Sustainable Businesses – key takeaways from our latest online event

On the 15th of June 2021, Leaders First hosted SUSTAINABLE BUSINESSES online event, to discuss the topic of sustainability which should be approached with system thinking, integrated approach and expertise, whether we are referring to climate change, impact investments, or consumer goods.

Below are key takeaways from this online event. The full recording is available to Members of Leaders First on our online platform.

The first speaker was Marcela Navarro – CEO and Co-Founder at Project X Global, Value chain, Sustainability and Banking.

Taking by example her professional life career, Marcela explained the value of risks or, more specifically the value of the risk of uniqueness.

Marcela transformed her passion for the environment and inclusion into action, moved by her enjoyment of complexity which allowed her to dream.

Marcela inspired the audience by talking about the importance to retain the right to dream as a Leader and as human.

Marcela shared one of the biggest reasons why she founded Project X, by raising an important question on:

How to work with complexity and how to address complexity to not compromise execution at a larger scale and to not compromise the dreams of all the different individuals and companies in a value chain”

To create a Sustainable value chains, based on:

    • Innovation
    • Implementation – there’s no implementation with no action and execution
    • Impact

Used as an energy for collective movements. Marcela pointed out the main goals for Sustainability which are about: replacing with sustainable sources, and by paying attention to the food we eat, that raises the value of consciousness.

The inspiring intervention of Marcela concluded by stating that successful implementation of green strategies requires: Trust, coordinated actions and moving from the fear of staying stagnant to a lower fear of taking actions, so on how to remove the fear of risking limited budget, risking reputation or risking the unknown.

“ When we are actually in the present, risking not taking action is way more expensive and riskier towards sustainable implementations of strategies that work.”

The panel of experts was followed by an interview with Maria LombardoHead of ESG Client Strategies EMEA at Invesco.

Maria shared her professional journey that led her to sustainability, after more than 25 years in the banking industry.

Following the ability to consider the risks, the curiosity for Sustainability and new challenges, Maria chose to qualify and to study for this big move towards Sustainability.

Maria realized how Climate Change was becoming an area where owners and assets managers had to equip themselves to better understand these factors.

According to Maria, the start of this acceleration began in 2015 with the Paris agreement, when for the first time the main topic was related to Sustainability and there was an action plan instead of just intentions.

Maria mentioned the importance of the influential role that financial institutions from banks had in sustainable investments.

Sustainability became a relevant factor on investment strategies, as it creates risks or opportunities, stated Maria, that’s what it’s called material for the business because they might have consequences if it’s not taken into account.

The factors are amplified in the environmental area, in the social area, in the governance area that have an impact in the ability to evaluate the investment.

Maria concluded by pointing out the important steps and questions to follow towards the change:

    1. Establish your starting point
    2. What can you do for change?
    3. How can you redesign your investment fund?
    4. How can you reconsider your strategy?
    5. How can you reconsider your priority?

“Sustainability it’s the call to change, to really be brave and fearless as things need to change to guarantee a better future”



The third expert was Andrea Bariselli – Founder & Chief Scientist at Strobilo – -who shared with the audience his impressive professional experience as a Neuroscientist and the youngest ever director of a Clinical Psychology.

Andrea shared his experience working in Silicon Valley and USA, compared to Europe, by pointing out the importance of the connection with nature in order to find a way to put nature in daily life and not just in the spare time.

Andrea shared the story of his approach to Strobilo, by travelling around the world and being fascinated by understanding how humans react in being in a wild place or deeply connected with nature.

Andrea started to measure environmental conditions and the brain’s reactions and realized how human beings reacted all in the same ways to the same stimuli.

The big challenge for Andrea is to bring the forest to the city”, to recreate nature, and within his project created a tool, a platform, that prove and measure the level of Co2, the starting point that gently medge people, companies, and the government to spend money in that direction.


Andrea concluded by answering a question from the audience, stating that to be successful for him means having spare time and spending time outside, outdoor. Working not only for business but for a better future, for big masses.

Another innovative and inspiring experience was shared by Bernice Pan – Founder & Creative Director at Deploy, Designer, Entrepreneur, Advocate.

Bernice shared her insights of Sustainability taking as an example her background mindset since she was a young academic, she always tried to work on how to adapt things to make new life out of them moved by hating things waste.

The question Bernice was asking herself, as an entrepreneur, was:

“How can I use my talent and ability to really make a difference?”

Bernice started her journey working on how to make improvements to reconnect people to their environment, in a healthy way that has longevity.

Fashion, consumer products, retail industries, stated Bernice, is confronting this crisis point. Bernice founded Deploy, a direct consumer brand, to offer a sustainable lifestyle and lifestyle goal to care for people and the environment. The aim is to bring systemic change by influencing every single person whether they are suppliers or customers, stakeholders, students.

“Until you change people, you can’t change the environment and you can only change people genuinely by serving them better not by preaching them”

Bernice gave us a perspective about the importance of Sustainability viewed as a pragmatic and realistic relationship between humans and environment.

Businesses, by being transparent and responsible, have to be accountable for how to operate in this world. Because everything comes from natural resources which are shared as a world, and everything goes back to the earth or the sea or the atmosphere.

“We are not going to achieve the sustainability goals by 2030 or 2050 if we only think about sourcing organic products or recycling plastic.”

The core is to:

    • Establish meaningful relationships
    • Treasure keepsakes
    • Memorable experiences
    • Shared knowledge
    • Long Term collected benefits

Bernice concluded her intervention by suggesting to find out what’s not working in order to realistically find solutions for driving the change:

      1. Find the gap between idealism and reality, practicality
      2. Look beneath the surface and think beyond
      3. Empathy, understanding, shared values within the team

Our 4 TOP Key takeaways of the Ed-Event



1. Profitability via Sustainability – direction of investments, sustainable supply chain, managing risks 

  • Innovation
  • Implementation – there’s no implementation with no action and execution
  • Impact

2. Steps and questions to follow towards the change:

  • Establish your starting point
  • Risks or opportunities, material for business
3. Safeguarding the environment for human well-being and future generations:
  • Bring the forest to the city
  • Connection with nature
4. Critical problem of over-consumption with case studies from Fashion industry
  • Sustainable lifestyle and lifestyle goal to care for people and the environment.
We would like to thank our speakers for their contribution and our audience who joined the Event from all over the world.
If you wish to receive full access to all online events, including educational webinars and masterclasses with industry leaders and members of our professional network, you can apply to become a member of Leaders First.