Interview | 30 Oct 2023

Leadership Lessons with... Lucy Boreham, Director and Co-founder at BayNel

Posted in Business, Industry news, Interview, Client,

In this conversation with Lucy Boreham, Director and Co-founder at BayNel we explore their personal growth, industry insights, and how they navigate the ever-evolving landscape of ESG and Sustainability in 2023.

Take a look.

What were the key pivotal moments in your career that got you to where you are today and how did they lead you to founding BayNel?  

In my early career, I had a lot of opportunities I am really grateful for as they set me on a career path I hadn’t envisioned for myself. And despite often feeling out of my depth, I always tried to make the most of these opportunities and learn from successes and failures! I've worked for organisations of very different sizes from startups, privately owned and large public companies, all of which were very different experiences. There were elements of each that I liked and disliked, but we’ve tried to use those experiences and create a business that delivers value for our clients and us. 

I think as a generation (I’m 41) we've been taught that you get on the career ladder and that trajectory must be an upwards one, with every new job role being better and paying more - and if it isn’t then you’re a failure. I think, and hope that psyche is changing, and that success isn’t defined by a job title. It's time to embrace different measures of success. 

Rachel and I founded the business in 2018 after we have both been through some significant personal challenges. Challenges that hadn’t been helped by prioritising work and our careers over our own well-being. We founded the business on the belief that we can do good for our clients and ourselves. We felt there was a real opportunity in the market for a business that provided that personal service that could be reactive to client needs, supporting them to align their business with core ESG principles that drives both societal and environmental impact.

What is the story behind your brand? How did it become what it is today? 

This is our passion project! So the business name came about something that united us, our passion for our dogs. 

The brand has evolved over the 5 years, we have loved the opportunity to grow in new ways and I think have been surprised on the way our differing skills sets have grown to complement each other - for us it’s about providing an authentic and innovative service to our clients, and our different skill sets allow us to offer that full breadth of services to our clients.  

What personal attributes have most helped you succeed? 

A passion and genuine commitment and belief to the agenda is is key. I’ve worked with businesses that have had this baked into their DNA and those who have had to pivot to integrate an approach - and the commonality in both is working with teams of people who passionately believe in the the value sustainability / ESG can create for businesses.  

My other most personal learning is that you don’t have to be perfect and know all the answers to everything all of the time. It’s ok to to ask for help. Collaboration is absolutely key to achieving sustainability goals - building strong relationships is something that really matters to me and I hope reflects in the work we deliver.  

What would you say is the biggest challenge you've overcome in your career so far? 

Imposter syndrome has been a constant in my career, but as I’ve got older, I’ve learned to ignore that inner critic, but also embrace the opportunity to learn and fail. There are still days, or events where that feeling is still very much there. Just before we founded the business, I read a book called “Playing Big” (Tara Mohr) which I highly recommend everyone reads, there are some great practical examples to work through, but it also helped with finding my authentic voice and understanding that while that inner critic came from the perspective of trying to protect myself, it was holding me back. 

Running a business and having a baby during a global pandemic was pretty tough too, but the motivation to make the business a success keeps us going every day.  

What are the key qualities needed from leaders in ESG & Sustainability in 2023? 

Anyone who works in the Sustainability and ESG space know the importance of collaboration. A corporate sustainability / ESG strategy and goals will only be achieved if everyone in the business plays their role. So the ability to engage and collaborate with all the functions of the business and be able to tailor the ESG language you speak to your audience is absolutely key.  

Patience and flexibility are key too! Sustainability is a change management process, it can take years to see that change so you need to be prepared to play the long game. Flexibility - change in leadership, government regulation and policy etc. is constantly evolving so you have to be prepared to flex to respond to the needs of your stakeholders and the political landscape.  

What changes are you seeing within the industry right now and how are you planning for them? 

As I said before there’s a lot of change whether that be regulation, political agendas and more recently some real changes in corporate sentiment on the agenda. Although I think the latter is in part a reflection of the global economy.  

Another trend is the sheer number of jobs that are currently being advertised in this space - it’s a real positive and unprecedented. But with that comes the supply and demand challenges on talent. But we need to shift the dial from seeing this as a risk based issue to an opportunity based issue. We have an incredible opportunity to drive new skills, jobs as businesses transition to be more sustainable. We need to embrace that change and invest.