to leave a pos­i­tive

Do­ing well by do­ing good ‘We all con­sciously seek ways

Finweek English Edition - - PEOPLE -

COR­PO­RATE SUS­TAIN­ABIL­ITY is a phrase with many mean­ings and many forms of ex­pres­sion. It in­volves or­gan­i­sa­tions tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for the im­pact of their ac­tiv­i­ties on all stake­hold­ers, as well as the en­vi­ron­ment. Cor­po­rate sus­tain­abil­ity is syn­ony­mous with cor­po­rate sur­vival.

Sur­pris­ingly, that mes­sage isn’t get­ting through to many CEOs. Deb­bie Meyer, CEO of tourism op­er­a­tor &Be­yond, isn’t one of them. “As the world be­comes more crowded and peo­ple’s lives get faster and fuller, the peace and tran­quil­lity of the nat­u­ral world be­come an in­creas­ing at­trac­tion,” she says. “It is cru­cial to en­sure im­pacts on nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ments are min­imised.”

Meyer was ap­pointed CEO at &Be­yond (pre­vi­ously called Con­ser­va­tion Cor­po­ra­tion Africa, or CC Africa) in Au­gust last year af­ter join­ing the com­pany as chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer in 2008. &BE­YOND owns and op­er­ates 46 lux­ury lodges and camps in South Africa, Namibia, Zim­babwe, Botswana, Tan­za­nia, Kenya and In­dia. The com­pany is jointly owned by the Einthovens of Hol­lard fame and the Getty fam­ily, based in Bri­tain.

“We op­er­ate a high-yield, low-im­pact model by cre­at­ing very small lux­ury lodges that can sup­port enor­mous tracts of bio­di­verse land,” Meyer says.

“Even though &Be­yond has un­der 450 bed­rooms, it sup­ports over 2m acres of pre­cious wildlife land, with each lodge cham­pi­oning our phi­los­o­phy of giv­ing more and tak­ing less. Sus­tain­abil­ity at &Be­yond is all about cre­at­ing a com­pany that can show mean­ing­ful and last­ing ben­e­fits for the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ments that sur­round its op­er­a­tions. We’re do­ing well by do­ing good.

“We’re com­mit­ted to land, wildlife and peo­ple by look­ing for ways to con­trib­ute and give more to those spa­ces, but also be­lieve it can re­duce its im­pact on nat­u­ral re­sources with­out com­pro­mis­ing our guest ex­pe­ri­ence,” she says. “Through pos­i­tive guest en­coun­ters (some of which are peo­ple with huge in­flu­ence and re­sources) my team and I try to pro­mote a greater con­scious­ness of the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of man­ag­ing the wildlife and nat­u­ral re­sources, demon­strat­ing they can be con­served on a sus­tain­able ba­sis.”

It was that phi­los­o­phy that at­tracted Meyer to the po­si­tion. While hol­i­day­ing at one of the lodges with her fam­ily, she re­alised she was ready for a change – po­ten­tially a more so­cially re­spon­si­ble one – and ap­plied for the job.

Meyer joined &Be­yond af­ter a 15-year stint at the Tsebo Out­sourc­ing Group (orig­i­nally, the Fedics Group), the last nine years as its CFO. She was one of the youngest fe­male CFOs of a Top 200 JSE-listed com­pany in 1999 at the age of 34. Be­fore that she was com­mer­cial di­rec­tor at Fedics Food Ser­vices, fi­nan­cial man­ager at Fedics Group Pur­chas­ing and Drake & Scull and headed var­i­ous projects within its travel and fi­nance di­vi­sions. She also served as com­pany sec­re­tary and was a di­rec­tor of sub­sidiaries Fedics, Drake & Scull and Wiessen­hof Cof­fee Roast­ery.

Meyer’s fel­low board mem­bers and col­leagues agree she’s brought sig­nif­i­cant ex­per­tise with re­gard to group and fi­nan­cial strat­egy and di­rec­tion, group risk, le­gal, share­holder in­ter­face and over­all cor­po­rate gov­er­nance to her role at &Be­yond. As a qual­i­fied char­tered ac­coun­tant she’s played a lead­ing role in ac­qui­si­tions, dis­pos­als and fi­nan­cial re­struc­tur­ing and has also been called upon to ful­fil func­tions within

Born: Grew up: Cur­rently lives: Mar­i­tal sta­tus: Chil­dren:

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