Michael Page's Sustainable Matters: Matthew Yeo, Managing Director at Accenture

For our Sustainable Matters series, we are spotlighting the people and companies leading the charge in creating a better world for future generations. 

In this feature, Matthew Yeo, Managing Director at Accenture Indonesia, shares that with shareholders and employees clamouring for change, having a robust sustainability strategy in place is now not just a moral obligation but rather a very real economic imperative.

In this video, Dezwin Soelaeman, Research Consultant at Page Executive Indonesia, speaks with Matthew Yeo, Managing Director at Accenture.

Q:  How have you managed to embed sustainable thinking within your company? 

I haven't actually had to embed sustainable thinking within my company because my company is already very sustainable. For instance, our global CEO, Julie Sweet, even has a sustainability dashboard on her laptop, so she can see in real-time how each of the company units are doing in terms of sustainability, relating to factors such as carbon emissions and supply chain.  

What I can tell you specifically for Accenture's Indonesia office is that this year, we’re running, for the first time, on 100% renewable energy as we are purchasing green energy from one of the renewable energy providers in Indonesia.

Q: What is your company’s biggest driver of change towards sustainability?

Companies want to be sustainable these days. This includes companies in Indonesia and the reason is this: Shareholders and international buyers alike want to buy renewable and sustainable products. Buyer pressure is a real push.

And if we at Accenture want to sell our services or work to clients, it is important for us to be sustainable because increasingly, companies and buyers want to buy green. Shareholders are demanding it. Financiers are demanding it as well. So, it's coming from all angles. At Accenture, we also have a very young [workforce]. Sustainability is embedded in the company’s culture and this helps drive change in the company. 

Q: What leadership qualities do you think are needed by innovators in the field of sustainability? 

The first is that the leader must understand the “hard” technology relating to sustainability. This person needs to be able to explain sustainability technology to shareholders and employees. They must know, for instance, how solar panels, batteries, and wind turbines work, so they can make a decision that’s in the best interest of the company. 

There also needs to be an understanding of another type of technology, which is digital technology. This is important because it functions as a lever to optimise the returns and revenues from the implementation of the “hard” technology.  

In short, I would say that leaders in the field of sustainability must be familiar with issues that make the most sense for their company for the initiatives to have a real impact.  

Q: What makes you feel optimistic about business's ability to rise to the sustainability challenge? 

There are two things. The first is that is they must do it. It’s no longer a choice. If companies do not have a good record in sustainability, they won't do well. They won't have employees, they won't have shareholders, they won’t have buyers.  

The other thing that makes me optimistic is that the technology is finally here. If you said, 10 years ago, “I want to I put solar panels on my roof”, everybody will laugh at you, because the price of solar energy was just too high.  

12 years ago, I was with the Singapore government, and I was trying to push for electric vehicle adoption in Singapore. I have didn’t have much success because nobody would have bought an electric vehicle then. The battery technology wasn’t there. You’d drive a short distance, and your car would run out of battery power.  

Now the technology is here. The price of solar energy is close to that of conventional energy resources, and electric vehicles can go for hundreds of miles. That’s why I think it's realistic for companies to be more sustainable now.  

Q: What advice do you have for others looking to make a change in terms of sustainability? 

One piece of advice is not to change for the sake of change, but to find a real and valid reason to change. If you're a CEO of a company, you should choose to go green because you want to add value to your shareholders or because you want to increase your revenue [rather than just follow the crowd]. It could also be because you want to attract more green financing or a more dynamic workforce.

Interested in a career in ESG? Browse open jobs in sustainability, or submit your CV

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