global sustainable development

Turning compliance into purpose

An interview with Marc Roodhuyzen de Vries, Cilia Keser, and Felix Keser, Managing Partners at Nexio Projects

Based in the Netherlands, Nexio Projects is a team of specialists, engineers and consultants who are passionate about facilitating the transition to a more prosperous and sustainable future. Working with a diverse range of clients from around the world, Nexio Projects offers advisory support on sustainability strategy, ESG ratings and certifications, ESG reporting, and climate services such as carbon accounting and lifecycle assessments. Climate Change Review caught up with CEO Marc Roodhuyzen de Vries, Cilia Keser, Head of People and Culture and COO Felix Keser to find out more.

What were the main goals that motivated you to start Nexio Projects?

Nexio Projects was founded with one key goal in mind: to facilitate and accelerate action on the environmental and social issues that companies materially impact. In order to do so, we decided to position ourselves as the partner of choice for mid- sector enterprises, whom we believe have a key role to play in many of the necessary transitions.

To achieve this, we focus on the foundations through which sustainability can be operationalised in organisations. In the same way that a sturdy foundation is necessary for a well-built house, a strong sustainability management system1 is critical to evaluate, manage, and improve sustainability within an organisation. By using the methodology developed by our rating partners EcoVadis and Bcorp and by aligning ourselves with international ESG reporting standards and frameworks, we ensure our clients get the right tools to transition to a future- proof business model. Through this journey, we have matured alongside our 300+ global clients, leading more strategic work and analysis with our clients beyond management systems. The question we are now increasingly asking is: The structure and systems are in place, how do we turn this into action?

Businesses that integrate sustainability principles into decision making are more resilient

Another key motivator for starting Nexio Projects was to disrupt the way traditional consultancies work, while fully walking the walk beyond the support we provide. Nexio Projects is not your typical consultancy: it is an environment for self- development, learning and growth, and we use it to test many of our ideas about what a balanced organisation in a healthy environment should be. As a result, we have developed a culture in which diversity and inclusion are championed. We put the human element at the forefront of everything we do, as it is ultimately behavioural change that will lead to the just transition we seek.

We actively minimise our carbon footprint through efficient workspaces and minimising travel (we operate a consultancy by distance model) and aim to give more to our community and environment than we take from it. Finally, we adhere to the highest current ESG standards, which is shown through our BCorp rating and EcoVadis platinum medal, and always strive to be ahead of the curve when it comes to social and environmental impact. As norms and best practice keep shifting, we are constantly learning how we can support our clients in a better and more impactful way, truly challenging and motivating our community into action.

Why is sustainability so important to you and Nexio Projects?

Very simply, we have no other option. With nearly 30% of the “decade
of action” behind us, change has never been more pressing and although companies, governments and financial markets are moving, it’s still moving too slowly. As three young entrepreneurs leading Nexio Projects, with now a team of over 40 passionate teammates, it is our duty to support organisations on their journey to a more sustainable future, as it is our very own future.

Another reason is that a sustainable business is an inherently thriving business. Businesses that integrate sustainability principles into decision making are more resilient. They can get lower cost of capital as they are less risky investments in the long-term. They also attract and retain the best talent, build customer loyalty and are more competitive by cutting operating costs and inefficiencies. With the wave of voluntary ESG requirements, and now regulations, being imposed on companies (think CSRD in Europe or the SEC rulings in the US), they are also more likely to retain key clients and avoid considerable penalties. In a nutshell, they are preferred by employees, customers, investors and consumers.

Your mission is to “support organisations on their journey from compliance to purpose”. What does this entail?

To answer this in a pragmatic way, we have developed our own version of the sustainability maturity curve (see graph), which we use as a guiding star in our strategic projects. As with personal self-development, transitioning to a more a purpose-driven organisation is an iterative and long-term process. It requires the right strategy, motivation, governance and reporting structures, collaboration and partnerships as well as constant alignment with best-practice standards and methodologies.

To align our mission with our work, we take clients through this journey, highlighting what it takes to get from one part of the curve to the next based on our six pillars of sustainability maturity. Once we identify where our clients are, we support them in developing a comprehensive action roadmap, implementing the practices and mindset needed to get to achieve their sustainability goals – which we hope is to become a purpose-driven organisation, inspired by Polman’s “net positive” concept. To do so, and in line with our core values, we position ourselves as “facilitators” for change in the client’s strategy, rather than an external consultant removed from the counterpart’s struggles and operational pain-points. In partnering with our clients through this journey, we ensure that effective change is embedded in their long-term strategy and in their company values.

Where do you see your company in 5 to 10 years?

Directly speaking, we want to shape the best place to work and be a fully net-positive organisation. If we are truly to advise companies on tackling environmental and social impact head on, we need to be a best practice organisation on all fronts: environmentally, socially, and ethically. As mentioned, we want to continue making Nexio Projects a place where people can fully thrive and bring out their full potential. It is only through this that we can deliver the best work, inspire our customers and drive deep change.

Indirectly, and by achieving the above, we have the ambition to grow our scale and impact. Working with more companies around the world, deepening our expertise and providing the most practical and actionable advice possible. This means international expansion and continuing to look at new partnerships in order to facilitate growth. In the face of the challenges we face and in order to reach the goals we set out to achieve when we launched Nexio Projects, one thing is certain: we will need strong collaboration and partnership in a human and abundant way.

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