Green.org sat down with Valentina Lorenzon, founder of Strategic Management Solutions, to learn how they help companies prioritize profit and sustainability at the same time.
Who is Valentina?
Valentina is an international strategy consultant and business advisor, mainly focusing on family businesses and SMEs. For the last 15 years Valentina has been working both within her own family business based in Italy and with clients in Europe and the Americas specialising in leadership and business management. She has extensive, first-hand experience in all aspects related to intercultural and intergenerational leadership with specific expertise in internationalisation processes, multigenerational planning and next-gen engagement. Valentina also works as a business coach, supporting professionals in starting and developing their own business, building an international career or preparing for a career change.
Being a third-generation family business member herself, Valentina is a strong advocate of the importance for individuals and organisations to build a legacy based not only on profitability but also on long-term sustainability. She is also passionate about promoting excellence in entrepreneurship and leadership as a way to help companies identify much-needed solutions to the major sustainability issues with which they are currently being confronted. In order to deepen her understanding of the topic, Valentina has recently completed a course on the Skills for the Green Transition, organised by the University of Cambridge, Judge Business School. This strengthened her resolution to help her family business as well as her clients develop the mindset and strategic approach to make a positive contribution to the green transition.
Why do you think sustainability is such an important topic today?
Even though the sustainability conversation is increasingly part of our daily discussions, I don’t think there is enough awareness yet about the consequences of ignoring the issues related to it. And very often other business priorities take priority so no significant decisions are made to truly change our mindset and approach to the problem. What makes it an essential topic today is that it permeates all aspects of our lives and we are reaching a point of no return where many of our choices will produce irreversible changes to the way we live. Even though we might only see limited effects of this, today’s decisions represent the future that our children will have to deal with. We have the tools and knowledge necessary to address – or at least mitigate – these issues, so we just need to shift away from traditional ways of working and look for innovative approaches to stop focusing on the problem and start improving the situation instead.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
It is very difficult to make predictions on how things will change in my – or any other sector – and 10 years are a very long period of time, especially in a VUCA context, like the one we are currently living in. However, what I really hope – and a few organisations have already started to do it – is that there will be a paradigm shift and a leadership revolution towards business models that acknowledge the incumbent risks and work towards creating solutions. Critical issues like the sustainability one present many challenges but also multiple opportunities for companies to become agents of change and shape the future of their industry while contributing to the well-being of the surrounding society. But, of course, all of this has to start now, even if only through incremental steps, each organisation needs to take ownership of its responsibilities. Setting objectives and planning for the future is not enough anymore, decisive action is needed.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Each one of us can do a great deal with our actions and our words to encourage change, both as professionals and individuals. The first thing that usually comes to mind relates to our behaviours when it comes to purchasing products, travelling and any other activity that can impact our personal carbon footprint. But that is only part of what we can do. Through our actions and the way in which we share our ideas, we can also encourage and inspire others to do the same. We can all be leaders of change – true leadership has little to do with seniority, formal power and job titles, it is related to how we use our personal experience and knowledge to make things better. And this is possible now more than ever because, we can access the information and the channels we need to share our opinion and make our words heard. As a member of a family business, I learnt very early on that what we do is bigger than us and we are only custodians for the ones who will follow us. And our legacy should be to leave our business and, more widely, our society a better place than the one we found.