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What would you ask a CEO about sustainability?

So next week I’m going to be lucky enough to spend some time talking with CEOs about sustainability at our Responsible Business Summit in London.

(note, no link, I’m not pitching it to you 🙂

A few years ago that would have filled me with feelings of dread.

Because interviewing most CEOs back then was like pulling teeth (I assume, I’ve not pulled many teeth).

One got soundbite and CSR-report copy replies and generalisations about leadership in response to questions. Yawn, sigh.

These days though, CEOs really do get it, at least the ones who speak (makes a change!), and so one can have a really quite interesting conversation and perhaps plant a few seeds in their minds.

With that in mind, here’s the bosses I am meeting below. What would you ask them?

My thoughts are in brackets after their company names below.

– John Brock, CEO, Coca-Cola Enterprises (I’m thinking suppliers)
– Paul Walsh, CEO, Diageo (David Grayson interviewing him, but can feed in ideas)
– Ian Cheshire, CEO, Kingfisher (I’m thinking collaboration vs. competition)
– Peter Rothwell, CEO, Kuoni Travel (David again, but happy to suggest)
– Stef Kranendijk, CEO, Desso (Lessons from quick progress)
– Tom Vesey, CEO, Risk 2 Reputation (Key tips on board engagement in reputation)

Now, I know there are no women here. We really tried hard to get female CEOs. We racked our brains, we researched, we just couldn’t get anyone on board.

So gender diversity is perhaps one area to ask about. What else would you want to know/ask/plant in their heads?

I’ll do my best to report back on what they said for those who can’t make it along.


  1. Please ask Ian Cheshire, CEO, Kingfisher why he thinks sustainability is not enough and has to aim for net positive. The nature of sustainable development is to continuously improve which includes net positive!

  2. Andy Last

    If you were in charge of an alcoholic drinks company, can you use issues like responsible drinking to drive brand growth?

  3. Anonymous

    Sally Jewell at REI is a good CEO you could talk to about sustainability in the future.