Throughout the past few months, I had the opportunity to work as an intern in Accenture Strategy’s sustainability practice on a circular economy project, which culminated in the annual Circular Awards at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Business leaders and politicians flocked to snowy Davos to discuss issues ranging from globalization and technology to diversity and inclusion.
One of the hottest topics at this year’s World Economic Forum was sustainability and the fight against global warming. It seemed that senior political and business leaders were showcasing to U.S. President Donald Trump—the first sitting U.S. president to attend since Bill Clinton—that the Paris Climate Accord is indeed important.
Mathias ready to take on snowy Davos.
In countless discussions in Davos, I heard the plea to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to drastically improve recycling processes and to dramatically invest in renewable energy. While many business leaders underlined their commitment to more sustainable business practices, I also heard some cautionary voices from the developing world, emphasizing the need to spur growth around the globe to alleviate poverty. It seemed like this decades-long conflict between development and growth on the one hand, and ecological sustainability on the other, had finally re-emerged.
Mathias at the Circular Awards in Davos.
This time, though, we have an answer: the circular economy—the effort to transform our linear business model (make, consume, throw away) to a circular model, in which used goods are automatically upcycled through the value chain. Accenture Strategy is at the forefront of this novel way of doing business, and this year’s Circular Awards, under stewardship of Senior Managing Director Peter Lacy, shed a bright light on businesses and political leaders that actively try to break with the paradigm of the linear economy. If we could create both growth and a more sustainable business model, we would solve two problems at once: tackling climate change and speeding up human development around the world.
My time at Accenture Strategy not only helped me to understand the internal processes at a top management consulting firm, but it also taught me how to reconcile the need for economic growth and sustainable development. Moreover, I had the unique opportunity to engage with senior Accenture leadership, including CEO Pierre Nanterme and Chief Leadership and HR Officer Ellyn Shook. I got a glimpse into the shiny Davos world, in which business leaders and politicians mingle to solve the world’s biggest problems.
Lastly, I had the great pleasure to work on a team full of passionate and dedicated individuals. A group in which each and every opinion was valued, and individual team members were put in a position to learn and grow. My part-time internship at Accenture Strategy in London and the trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos was a life-changing experience, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity.
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