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#ComeBackStronger: how Greenology is navigating the future

As lockdown continues to be eased and businesses start to resume activity, while transitioning into their new normal, here at Refresh we’re starting a new blog series focused on the notion of how to ‘Come Back Stronger.’ We have a brand-new look and along with our clients, media contacts and the industry experts we have on speed dial, we’re ready to take the future into our own hands.

Over the next few months, we will be speaking to our contacts to uncover what they believe the future holds post-COVID. We’ll be highlighting the positive outcomes of the pandemic – despite what many might think there are some out there, while sharing what the last few months has taught them, how they’re planning to grow in the current climate and what they’re feeling optimistic about.

For our first post in the series, we spoke to Laura Hepburn, director of Greenology, Women's Engineering Society top 50 engineer in sustainability for 2020, and Future Northern Power Women for 2020, about her outlook on the future.

Laura’s company Greenology is paving the way globally in transforming problem waste into energy, while her pioneering work around pyrolysis technology and the processing of problem plastics into oil, bio-diesel and other valuable bi-products has seen her win multiple notable awards. Here’s what she had to say.

How are you accelerating company growth in the current climate?

We’ve been incredibly fortunate throughout the pandemic to-date, with work still coming in thick and fast – and, as bizarre as it sounds, we have even able to gain funding in places we wouldn’t have typically been able to.

In terms of growth, our attention is very much on the avenues we’ve been seeing opportunity in but, like many other businesses out there, COVID-19 really has shaped our future. We don’t want to return to the old ‘normal!’ Our focus will be on creating our new future and ensuring nobody gets left behind, by providing the tools and support our communities need and by filling the gaps in the industry and upskilling future generations.

Where do you see your future opportunities lying?

Over the last few months, we’ve had the chance to reassess the business and although we’re classed as frontline workers and have worked throughout, the markets did change – which we’re anticipating will be the case forever now. As such, we pivoted and were able to create jobs and opportunities in areas that we feel will build the green economy, will be sustainable and will give security to people in our locality – which we’re incredibly pleased about.

What are you most optimistic about?

The one thing we have seen post-COVID that we have been so enamoured by in business, has been everyone’s resilience. This is proof that even when the world comes to a stop, we’re able to work together collaboratively, support each other, provide endless resources and essentially, just show empathy to one another to ensure we make it out the other side. Let’s just hope it’s these elements of the pandemic that shape our future – this new form of positive leadership.

Additionally, despite Greenology being a green energy organisation, we have also found more opportunities to improve our commitment to reducing our overall environmental impact. For instance, in recent months we’ve looked at opportunities like recycling wind turbine blades using our existing technology to create a world-leading solution that can help both globally and locally. While our main focus is to help our own community and hopefully inspire other business to do the same, it feels great to be making such an impact on a global level.

What are you looking forward to implementing/changing?

The current climate is really proving to be a fantastic opportunity for organisations, communities and people to have a voice about what needs changing and how we can grow.

I’m excited to see people collaborating to do this, especially in the green economy. Lockdown provided people with the evidence and information that climate change isn’t just something on the television. It’s something that’s happening to the world right now and we have to make changes now, if we’re going to make a difference for future generations.

Unlike many other businesses out there, we didn’t close our doors and go into lockdown. We had to continue our work regardless but, seeing many organisations pivot to remote working really did highlight the importance of protecting the wellbeing of employees even further. We believe this flexibility will be a positive move for many, including many of our clients, and will help people effectively manage their work/life balance better.   

What opportunities have you seen arise?

The opportunities we’ve seen arise have been amazing – not just for the team at Greenology, but across the board. For example, I’m just about to expand into the hospitality industry, launching a spa and Air BnB business in the next couple of weeks.

While the hospitality industry was hit hard by the pandemic, we’re already seeing it bounce back and I believe there’s huge opportunity in this space – in order to succeed in this climate, you really do have to take risks. We’re also excited that this move will help our local community in terms of jobs and boost the local economy, driving tourism to the area.

How are you remaining positive?

As the sole, female director of a firm and a mother of three, you have no choice but to keep smiling. You only need to switch on the news to remember how lucky we are - and yes there’s a lot of pressure, but you have to grab it with both hands and create opportunities out of crisis.

How are you maintaining a work/life balance and ensuring family time?

It’s one of those things where unfortunately, I had to change my mindset. I initially found it quite hard when people were talking about how wonderful the weather was in lockdown and how much fun they were having with their kids, while I had to work full-time. Although I didn’t get those precious moments and three months off, I’m just grateful my business was able to not only survive but to thrive during a time of crisis – giving my family, my employees and their families security.  

What have been your key learnings from the last few months?

To help others rise, to provide people with the tools they require to get through this, to recognise fantastic leadership and to compliment people when you they deserve it, as the only way we can get through this is together.

What else are you doing to prepare for the future?

It’s going to be a bumpy road, there are going to be tough times when the subsidies, grants and government funding stops – and when reality hits home, but we have the means to put measures in place to look after those who have been affected most by the pandemic. If we work together with tenacity, we’ll get through this.

If you’re looking for support on navigating the current climate or for tips on how to communicate through this period - or if you'd like to have your story told as part of this series - get in touch.

As the sole, female director of a firm and a mother of three, you have no choice but to keep smiling. You only need to switch on the news to remember how lucky we are - and yes there’s a lot of pressure, but you have to grab it with both hands and create opportunities out of crisis.

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