Aug 23, 2022
Meet SustainLab’s new Chief Sustainability Officer, Micaela Quesada Longgren
We are so excited to announce our new addition to the SustainLab team – please give a warm welcome to Micaela Quesada Longgren, who is SustainLab’s new Chief Sustainability Officer! With Micaela on our team, our contribution to our customers will now be greatly improved, and we can better help them create impact with the help of sustainability data.
We sat down with Micaela to ask her a few questions about herself, her sustainability journey and how she will create impact together with SustainLab’s customers:
Hey Micaela, so nice to have you on our team! Could you tell us a bit more about yourself and your sustainability journey?
It started when I was a kid, I was really passionate about the environment, and the people and the planet, and in 2008 I studied environmental engineering in Germany.
Then I moved back to South America and worked with a sustainable development project, and in 2014, I moved to Sweden to study environmental and sustainability science at Lund University. After the masters, I worked at a nonprofit called CDP. Most recently I come from working with sustainability, and specifically climate strategy and targets, in a Swedish international construction company.
How do you feel about your new role?
I'm excited, energized, and I'm humbled to get the opportunity to work with sustainability impact in a holistic and forward-looking manner. By connecting sustainability and tech, I really believe that has a big impact in creating future sustainable societies. I'm thrilled to join the core team, at an early stage, and I think we have a lot to achieve and are very ambitious, which is the main reason I joined the team.
What will be the focus of your role at SustainLab?
My focus will be to understand the business and set some ambitious targets for us, and see where I can impact the most. I will be helping our customers and potential customers by leading projects related to sustainability data.
I will also lead the sustainability roadmap of product development, all the way from prioritizing what features should be developed, to helping create the UX and testing the finalized product, and I will also be developing the sustainability frameworks for features and recommendations that will be implemented in the platform.
What do you wish to achieve in your new role?
Measurable and tangible impact, and measurable outcomes. Here, I want to say that there's room for everyone. There's room for the activists, there's room for the lawyers and the legal teams, etc.
Our role at SustainLab is really about the measuring of impact. And everybody has an impact. So how good are the organizations that are using the platform? I want us to understand the data and insights our partners and customers are getting so that we can help them track it. I see us as a strategic piece of the answer by helping track the data.
So if an organization measures and has a gender equality ratio of 70:30, and then they work towards improving it with different initiatives, and finally reach 50:50 after action and tracking, then bam – that's a clear outcome.
What is something that requires a lot more focus in today’s sustainability industry?
I think that focus is needed in being holistic and inclusive about other social and sustainability aspects.
So, data for all, accessible for everyone in the organization, and working in an iterative way. That is easier when we get insights with updated and automated data. So basically in the same way you get financial data, sustainability data should be looked at the same way.
You have a monthly budget. How much did you spend? How much did you save? In the same way, you want to know if you're making progress towards other aspects, for example, gender equality.
What is something that frustrates you with our transition towards a green society?
Perhaps two main frustrations. One is that sustainability should not be done solely by sustainability people – everyone can contribute; it needs to be shared responsibility across the value chain.
And the other frustration is that we only measure profit. In larger systems thinking, we need to change that, that profit is more important than the contribution to the wellbeing of people and the planet. Organizations are working with that, but we need to have a valid way of getting the credit.
We don't always get credit for measuring and improving a product. So I'll give you an example: We have a product that has a positive impact on society and still the reward only comes from the profit made of selling that product. We need to put the ESG (environment, social, governance) aspects next to the monetary profit.
What is a common misconception about sustainability that needs to be cleared up as soon as possible?
The thought that it’s too complex – sustainability specialists know what to do, and it's amazing that we know what to do, and organizations need to dare to do it.
So having more insights coming from data management, climate declarations, life cycle analysis, we are getting the insights about what we need to do – but we shouldn't be waiting.
What inspires you in the work you do?
I am inspired by climate action, genuine action and organizations that are taking the next step in their sustainability journey. And here I want to highlight – it is a journey. So it's important to start somewhere. At the same time we've reached a landscape where it's becoming more and more ambitious.
So I see that leading companies are doing great, and they need to be held accountable now. I'm also keen on working with the companies who are struggling to start, maybe the laggards, as long as the ambition is there. Big or small, there has to be the value of ambition behind the work, and then we'll find a way together.