Jochen Gassner, Global Director of Business Development and Key Account Management, and René Groot Bruinderink, Head of Climate Solutions for the Netherlands
South Pole recently welcomed two noteworthy individuals in the European sustainability space. We sat down to learn more from Jochen Gassner, Global Director of Business Development and Key Account Management, and René Groot Bruinderink, Head of Climate Solutions for the Netherlands about what they are bringing to the company, the role that Europe and the Netherlands have to play, and how they expect South Pole to grow.
Where are you coming from prior to joining South Pole?
Jochen: I was working for one of South Pole's main competitors in the voluntary carbon market for the last 14 years, even acting as CEO there… but with the market evolving as it has been in the last year even, there is unprecedented opportunity and you really need a large, entrepreneurial team with a wide breadth of experience to fully take advantage of it, which is what prompted my decision to come to South Pole.
René: I have always worked in the energy transition area as a management or sustainability consultant. The concept of South Pole's Climate Journey is therefore not so new to me, and it captures quite well exactly what companies need to do. It's familiar territory for me to be starting off with, and I'm looking forward to expanding South Pole's climate solutions consulting business.
And where do you see the greatest potential so far in enhancing what we do?
René: South Pole has very much focused on the carbon credit market, which is is how we have become such a leader there. But to support companies on their Climate Journey it's essential to become a trusted partner and engage with companies on a multi-year basis, making it that much easier to help them with steps they need to take from the beginning all the way to the end. That can mean everything from GHG accounting and science-based target setting to helping companies set up their own in-house sustainability teams. But it doesn't stop there. Improved digital solutions for smaller companies, integrating climate action across the supply chain, adapting to and identifying opportunities from climate-related risks.... the list goes on!
Jochen: I have to agree with René, there are so many areas that we are developing and could talk about that we could be here all day! But I think the main message is that this is really a time of opportunity, where companies are now expected or even required by investors to build climate and climate risk into the core of their business strategies, and we are here as well-established, global experts to work with them to define these strategies.
Jochen, you mention that we're a global company, and we have almost 600 staff in 19 offices now. But you each also have quite a bit of experience in specific regions. What role does Europe or the Netherlands specifically have to play when it comes to global climate efforts?
Jochen: Europe is the 3rd largest economy globally. This is a great place to start! If we take just European emissions, however, eliminating these is not going to save the climate. But Europe has a strong industrial base with a strong engineering pedigree and a history of piloting solutions, and so I see a strong role for Europe and specific countries within Europe for piloting the way to climate neutrality and becoming net zero nations, or a net zero continent, which will serve as a strong example for economies in transition that will really make the pivotal difference.
René: The sustainability market in the Netherlands is quite mature, and most companies already find themselves in the middle of the current. Consumer goods have been leading the way for some time, and our heavy industries will be going through major transformations. Echoing what Jochen said, I think the Netherlands stands as a solid example to other countries, which is why South Pole has been amplifying its presence here, although to be honest we are coming to the market here relatively late. The key differentiator, however, is that we demonstrate concrete climate impact with our upstream project portfolio; this means that we can not only offer solid advice to companies, but also direct solutions and tangible climate impact.
South Pole just set its own net zero target for 2030 as an example for our clients. If we fast forward to that point in the future, how else do you think the company will have differentiated itself?
Jochen: South Pole is planning truly exponential growth right now, and I think that will translate into an exponential boost in the impact we can offer to clients. It's as simple as that really, and after being inside the company for several weeks now I see no reason why we won't realize the ambitious goals we've set for ourselves and for helping our clients realize truly fundamental changes.
René: For me, one of the most impressive things about South Pole over its 15 year history is the commitment and dedication of the founders, which really sets it apart as a company with integrity and a unique truthfulness in the industry. In 2030 I hope and expect that South Pole will still be called South Pole rather than changing its name through rebranding or mergers, and that the founders continue to be active in the company. I expect that we will further grow upon our strong foundation in the Netherlands, and that we are truly a one stop shop not only for large multinationals, but for local heroes, family businesses, and for all sorts of ambitious companies that work with South Pole on the important steps of their Climate Journey.