through to global companies.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No. I have been hugely fortunate to have an incredibly stimulating and varied career, which has taken me to incredible places, where I have met fascinating people and worked with real visionaries. I was always driven by a sense of where can I make a positive difference, and this has generally guided my career choices from the start. Sometimes I found I couldn’t have the impact I’d wanted to have, and that was what often led me to try something new.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Creating a start up is always going to be tough. It feels like pushing a rock up a hill, and if you stop pushing, it might just roll back down again! For me it’s the juggle that women across the world struggle with, of spending time with my kids, and achieving our aims at Giki.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

That’s a tough one. It depends so much on life stages. When I got my first job at the Independent newspaper in Paris, I was over the moon, and likewise when I was appointed a researcher when I first started at Panorama, I just couldn’t believe my luck. I think though, creating a social enterprise to help people change the way they live, to enjoy life in a sustainable way for the planet is really exciting. We also work with a huge range of small and large organisations from local community groups, through to universities and large companies, helping their people learn more about our personal impact on the environment, and how we can all change the way we live for the good of the planet on which we all rely.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Having a clear goal, even if you don’t know how you’ll get there.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Mentors have played a really crucial role in my life. I have been lucky to have three remarkable mentors in my life at different stages. Lyn Ridley (nurse) helped keep me on track as a somewhat reckless teenager. Melvyn Marckus (ex Times City Editor) helped me navigate the complex world of the media and showed me what it was to be a great journalist, and Paul Dickinson (founder of CDP) inspired me to want to spend the rest of my working life on climate change.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

I always feel hugely fortunate as a woman to be born in the UK. Here we have some of the higher gender equality standards, though of course there’s still more to be done. I think we need to influence society globally to listen to women as equals. Women are and will continue to play a crucial role in reversing the environmental crisis the world faces. As mothers, women have an inherent interest in preserving the future, and female views and voices should be counted as equal.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Always exercise good judgement!

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

There are about 1 billion people in the world who generate a major part of global carbon emissions. If we can help them make changes that enable them to live with a low carbon footprint, this would get us a long way to achieving the global carbon reductions we need to see. This will be our core focus for the next 5-10 years. We run programmes for all organizations from global companies to SMEs and community groups, so we can help people make changes together, within their own groups and networks.

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