My own rock star moment

19 September 2013
When I was 14 I wanted to be a rock star. I can’t sing, dance or play an instrument, but this is not necessarily a constraint. But even at 14 I did not look good in tight trousers, which really killed off that career option at an early stage. I settled for a slow climb up the corporate career ladder to senior management, the turgid details of which I will spare you for now. Nearly 40 years after my ambitions were broken like a butterfly on a wheel, two things happened in 2005 that were set to change my life. Firstly, IOC president Jacques Rogge announced on 6 July 2005 that London had been selected to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. My Olympic odyssey is well documented in my blog here. At about the same time the UK government decided to establish a business led sustainable procurement task force and I was invited to get involved. This inspired me to set up Action Sustainability because I felt that procurement people would need some help and maybe even some leadership around this new agenda. By mid-2006 the Task Force had reported its findings and I had launched a new business. By October of the same year I had been appointed chair of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 by then-mayor Ken Livingstone. I had no time or need for a job anymore so I packed it in to take up a solo career.

I wanted Action Sustainability to be different. I set out my vision to my small team of “a business that has six clients at the bleeding edge of best practice, winning awards and kissing babies”. Of course you need more than six clients to have a business but I wanted the pinnacle of my client portfolio to be the best of the best. 11 September 2013 saw the realisation of that vision when our partners in the Supply Chain Sustainability School not only picked up the CSR category in the CIPS Supply Management Awards but also scooped the overall winner prize.

To hear the chair of judges Gerry Walsh refer to “the best of the best” and then to hear we had won the final award of the evening filled me with pride. To share the moment with my colleagues and partners that have supported us so well over the past four years was an honour and a privilege. The School had seven founding partners and now we have 12, and I sincerely hope the award will encourage many more to join. There are 32 businesses in the UK Major Contractors Group and I want them all to join the family. My next date with destiny will be 3 October 2013 when I go along with my family to Windsor Castle to be honoured with an OBE from the Queen for services to sustainability and London 2012. I suspect this will be a more sombre affair than the whooping, high-fiving, man-hugging show in the great room at Grosvenor House that gave me my fleeting rock star moment. ☛ Shaun McCarthy is director of Action Sustainability 
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