International Business and Thought Leader
"We need a new type of leadership, matching the needs of a network-based society."
Marga Hoek is a visionary, international figurehead recognised for her ongoing thought and business leadership on sustainable business and capital. Ms Hoek is an authoritative and inspirational speaker, able to take society’s major challenges at hand and sketch concrete paths to success. Because of her work the Thinkers50 has incorporated her into their 2019 list. She is the author of the award-winning books The Trillion Dollar Shift and New Economy Business as well as numerous articles in magazines such as The Huffington Post, Executive Finance, Salt and G7 Climate Change.
Marga has a strong track record as a business leader. She has been CEO of multiple private and public companies and founded and was CEO of the Dutch Sustainable Business Association until 2016. She holds several international Advisory and Board positions in which she has impact on business, science and capital. She founded Business for Good, a Foundation supporting innovative solutions for the SDGs to scale up. Her positions include Member of the Advisory Council on Responsible Investment of the Bank of Montréal, Chairman of the Sustainable Science Association, Partner of Chairman Mentors International and Vice-Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Mazars Accounting.
Sustainable Business and Capital
Sustainable Development Goals
The Role of Business Leaders for Society
New Markets and Innovation Opportunities
Current CEO and Board Challenges
Global Outlook on Societies and Business’ Challenges
You bring all angles of sustainability together in an amazing way: can you see a day in the near future when sustainability is the default setting for society and business?
Yes, definitely. Imagine that sustainable brands by now grow twice as fast as ‘non sustainable’ brands, that companies that fight climate change perform 20% better than their peers, that investors have discovered that purpose driven companies are a better investment and that already 63% of consumers prefer, even with a slightly higher price, to buy from sustainable companies. So the shift is happening and the speed will grow significantly and quickly – even more so since the next generations; millennials and generation Z, will accelerate this shift. 88% of millennials simply want to work for a purpose-driven company and in 2025, they will account for 75% of the workforce!
At the same time, we progress too little at too little scale. We need to step up and scale up. So this shift is really needed.
How important do you believe strong leadership is to successful business in these ever more challenging times?
Leadership is key. And purpose-driven leadership is still scarce. Most leaders are still too unaware of their impact, the new markets that are simply out there if we are willing to open a new door. And they still do not realise that sustainable leadership means being and feeling responsible for not only your company, not even just your business sector, but the world and society as a whole. We have great examples of leaders that do just that like Feike Sijbesma, Paul Polman and Gerard Mestrallet, but we need many more and successors for them!
How can you convince corporations that doing business for good is actually going to do good for their business?
By making them aware of the new market opportunities, of the business case of sustainable solutions. Let the numbers speak for themselves! I encourage them to make the business case, and to scale it up. I do not say it can be good for their business, I say it must be good for their business!
How can businesses and governments be encouraged to work more closely together to help solve our most pressing social and environmental challenges?
They actually work closely together; developing the SDGs was a joint endeavour for instance. But, the ‘new social contract’ demands a much more intensive and also a ‘wiser’ collaboration. Businesses and governments must be aware both have to work with the bigger picture in mind: adapting tax systems, regulation and public/private partnerships will mean shifting more quickly at a much greater scale.
Carbon tax is one of the major things to achieve; by internalizing externalities sustainable business cases will be in general 45% more profitable as compared to now. Simply, since we do not put a price on our resources and pollution. Government and business need to achieve this change together.
What do you think is the biggest threat facing the global economy today and what can be done to face this and to create opportunities for business?
Poverty, climate change and food are the biggest challenges. And obviously they are intertwined. Climate change hits the poorest people the hardest. And food loss hits the struggling smallholder farmers in developing countries. Private investment accounts for 90%; so the private sector holds the key. If the private sector invests in all business solutions and investments that address the SDGs, we can create a huge shift, very quickly together.
Imagine that our global food waste accounts for over 1/3 of all food produced, meaning over 780 billion dollar a year. At the same time, we need ‘only’ 80 billion a year to feed all. Imagine then that obesity kills more people then hunger does. So you know, this can be solved. Imagine that only two minutes of sunlight equals all the energy used on the planet of two years. So we need only to unlock all the business solutions, making use of that sunlight instead of fossil reserves.
The Trillion Dollar Shift (2018)
The book’s production and the book’s content go hand in hand: in The Trillion Dollar Shift, Hoek sets out to explain how business and capital have the responsibility, and opportunity to create sustainable value, and contribute to the solving of global challenges, using the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework. Working towards these SDGs is not just a goal on its own, by doing so tremendous opportunities and new markets become available. As Hoek states: “Business for good is good business”.
Read a recent article about The Trillion Dollar Shift, highlighting why this book matters so much.
“I firmly believe both business and capital can and should play a significant role in solving our global challenges.”
“Technology is a driving force behind innovation, connectivity and productivity in nearly every sector.”
“In the new economy businesses create ecological, social and financial value.”
“We need a new type of leadership, matching the needs of a network-based society.”
To book Marga Hoek
Ms Hoek is known to be a visionary, but with a close eye on reality. She combines sharing her vision with many concrete examples of exciting business cases throughout the world. Marga can engage and relate with many different audiences, in many different countries and provides the right mix of information, humour and inspiration.