Building a greater future through innovation and collective knowledge
The ‘Future Leaders Forum’ started with an excellent panel discussion on Building on Belief: Building a greater future through innovation and collective knowledge. The participants were Lucy Payne, Joint Acting Chief Executive Officer, Food Ladder, Professor Mark Scott, Vice Chancellor, Sydney University and Patrick McCall, Head of IT, Service Management, Services, Operations and Infrastructure, Woolworths Group. The session was moderated by Abhinav Kumar, the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, TCS.
While every organisation is born out of belief, we must build on ambitions and optimism to transform for the better. When we combine our knowhow and innovation mindset, we rapidly multiply what we can do with technology and create the solutions we need to build a greater future.
One of those solutions is Food Ladder, an Australian not-for-profit organisation using hydroponic technology and climate-controlled greenhouses. It provides remote and regional schools and communities with small-scale food-growing systems and specialised education resources so that they can grow their produce.
Food Ladder’s Lucy Payne spoke about how sustainability needs to sit at the core of every business decision. Australia is not immune to the food security problem, with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities unable to access nutritious foods due to the availability and affordability of produce.
Innovations like Food Ladder help build a more sustainable future, focusing on preventative health and getting kids excited and educated about healthy food choices.
For the Woolworths Group, one of the fundamental values is being a purpose-led organisation, empowering people to do the right thing. If an organisation has a simple purpose, it makes it easier to align and bring people on the sustainability journey. This enables a collective way of thinking, finding solutions and building a sustainable culture. For example, while technology helps reduce an organisation’s footprint, it also increases levels of e-waste, which involves mining critical metals that go into this technology. We need to empower our people to collaborate and tackle these problems without barriers but with a structure.
A great example of combining knowhow and an innovation mindset is the University of Sydney’s approach to contributing to the solutions to significant global challenges. We are facing a once-in-a-century pandemic, regional tensions, a war in Europe, inflation and climate challenges – never have leaders dealt with such an array of issues. Academia is developing the next generation; a generation focused on leadership for good.
Professor Scott believes The University of Sydney’s role is to bring the right team together to solve these challenges. And these teams are cross-disciplinary -- we need to look beyond STEM to solve these great challenges and create societal change.
Leaders and future leaders need to be conscious that they are role models – people look up to them. This means that leaders need to be authentic and operate with integrity and have a clear mindset and vision for what sustainable practices in businesses look like.
Corporates and leaders successfully pursuing sustainability need to balance economic, social and environmental impacts over the long term to attract and retain talent – while contributing to the greater good.
Digital Sustainability: Delivering a competitive leadership advantage
The second panel discussion of the day featured Gerald Mackenzie, General Manager, Innovation & Sustainability, Fletcher Building; Grace Kerrison, Head of Sales Solutions – Asia Pacific, LinkedIn; Michelle Lemmens, Head of Business Sustainability & CTO TCS APAC; and Patrick Mooney, Chairman and Co-Founder, Impact Tech Ventures.
Digital sustainability can deliver a significant competitive advantage — this is a core belief held by organisations leading the conversation on inclusive growth. The panellists agreed that adding sustainability to digital transformation can help us reimagine outcomes, revitalise our planet, create transformational ecosystems, and address inequality. It can help us journey to a more sustainable and resilient future.
When sustainability is at the heart of the digital core, it has a multiplier effect on the impact achieved. With sustainability being the most significant challenge the world faces today, how can businesses ensure they continue to innovate with sustainability on the top of their mind?
How do digital and sustainability go together? And where are organisations at in their digital and sustainability journeys? These are some of the questions that cropped up.
Grace talked about how every company has become a tech company in the last two and a half years, and now we are in a hybrid mode. Companies and governments worldwide use data and insights to keep track of progress from a sustainability perspective.
“Digital natives will be 75 per cent of Australia’s workforce by 2025. And for that generation, the use of data and insights come hand in hand.”
This generation has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to consider digital sustainability as part of their skill set.
The number of green entrepreneurs is growing faster than the average entrepreneur. And Australia is leading that. In turn, people considered “green talent” is only increasing by 6%, which means that demand won’t meet the supply in a few years.
Governments and organisations must collaborate to green mainstream roles to bridge current skills gaps.
According to Patrick, investment money is shifting to companies that make an impact, and young talent will prefer a company with a sustainable agenda.
The opportunity for the digital sector is to work directly with hardware sectors to support the transition of high emitters. It’s particularly relevant in industries such as mining, construction, and agriculture, where we see many tech companies providing. solutions to monitor, report and reduce carbon emissions.
But digital sustainability isn’t just a focus for big business Michelle says there is an opportunity to support the digitalisation of small businesses. With 99 per cent of companies considered small to medium, they are an emerging cohort of real economic players in the economies in which they operate.
Small enterprises play a crucial role in the sustainability journey. They are entrepreneurs, business leaders and consumers – but they need guidance around where to start regarding digitalisation and sustainability.
Big business has the opportunity to create an ecosystem where innovators can come in and participate.
