Ian Anderson joined Momentum Support in 2010 when Ireland’s economic situation and the Sustainability agenda were in a very different space. Over his almost ten years of service with the company, Ian has seen Momentum Support grow from strength to strength. The company supports public and private sector businesses of all sizes throughout Ireland and the UK with a range of outsourced services (primarily cleaning and security). Momentum Support’s clients are some of the biggest brands in Ireland and the UK, and Ian, who is ultimately accountable for the company’s existing operations and future growth strategies, is the driving force behind an increasingly mature sustainability strategy. He believes, as a leading employer in the sector, Momentum Support and industry as a whole are uniquely positioned to make a significant contribution and positive impact to sustainability goals.
Three years ago Momentum Support set out to create a cohesive sustainability strategy aligned with business conditions and customer needs. We recently sat down with the company’s Group Chief Operating Officer, Ian Anderson, to discuss progress on their journey and where he sees Momentum Support’s sustainability agenda going in the future.
How has sustainability evolved within your company?
Momentum Support is a people-centred company which means we set out business objectives and then empower our employees to execute those objectives. Historically we would have strong areas of sustainability performance, particularly in terms of community engagement, employee development, and the Environment. Over the past three years though, as we have undergone a period of rapid business growth and continued to recognise the changing landscape in which we operate, we have increased our investment, developed our infrastructure and matured our strategy. This was necessary to create consistency in an increasingly complex business and to focus our priorities. Working with Business in the Community has provided us with additional expertise to help us focus our priorities around the structure of the five CSR pillars which are now deeply embedded in all activities as business as usual. We have been working really-hard to ensure we are consistently improving communications, maximising learning opportunities and executing our strategy effectively, hence we have established a CSR Division and dedicated CSR Lead who is now a member of my Senior Leadership Team. We have used our strategic approach not only to increase our awareness and delivery of sustainability initiatives but also to facilitate increased employee engagement through facilitating and encouraging participation in a wide range of working groups and forums.
Sustainability has many key challenges and issues, what are the ones personally important to you?
I think when we talk about sustainability most people think of environmental initiatives like climate change, energy or biodiversity. People and society though are equally important to me personally, especially when it comes to inclusion, poverty and employment. Through the journey we have been on so far and the learning that has been attained, I have been amazed at how much scope there is to make a difference through our employability programmes and by creating an inclusive environment where everyone is welcomed. I find having an opportunity to drive and support such initiatives that can improve peoples’ lives very rewarding and exceptionally gratifying. I have been amazed at how much scope there is to make a difference and in so many ways. Sometimes the simplest of activities that don’t necessarily even have a cost associated with them can make a critical difference in someone’s life.
What do you think the role of business is in driving the sustainability agenda?
In short, I think the role business plays in driving the sustainability agenda is massive and highly influential. The impact business can make however is still very much underestimated. As I mentioned before, Momentum Support has always been involved in sustainability activities however they were pretty much informal and not necessarily quantified particularly well. When we decided that Social Value would be a key theme within our overarching business strategy, one of the objectives that we set was on quantifying our contributions to the different sustainability goals. Quantifying our contribution has allowed me to present a more meaningful message to employees, demonstrating to them the bigger picture contributions they are making. This in turn gives employees the information they need to support customer conversations which creates a ripple effect, influencing customer sustainability goals and activities. Our contributions are also amplified by collective action campaigns like the Business Impact Map. Through businesses taking a key lead in driving and supporting sustainability initiatives, the audience they reach, not only from a participation perspective but also from a learning and awareness perspective is absolutely huge and extremely influential to the process.
What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?
When it comes to sustainability, I think my biggest accomplishment has been acknowledging the impact that Momentum Support can make and having the courage to invest in our CSR Division to ensure we maximise our contributions. In terms of learning, there are so many things I have learnt along the journey and in particular that the smallest contribution can make such a difference to someone’s circumstances. On a specific point however, when it comes to individuals, I have really learnt how “stigma” can be such a hurdle for some people to overcome, particularly when it comes to employment. Whether it is in relation to something unfortunate that has happened in the past, through disability, health issues, personal circumstances or even through academia there is still so much ignorance and lack of understanding around how we can help individuals overcome these hurdles.
What is your Motto in life?
Two simple words: Nurture Adaptability. We live in an ever-changing world. Life presents so many challenges in our work and personal lives. Nurturing adaptability means cultivating a personal capacity for resilience that makes it easier to withstand life’s challenges. Mindful awareness and a daily practice Of Act or Accept helps me remain focused and continually overcome challenges. Together with having experienced a strong sense of purpose and achievement this provides for a real feel good factor.