Faces of Industry is a series of articles exploring the personal histories of our practitioners, sharing the key experiences that defined their values and exploring why they do what they do. In this story, Richard discusses his reasons behind his dual interests in tech and sustainability.
You can’t get change to stick without the right people supporting it.
Richard Sedgwick’s title, Chief Transformation Architect, is somewhat unique, but the words are quite deliberate. “‘Transformation’ can apply to lot of things but in my case, I focus on helping companies transform the way they operate to achieve net zero carbon emissions,” he says. “What I actually do is similar to what traditional architects do for people who want to build a home. I help design a plan to reach their goal or net zero while understanding and accounting for the obstacles and constraints they may encounter along the way.”
His first exposure to the potential of technology came after university when he worked for a major airline. This was at the time when people were beginning to use the internet to book travel, which for that industry was a massive transformation. He became involved in developing and launching the airline’s e-commerce channel, and through that he realized it was going to fundamentally change the way all companies interacted with their customers. A few years later, he saw people using their phones to check in for flights and had another realization about the huge role mobile technology was bound to play.
Something he thinks is often underappreciated about TMT is the importance of people. “Yes, having a great product is obviously very important,” Richard says, “but when a company undergoes dramatic transformation, whether for growth or to be more competitive, it really needs the right people in the right places to make it all happen. You can’t get change to stick without the right people supporting it.”
Over the last several years, he has started to bring a sustainability lens to his work because he wants to make a positive difference for his children’s futures. Recently, Richard participated in a twelve-week course at the University of Cambridge on sustainability leadership. “It was a fantastic experience that first took us through the science of climate change and then moved onto what organizations can do to shrink their carbon footprints,” he said. “I came away feeling like I’d be able to better help my clients as they transform to meet decarbonization goals and by the way, tech is going to play a vital role. I also came away very encouraged about our ability to change on a corporate and individual level.”
He adds, “Reducing my own footprint has brought changes to my personal life. It means less personal travel, for example. Fortunately there is plenty to do around London, where I live. I cycle quite a bit, both road and off-road. And of course, I love football. For my sins, I’m an Arsenal supporter.”
Richard Sedgwick can draw a line directly from his early interest in the physical nature of the earth to his passion for the work he does in Technology, Media & Telecommunications. “In university I studied geography,” Richard says. “I enjoyed studying something relevant, something I could see and feel. I began to understand why cities and towns are planned the way they are and why people live where they do. That relevance to the everyday lives of people is similar to what excites me about working within the TMT sector. I do things that have real, tangible results and that brings me a good deal of satisfaction.”