Today, every other company seems to have a CSR or charitable vision of some sort, and often some pretty well-thought out strategies for reaching those goals. It’s great to see, and it reflects the way that customers demand ever higher standards from businesspeople. A lot of people won’t work with companies who don’t set themselves high ethical standards, and I strongly believe that’s the way it should be.
But I’ve also always felt that operating in an ethical manner is most powerful when there is a practical, perceptible change. What do I mean by that? Well, I mean investing (whether in terms of time or money) in those projects in a way that will make the maximum difference. So when I invest, or we make a contribution whether in terms of time or money through the Omnia Foundation, we make a personal commitment to engage completely in whatever project it is we’re interested in.
THE PERSONAL TOUCH
I think the reason we take this approach just comes down to the kind of person I am. I’m hands on. I’m someone who has always liked to get out there and meet people – to hear their stories and to find out how I can help them out. I thrive on being directly involved in things. I’ve never understood those businesspeople who will put their money into anything – whether it’s companies or good causes – that they’re not really interested in engaging in. It’s an approach that baffles me.
A TEAM OF LIKEMINDED PEOPLE
I think that this attitude is reflected in the people I work alongside. I’m very lucky in the team of great people I’ve built around me. The Omnia Foundation is the charitable arm of our business, and I think that together we’ve done a great job of carrying the mindset and philosophy that has made OMNIA such a success over to this other part of our business. These people are creative, but they’re also driven by the same entrepreneurial spirit that has always been at the heart of how Mette (OMNIA co-founder) and I do business. We’re all ‘do-ers’ – people who are inspired and excited by making things happen.
Together, we’ve brought that entrepreneurial attitude to bear on all sorts of projects – whether it’s looking at how we can support a forward-looking tech company who is trying to make clean energy affordable for all – or by sponsoring a charity organisation fulfilling the dreams of chronically ill children.
I was really proud to be able to put our time and money into helping Kessel Solar, who have created the world’s most innovative and cost-efficient residential water heating system.
Their work is a great example of the kind of project I love – the chance to make an innovative solution to a serious problem come alive – by investing in a smart, targeted and fully engaged way.
Once again, my approach to business has always been built around developing great relationships first, and then putting my time and money into the places where it will make the most difference. Investments can sometimes be lost in large organisations, and it’s often hard to make that personal connection with the people you’re investing in. That’s not how I do business.
If we’re going to make life better for as many people as possible in this world, then I believe that taking the personal approach, in as impactful and targeted a way as possible, is the only way to truly make a difference.