Gerald explained that Fletcher Building heavily focuses on bringing innovation and sustainability together to move to a more circular economy. Digital plays a vital role in this, helping understand what is most material for the organisation.
“It allows us to measure and optimise our operations, supply chain and manufacturing. It empowers consumers to make better choices on building materials they use and how they use their homes.”
The panel also shared some practical advice for business leaders regarding sustainability.
Some of the key points are:
- Turn ESG from driven by few to done by many, empower your people to be part of the solutions
- Connect the people across a sustainable value chain, and give them the tools to build their sustainability agenda
- Talk to your stakeholders, customers, staff, and partners – where do they see the industry going and involve them in designing the future
- The demand for green talent will grow, so make sure to upskill or provide upskilling opportunities to your people
Future-focused leaders will consider sustainability more than compliance or risk-based exercise. Instead, they fuse sustainability with their digital and business strategy to create a future-fit business.
The afternoon marked the official start of the TCS APAC Summit with the keynote address by TCS CEO and Managing Director Rajesh Gopinathan. He set the scene for the summit by unpacking what “Innovating for a Sustainable Future” means for businesses across the region within the current context of global uncertainty and changing consumer behaviour. The keynote uncovered how the core pillars of sustainability, technology, and purpose work together to build future-ready enterprises equipped to unlock the next chapter of growth and build resilience.
CEO panel discussion: Operating Models and Ecosystems for the Future
The future of sustainable business operations was the focus of the panel discussion led by Jeffery Goh, CEO of Star Alliance, Lisa Singh, CEO of Australian Indian Youth Dialogue, and Professor Paul Simshauser, CEO of Power Link. The session delved into the potential for APAC businesses to become strong growth-driver for sustainable operations in the coming years. The discussion was moderated by Krishnan Ramanujam, Business Group President, Enterprise Growth at TCS.
The Asia Pacific region remains poised for growth even as the recovery has been uneven. Governments and companies are pushing ahead with their digitalisation agenda as demand for technology services remains strong. This is despite the triple dark clouds of rising inflation, the structural slowdown in China and the spillover effects from the war in Ukraine.
The discussion explored what organisations can do to stay ahead of the curve and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the digital revolution. The panellists noted that technology has increasingly become the mainstay – not just a consideration – post-pandemic for companies across sizes and industries.
Jeffery Goh of Star Alliance spoke of the airline industry’s supply-demand challenges and how this has uncovered an opportunity for technology to deliver convenience to the customer experience.
Similarly, Professor Paul Simshauser of Power Link spoke of the potential for Australia and New Zealand to share their industry-leading solutions with the global energy industry.
Lisa Singh of Australian Indian Youth Dialogue talked about the value of diplomacy between Australia and India on leveraging strong business footprints across the region to meet net-zero targets. She also highlighted how business as a sector is ahead of the curve in implementing sustainability. She spoke of the opportunity to engage the next generation of leaders in STEM to drive this transition.
Key insights that emerged from the discussion:
- Tap into your company’s strengths to accelerate your journey to net-zero.
- Innovation and digital, along with collaboration across ecosystems, hold the key to learning, pivoting and scaling for accelerating impactful outcomes.
- There is an urgent need for leaders to harness Digital Sustainability across businesses and use purpose and technology to push the boundaries and create new paradigms – for our people and planet.
Fireside chat: How Sport can Lead Change for a Sustainable World
We closed the afternoon's discussions with an insightful conversation exploring the future of sustainability in sport, led by Mitch Evan, Jaguar TCS Racing Driver, and James Barclay, Jaguar TCS Racing Team Principal and Managing Director of Jaguar Land Rover Motorsport.
The churning in the automotive industry was the focus of this chat. The speakers discussed topics ranging from the rapid introduction of electric propulsion to data-driven optimisation and how Formula E racing is bringing the future of clean mobility to the public through its unique approach to racing.
During this multi-year partnership, TCS and Jaguar will create a dynamic platform to drive research and innovation while steering towards advanced concepts and electric vehicle (EV) technologies. TCS is leveraging its leadership position in technology transformation and its experience of working with premier players in the EV value chain to help Jaguar TCS push low carbon emissions and sustainable mobility. The partnership will see creative uses of data and insights from the racetracks shape the wider growth, development, and transformation of the EV ecosystem.
As pioneers in Formula E racing, in this discussion, Mitch Evan and James Barclay spoke of the role of electric motorsports in driving technology, safety and sustainability innovation for consumer vehicles. The conversation also tapped into the role of data in Formula E to provide an ever-evolving feedback loop between simulation and real-time racing designed to optimise execution. It explored how this "fail-fast" mentality can be adopted by business leaders to help them learn from previous experiences and better navigate future challenges.
The partnership between Jaguar Land Rover and TCS is the coming together of two purpose-driven brands to create a sustainable future, leveraging innovation and collective knowledge. It is rooted in a shared belief that technological innovation can architect a better world. Innovation and building new technologies will accelerate the adoption of connected, autonomous, electric transportation, driving sustainability and creating better futures for people everywhere. "We are excited about the possibilities this partnership will herald for our joint ecosystem," the panellists agreed.