Inspirational Woman: Nancy Hobhouse | Head of ESG, Evri

Nancy Hobhouse - Black and White

Nancy Hobhouse is Head of ESG at Evri, the UK’s biggest dedicated parcel delivery company, delivering more than 700 million parcels on behalf of Europe’s top retailers.

Evri has a mission to be the most convenient way to send, receive and return parcels, without costing the earth. She’s responsible for spearheading several key initiatives and developing an ambitious and robust ESG strategy. Her remit covers every aspect of the business from product development and innovation to operational changes around key touchpoints, such as alternative fuel usage, industry knowledge sharing and people-centric initiatives.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’ve been working in the sustainability sector for almost 20 years. I ended up in the profession by a happy accident, I wasn’t as successful in my A-levels as I’d hoped and ended up taking a course through clearing, which wasn’t originally my first choice. I’d always set out to eventually move back to biochemistry, but I ended up falling in love with Climate Sciences. Since then, I have always worked in sustainability, working for NGOs, as well as in banking, retail and now in logistics.

I currently work for Evri (the new Hermes) leading the ESG department. I am responsible for developing and implementing our ambitious ESG strategy, with my remit covering everything from product development and innovation to operational changes, such as alternative fuel usage, industry knowledge sharing and people-centric initiatives.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

When I first started in the corporate world, I would set myself two and five-year goals.

However quickly I learned that I would outgrow them before I got to achieve them or that the goals could not adapt to who I became.

 

Therefore, ended up finding them limiting.

I found setting myself a series of rules to my career and progression worked better for me. Still to this day I follow this approach, and my current rules are:

1) Always leave a role when you are not learning anything or adding any value.

2) Only accept a role and stay in a role if the people you will be working with inspire you (whether that is with their work or due to their passions outside).

3) Never decrease your scope of work with any new opportunity.

4) Never expect (but always appreciate) massive pay rises in your current organisation but only leave to go to a new company for more than a double-digit percentage increase.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I am exceptionally lucky that I am a very privileged person. I acknowledge this and I am in complete admiration of the incredible people that have fought harder than myself to get to where they want to be.

For me, the two great challenges that I have overcome have to be being an outspoken women and being cripplingly dyslexic. There are times in the past where I have been belittled and misrepresented because of these qualities. However, over time I have come to realise that these two challenges have become my superpowers. For example, my dyslexia allows me to mind map exceptionally complicated 3D models of systems and strategies, something which I only learned 10 years into my career wasn’t a common skill. Its things like this, that highlight the beauty of having a diverse work force, as different people bring different skills.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I’m in no doubt that my biggest achievement to date would have to be watching the people who have worked for me in the past become incredibly powerful and impressive people. That said, I cannot take all of the credit for this, as each individual has worked so hard to get to where they are, however, I hope I have helped in one way or another.

I am also proud of the sustainability strategies I have started with both JLP and Evri, which have made the planet, and the people living on it’s lives better.

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

I would be kidding myself if I didn’t admit there is a fair amount of luck involved along the way. Of-course hard work has a lot to do with success, but there are a lot of people that work extremely hard every day, just to get by. Timing is a game changer and I have been very lucky to be in the right place at the right time throughout my career so far. I also wholeheartedly believe in what I am doing in corporate sustainability and having not a single doubt that what I’m selling is right for everyone involved makes selling a strategy or a capital plan easier.

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

Mentoring is an incredibly power tool, if you find the right mentor. I do believe that mentoring doesn’t have to be as formal as we are led to believe. I have had both informal and formal mentors and mentees in my life that have changed my career and the way I work for the better.

When considering a mentor, find a person that empowers and inspires you, whether that is someone ahead of you in your career or a peer. If someone asks you to mentor, always accepted if your circumstances allow, often you will get just as much out of it as they will. Forming advice will often help you collect your own thoughts and make you a more measured employee or boss.

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

I absolutely love the shared parental leave model that Sweden have. Parents in Sweden are entitled to 480 days of paid parental leave when a child is born or adopted. Each parent – should there be two – is entitled to 240 of those days, and solo parents are entitled to a full 480 days.

I feel like this would be a game changer for gender equality as it removes financial ties to gender that one parent is the caregiver and one is the bread winner.

 

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

Care less about what other people think of you and realise that actually no one truly knows what they’re talking about!

I would also like to give my younger self a hug and tell her she is doing just fine.

 

You recently started in your role at Evri, what are you hoping to achieve for the company over the coming months?

I am very proud of the organisation I work for. Over the last year we have set ourselves some very ambitious and industry leading target in ESG. However, being the company we are, targets are not enough, and we measure ourselves by the actions we take. We have already made big leaps in how are operating, since setting our net zero by 2035 target, we have changed our entire operation to renewable energy, increased our low carbon fleet to be 40% of our tractor fleet and 30% of our parcelshop fleet. We also now offer pension and parental leave to our self-employed couriers, the first parcel company to do so.

That said, there is so much more to do. In the next few months, we will be publishing our first ESG report, with transparency in our numbers, including our full carbon footprint, along with ethnicity and gender pay gaps. We will also be confirming personalised ESG objective for all our senior leaders and launching mandatory ESG training to all staff.

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