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The first 25 years

SustainAbility in Brief: When Julia Hailes and I co-founded SustainAbility in 1987, with initial help from Tom Burke, we literally spent years spelling the name to people--who had never heard the word before. At some level, then, we could declare victory in 2012, the year SustainAbility celebrates its 25th anniversary, since the word seems to be virtually ubiquitous, but my sense is that the game is only just now beginning. A SustainAbility-eye view of SustainAbility's history to date can be found here.

2012 Update: For a retrospective on 2011, see here. For a sense of what SustainAbility is now working on, take a look here.

Older Content (dating from early 2008): After two years as Chief Entrepreneur, 2008 saw see me adding a new set of opportunities, challenges and responsibilities to my portfolio as we launch a new organisation, Volans Ventures. In the midst of all this, I remain 100% dedicated to SustainAbility’s success. I remain a member of the company’s Board and a major shareholder. In addition, I am also contracted to work with SusatinAbility for two days a week.

I see SustainAbility as the mothership now headed along a reasonably clear course into the future, whereas Volans is more akin to a scoutship—pushing out into unmapped territory. We will continue to work closely together in such areas as our Skoll Foundation-funded work on social entrepreneurship, for example, and on Pharma Futures. For progress reports, please keep an eye on this Journal and its equivalent on the Volans website.

The boys in Brazil
Tabled at People’s Hall: An early picture of the SustainAbility team
Henry Moore
Conversations: One of the best things I ever did at SustainAbility was to form the Council, initially to keep Julia (Hailes) in the frame when she stood down as a Director—then, later, the Faculty. For me, this shot of a break during a meeting of the SustainAbility core team and Council at the Royal Society of Arts caught one of the organisation’s great strengths—the parallel, intertwined conversation
Time Capsule
Work, rest and punting: Seb (Beloe) on his cell phone while Jodie (Thorpe) and Judy (Kuszewski) pole or paddle the punt. This was during a rather competitive punt race towards the end of an away day in Oxford. Typically, I can’t recall who won.
Time Capsule
Curiosity: Never stop asking questions (with Maggie Brenneke at a SustainAbility party). Hat decorations by Sam Lakha.
Time Capsule
Geoff (Lye) and I: He put SustainAbility on a sound business footing, I read the magazines.
Time Capsule
Succession: Sophia (Tickell) took over from me as SustainAbility’s Chair in 2005 and Mark (Lee) became CEO—part of our plans for succession. My sincere thanks to them both for enabling both the launch of Volans and the further evolution of SustainAbility.

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