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Sustainable Nation

The Sustainable Nation Podcast delivers interviews with global leaders in sustainability and regenerative development three times a week. Our goal is to provide sustainability professionals, business leaders, academics and anyone interested in joining the sustainability revolution, with information and insights from the world's most inspiring change-makers.

Jul 14, 2021

With over 3 decades of experience at Procter & Gamble in Brand Management and Innovation, Virginie has a broad experience across multiple categories and global to local brand management expertise. Virginie has worked across several of P&G’s multi-billion dollar brands, including Pantene, Ariel/Tide, and Pampers, and has extensive international experience having been based in France, UK, Switzerland and the United States throughout her career.

Since 2011, Virginie’s focus has been on sustainability and corporate citizenship, with a global remit covering all brands and business units, in all regions. Her mission was to embed sustainability into the innovation, brand-building and everyday business practices at P&G. In 2016, she was promoted to Vice President of Global Sustainability, in recognition of the work she has led to make sustainability a core business strategy, an innovation driver and a catalyst for a more resilient organisation.

Even though Virginie recommended the creation of this new position, her vision has always been for the role to become obsolete, with sustainability embedded in everything P&G does as second nature. As she puts it: “Innovation and communication will not be conceived without sustainable groundings.”

Prior to her current position, Virginie was the Western Europe Franchise Leader for Ariel, one of P&G’s largest brands, where she turned Ariel into the leader in sustainability through the launch of the highly successful “Cool Clean/Turn to 30” campaign and the most sustainable laundry product (Excel Gel).

Beyond her brand and innovation expertise, she is a certified coach and widely recognised for her vision, change management and leadership development skills.

Virginie Joins Sustainable Nation to Discuss:

  • Making sustainability irresistible - change management and motivation
  • P&G's process for prioritizing and developing sustainability goals
  • Getting executive leadership on board with aspirational goals
  • P&G's role in the 50 Liter Home coalition
  • Advice and recommendations for sustainability leaders 

Virginie's Final Five Questions Responses

What is one piece of advice you would give other sustainability professionals that might help them in their careers?

Depending on where they are on their journey, it will be different advice. For the beginners, I would say understand the science so that you can define your strategy based on where you can have the greatest impact. For the most advanced, which have probably exhausted all the programs that they can directly control and do on their own, I would encourage them to go and join others in collaboration and coalition and choose the ones that are committed to action. You have some that are more about think tank- I think here it's about action, and also those who have the greatest scale.

What are you most excited about right now in the world of sustainability?

It forces you to ask questions that you would not ask in business otherwise. What is the role of your business or your brand in society? That's our program on basis core brand 2030 - that each brand needs to have a commitment which is societal, environmental and social. It forces you to ask you those big questions. It also forces you to ask, how can you do more with less - sustainability as a key driver of innovation. How can you do what was deemed impossible; when you come together to do things like with the 50 Liter Home coalition. It's an amazing catalyst for widening the screen, opening the box, and really big transformations of systems.

What is one book you would recommend sustainability professionals read?

I would recommend books that are actually not on sustainability but on leadership. It's all about great leadership and leading change. One that I really like, it's called Building the Bridge As You Walk On It, it's from Rob Quinn. And the one I mentioned which is Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard from Dan and Chip Heath.

What are some of your favorite resources or tools that really help you in your work?

I would mention collaboration organizations that are member based. I would mention two of them because for me personally they have been ones that have been the most enriching and the most actionable as well. One is called Sustainable Brands. It's the leading organization of brands and sustainability to help brands really on the journey of becoming sustainable and now even regenerative in business. The other one is called The World Business Council for Sustainable Development. It's an organization of 200 CEOs who are getting together to tackle the big global challenges, and they're also very inspiring; very bias to action and making a difference.

Where can our listeners go to learn more about you and the work that you are leading at Procter and Gamble?

Go to our website, we actually just refreshed it. We have added a big section section with our new goals on forestry. There is the website and there is the citizenship report that we issue every year. The latest one is from November of last year. Lots of brand stories and fascinating partnerships that we described there. Follow me on LinkedIn; I share regularly all our best stories.