RRA recently hosted a breakfast for Energy & Infrastructure board members to discuss collaboration in the global energy transition.


Russell Reynolds Associated recently hosted an Energy & Infrastructure breakfast event, which brought together a community of Board members, to discuss the need for collaboration in the global energy transition.



Guest Speaker

Mark Cutifani  

Mark Cutifani, Chair of Vale Base Metals and Non-Executive Director of Total Energies and Laing O’Rourke and former Group Chief Executive Officer of Anglo American, shared his perspectives on how the energy, natural resources and infrastructure sectors will only solve for decarbonization and delivery of the energy transition through collaboration rather than competition.



Summarizing the Discussion

Despite momentum, the pace of the global energy transition is still too slow. As industrial companies look to accelerate their decarbonization, including the sustainable re-configuration of their supply chains, isolated action will not suffice. Global transition success - especially in hard-to-abate industries, requires “broad interdisciplinary mobilization of expertise, convictions, resources, and multi-stakeholder collaboration”.1 So, looking to the future, how can industrial companies drive the deeper collaboration that is necessary to deliver the energy transition?

Effective stakeholder engagement.

Engaging stakeholder groups in the process of change is key to the success of interventions as they have a shared role to play in co-designing sustainable pathways.

  1. Multi-stakeholder mapping. With stakeholders as active participants, companies can better mitigate adverse development impacts, strengthen resource decisions, and benefit from comparative advantages such as local or specialized expertise, accessible only through some stakeholder groups. Engaging the right stakeholders should be achieved through a holistic, multi-level, and multi-systems approach to mapping and identification. As new stakeholders emerge, and others change their positions over time, mapping should be an iterative and continuous process.

  2. Meaningful and high-quality participatory approaches. Companies should expand their participation activity portfolio to include flexible and learning-based collaboration tools and decision-making processes. Regional development collaboration workshops, for example, allow organizations to work alongside various governing bodies, other organizations, and local community groups, to look together at infrastructure challenges to align on where to develop local infrastructure and multi-use facilities for optimal shared benefit.

  3. Communication and transparency of policy, decision-making and activities are key to building trust with stakeholders and customers. Moreover, while the idea of green energy has become increasingly popular, fewer understand its importance in climate change mitigation. Companies must learn how to effectively communicate the benefits of sustainable development, particularly in local communities where impact is directly felt.

Shared value: a just transition.

The transition to clean energy is more than an environmental issue – it is also about bringing a range of positive benefits to societies. Shared value is key, and development should solve local community issues alongside decarbonization and business imperatives.


Reconcile the balance between solving for things that matter whilst returning value to shareholders.

Some stakeholders may believe that the dual imperatives of energy sustainability and creating value for shareholders are conflicting goals. They are not. Anglo American, for example, managed to deliver a 22 percent average shareholder return whilst being recognized for leadership in sustainability.

Unlike major competitors, Anglo American’s minerals portfolio was dominated by metals (not iron ore). In this context, their structural cost base was increasing quicker than others, due to increasing depth and other physical constraints.  Step-change innovation, mining system applications and operating models were critical to outpacing competition in cost reductions and shareholder returns.  In 9 years, Anglo American moved from an aggregated 49th percentile cost position to within the 30th percentile.  But, that position is fragile and requires continued focus and integration between the centre and operations. Investments in innovation and applications expertise at the centre have delivered significant value and the key source of growth, and competitive advantage during Anglo American’s ‘transformation years’. Shareholders must be educated on the long-term investment case and leaders must be bold in vision, and steadfast in their pursuit of change.


Beyond scope 3: scope 4 emissions are the right focus.

Avoided emissions, or scope 4, refer to the emission reductions that occur outside of a value chain or the life cycle of a product.2 By adopting this measurement, companies can better allocate capital to the most impactful places in terms of quantity of avoided emissions per unit of investment over a particular timespan. They can also monitor and thus better communicate measurable climate impact to investors and stakeholders.


Sustainable mindset: multi-level systems thinking.

All collaborative energy transition action is underpinned by the need for leaders to adopt a ‘sustainable mindset.’ Russell Reynolds defined four critical attributes that differentiate successful sustainable leaders:



Russell Reynolds, Model of the Sustainable Leader


Abigail Skerrett    

Abigail Skerrett  

Abigail is a member of the firm’s Global Energy & Natural Resources Practice, she co-leads the Energy Transition Practice and is also a member of the Chemicals, Materials & Packaging Practice. 



Hetty Pye  

Hetty Pye 

Hetty is a member of Russell Reynolds Associates’ Board and CEO Advisory Partners Sector and leads the UK Industrial & Natural Resources Practice.



1 World Economic Forum | Fostering Effective Energy Transition

2 World Resources Institute | Benchmarks for Success at COP28



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