Russell Reynolds Associates (‘RRA’) hosted a panel discussion for a group of senior sustainability leaders to unite experts from across corporate sectors with the investment community around the common goals of sustainable development and systems change. With the intent to bring a cross-sector view, our panel was comprised of an energy investor turned investment leader, a mining leader turned sustainability leader and Board director and an engineer/technician turned sustainability leader who has worked in all sectors and just joined a private equity firm.

Our panelists:


Poppy Allonby 

Global Head of ESG Enablement 
T. Rowe Price 
Poppy Allonby is a senior financial services executive with a passion for management, finance, the energy transition and sustainability. Before joining T. Rowe Price, she spent 21 years as a senior executive at BlackRock where she held a number of roles. Most recently she was head of the Global Product Group in EMEA & APAC.




Zoe Haseman 

Head of Sustainability Infrastructure
Zoe brings 20 years’ international experience as a sustainability executive, working across multiple sectors and industries. She recently joined EQT as their Head of Sustainability, Infrastructure. Previously, she was the Global Head of Sustainability and ESG for Jacobs, responsible for the global sustainability strategy and integration of ESG-related business risks and opportunities.



Tracey Kerr  

Tracey Kerr

Non-Executive Director
Jubilee Metals Group, The Weir Group and HOCHSCHILD
Tracey was Group Head of Sustainable Development at Anglo American Plc between 2020 and 2021. Prior to that, she held accountability for safety, operational risk management and sustainable development across the Anglo American group from 2016 to 2020 and served as Group Head of Exploration from 2011 to 2015. In her earlier career she held a variety of roles at Vale S.A. and BHP Pty Ltd. She was previously a Non-Executive Director at Polymetal International Plc.


Given RRA’s role as leadership advisors, leadership was an important element throughout the discussion, which focused on the evolving macro pressures influencing investors whose expectations are, in turn, rapidly changing. The panel discussion was followed by an engaging Q&A conversation with the attendees.

  • Despite the varied background of the panelists, there was agreement from the group on several trends in the evolving sustainability and ESG space:
    • Sustainability has evolved from being a side topic to being central to every leadership, boardroom and investment committee discussion. Notwithstanding the economic downturn on the horizon, the momentum and demand for sustainability from different stakeholders remains high.
    • The complexity of ESG lies in the fact that often the different pillars of sustainability have a complex relationship and can even be in conflict with each other. Non-financial reporting standards will help overcome these disparities. There is optimism that non-financial reporting standards will be achieved sooner rather than later, especially through ISSB.
    • While waiting for standardised reporting, investors have increasingly been asking for raw data, rather than high level sustainability disclosures. This indicates that there is appropriate scrutiny of generic ratings.

  • Momentum, optimism and investor engagement indicate that leaders are supported now more than ever in their sustainability agendas. Successful leaders will need to be risk-taking and adopt disruptive innovation in setting ambitious but achievable goals; and will need the ability to grasp the multi-level system in which sustainability realities exist. Leaders will also need to be agile and resilience to operate in a system of continuous evolution. The ability of leaders to articulate the purpose with a long-term innovation view of their organizations will also be crucial to maintain the continuity of sustainability agendas (rather than them being tied to one person); and to attract next-gen talent. The top-down involvement from CEOs and C-Suite leaders is needed to mobilise organisations towards sustainability agendas, and this does not require all leaders to be sustainability experts – but finding which of the many aspects of sustainability motivates each leader.

  • Solutions to advance sustainability include considerations around:
    • Divestiture is not always a solution to the problem if there is not enough scrutiny of ownership on how materials and sourced are used after being sold. Therefore, the world is moving towards engagement and influencing change with the dirty industries in addition to financing green businesses.
    • There was recognition from the group that beyond the relationship between companies and investors, there are other stakeholders which influence sustainability outcomes and sustainable leadership requires stakeholder inclusion. These include consumers and the responsibilities that should be placed on them; the role of legislation and policy played by governments in guiding consumers and companies; and wider civil society entities which will need to partner with corporates and the private sector towards the achievement of sustainable goals.