Meet Concerto TIC, an organisation that helps businesses realise their sustainability goals
FOUNDED IN JUNE 2019, CONCERTO TIC
works with organisations to identify their current and potential economic, environmental and social impact across their value chain and supports them to embrace sustainability under the umbrella of the Sustainable Development Goals. Concerto TIC uses a comprehensive methodology of tailored frameworks, strategies and tools which enable a step-by-step transformation towards long-term organisational growth.
Impact sits at the core of Concerto TIC, as it aims to accelerate progress towards global and local development agendas by enabling sustainable practices and rewiring business models. It is all about supporting business leaders and encouraging them to adopt the mind-set of impact and defining performance indicators which don’t only focus on the financial returns, but also on the advancement of societies and environmental preservation.
Concerto TIC also supports impact-oriented organisations, such as social enterprises, in developing impact tracking and reporting tools which enable their growth and drives further value for their stakeholders.
Alex Gheordanescu has always been curious about how businesses can work in an ethical way and be sustainable. Holding key positions across diversified industries, he understands how success is defined and driven across all levels. Working in the UAE market for over a decade, his work includes stints at IHG’s MENA loyalty programmes, leading Emaar’s Group Loyalty marketing strategies and launching the Emirates NBD ‘U By Emaar’ Visa credit card.
A strategic thinker with entrepreneurship at the core of his heart, he works alongside his wife Mihaela Nina in inspiring and empowering regional businesses via sustainable and ethical practices.
What is Concerto TIC’s mission and who does the company serve?
Through Concerto TIC (The Impact Company) part of Augmentation X, our aim is to enable our partners future proof their business models by integrating impact performance indicators within their strategies. We work with public and private organisations, ranging from start-ups, where our focus is social enterprises, SMEs and corporates and equip them with the knowledge and tools to maximise their performance by looking at their strategies through the lens of impact, in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals. At the core of Concerto TIC sits a thoroughly developed methodology which supports us bridge the knowledge gap between the current business as usual and sustainable, future-ready models.
What made you decide to go into the field of sustainability?
Despite the existence of a strong business case for sustainability, which clearly demonstrates the link to an organisation’s financial performance, many business leaders often don’t have the in-house resources or knowledge to implement it. Moreover, sustainability is frequently interpreted differently with multiple terms and frameworks which often are not based on different business models. We knew that we had a unique opportunity to change the current ecosystem and so Mihaela Nina and I brought to the table our combined experience in business mechanics, commercial viability, revenue growth and sustainable impact.
Why is it important for businesses to consider sustainability when it comes to their business practices?
This is such an important aspect to address. Historically, sustainability has been associated with CSR initiatives, such as volunteering or donations, environmentalism such as plastic reduction or paperless offices, just to name a few. Although these are indeed some of the areas addressed by sustainability, there is more to it. A sustainable business is one which addresses all impact areas and aims to drive value for all it interacts with, which on the economic impact side means jobs creation, revenue generation, wages, GDP contribution for instance. It encompasses a solid governance structure that looks at the integrity and ethics of an organisation and an analysis of risks and opportunities across the social and environmental impact areas, which can be health, wellbeing, basic needs, accessibility, inclusion, human rights, water scarcity, climate change, pollution, food waste. As per the why behind a sustainable business model, just take
as an example the garments industry. If an organisation has its final product manufactured in high-risk areas for unethical employee practices this will eventually come back and directly impact the business reputation and respectively brand equity. So besides just being the right thing to do, there is a clear link between business continuity and sustainability.
What are some of the major trends you’re noticing in regards to sustainability?
Business sustainability is increasingly becoming part of the agenda of companies from all over the world. We have 10 years for SDGs to be achieved and large corporations have demonstrated growth and performance as soon as they started to implement sustainability. If we look at recent statistics, more than 71 percent of interviewed organisations are planning to take action.
Moreover, let’s not forget that the main catalyser for this comes from consumers’. More than 78 percent seek out sustainable products or services. The next generation prioritises impact and with them becoming the purchasing power, organisations will need to adapt.
What factors go into developing a corporate strategy for sustainability?
If I were to summarise a sustainability strategy, it would include leadership, foundation and integration. Sustainability starts at the top and is cascaded within the culture of an organisation, where everyone becomes part of this journey. Part of our role is to develop this within the organisations we work with. The foundation is then established on the basis of the businesses ambition and a principled analysis of the business model and value chain. This is a crucial step in ensuring the right framework and methodology is used to create a sustainability strategy. And lastly and the most complex stage is the integration through a tailored system which fits the respective organisation.
How can a business incorporate a sustainable strategy that will ensure a major impact?
For a comprehensive sustainability strategy that will evolve with the organisation and support its performance, an organisation needs to take a holistic approach across the entire value chain. The first step is to ensure the right mechanism is in place to identify the impact, take the right actions and track progress. Otherwise, it will be like saying that we want to achieve X in profits, but we have no commercial strategy, nor are we monitoring our expenses.
What are the common misconceptions that most businesses have about sustainability?
The challenge with CSR programmes is that they normally are a satellite to a business model and are mostly means of giving back, rather than sustainability which is supposed to be an integrated strategy. Another aspect is that sustainability is often perceived as a marketing tool and although sustainability does connect you to your audience, we have seen plenty of claims which are unrealistic and only aim to position the organisation in a good light. However, this has started to change, with conscious investors, entrepreneurs, professionals and consumers
starting to change the narrative and define the correct meaning of sustainability.
What does the future look like for sustainability among businesses, especially small businesses?
Sustainable business models are actually the future. The pace of change which we experience in terms of how the ecosystem looks at value creation and how businesses conduct themselves is exponential. If we look at organisations such as Unilever, Pepsi, Microsoft and businesses in investment and asset management, they all are geared towards sustainable models. With this and with consumers becoming more conscious, small businesses need to transition towards balancing and driving a positive impact on all areas, economic, social and environmental. Otherwise, they will be left behind.
In what ways do you believe sustainability will grow and develop in the region?
In the region, we have a great model in which sustainable development is driven from the top. The 2030 vision of both the UAE and
Saudi Arabia both have sustainability as main pillars, with leadership driving them. If we add consumer demand for sustainable products and services, and employees seeking purposeful organisations, we have a movement which urges businesses to take action. This is partly due to the efforts the UAE has made in creating awareness on sustainability. With SDGs coming into place in 2015, we have seen more and more sustainability initiative adoption by companies.
What’s the best advice you could give business owners regarding business sustainability?
Whether it is about stabilising current business performance or growing, look into sustainability and how it can enable your long-term vision. The right timing for this is now and the great part is that when you compare the initial cost to the outcomes of an integrated sustainability strategy, the ROI proves the business case. Concerto
TIC aims to offer support to organisations in establishing the right sustainability strategy.