Abosede George-Ogan is an emerging tri-sector leader with over 12 years’ experience working across the non-profit, private and public sectors as a development professional. She began a career in development over a decade ago with ActionAid International Nigeria and now leads Corporate Citizenship for Samsung Electronics West Africa.
Ms. George-Ogan has a degree in Political Science/Public Administration from Igbinedion University and an MSc in Communication for Innovation and Development from the University of Reading.
In line with our Susty Business Series, we thought it right to bring in someone who is actually leading some form of business sustainability in a top multi-national organisation. Read Mrs Abosede’s very articulate interview below:
How does it feel being recognized as one of the top CSR practitioners in Nigeria?
For as long as I can remember, all I ever wanted to do was change the world and make a difference. I am opportuned to be able to build a career that allows me to do that on a daily basis and I do not take it for granted. So when over a decade later, I am recognized, I am humbled and inspired to keep going.
In celebrating the CSR Awards 2015 for Best Company in Youth-Focused CSR, what is the success story from your position?
Our Corporate Citizenship vision is to ‘use innovation to create a better society’ and we have identified that investing in the Nigerian youth is one of the best ways to achieve this. Being recognized for it is just a confirmation that we are on the right track.
In line with having a personal sustainability action, what do you do on your own to promote sustainability/Sustainable living?
I recently started organizing trainings and using social media as a platform to advocate sustainability and personal social responsibility. I do this as the #dogoodadvocate and what I aim to achieve is to demystify the concepts of development, sustainability and corporate responsibility to the layman. I believe this is very important because we need a critical mass if we are going to make a difference. And I think more people will have personal sustainability action goals if they had a proper understanding of what the implication of their action or inaction is; before they can become socially or environmentally conscious enough in a way that is promotes sustainable living. So while I try to practice sustainable living through recycling and a few other activities; I take the most pride in educating and enlightening people to do the same hoping we can have more impact together.
What kinds of sustainable projects does your company have planned for the future?
We are a technology company so innovation is at the core of what we do. All we seek is to use this core competency and capability we have to improve society and create a better future for people. We will continue to do this in four core areas namely: Education, Healthcare, Skills for Employability and Environment. Also, in line with the SDGs, there is a deliberate effort now to align our business operations, activities and contributions in a way they are in harmony with people, society and the environment.
What are your thoughts on the role of CSR in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals?
The way I see it, the goals provide a global framework which every organization should align with. I say this because if you study the challenges we have in society which often determines what a Company’s CSR focus area is; they are all issues that have been captured within the 17 Goals. So using the SDGs as a framework ensures that the organization is working towards clear targets with specific indicators that can be tracked and measured over time. It also amplifies the efforts of that organization as it contributes to a global agenda.
What are your favorite SDGs and Why?
I think all the goals are very important and there is a good reason why they are stand alone goals so I do not have a favorite one but I definitely think Goal 1 (No Poverty) and Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) are very key to the success of all the other goals and achieving the impact we hope the goals will have on humanity.
Is Samsung big on CSR or business Sustainability?
You can’t really talk about these topics in isolation of one another. As a business, we believe that we can provide positive value for the world through sustainability, complemented by our various Corporate Citizenship initiatives which focus on education, skills for employability, environment and healthcare. Our strategy is to fulfill social needs and contribute to improving corporate value at the same time. And rather than think that carrying out social responsibility activities and doing business are mutually exclusive, we are examining KPIs in sustainability management and continuously setting strategies based on the results; so that our social considerations are simply embedded in all our business processes. One of the ways we are currently doing this as a global corporate citizen, is drawing inspiration from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and we continuously work to align our initiatives with this framework.
How has Samsung helped to control the global amount of E-Waste produced annually?
Samsung is committed to conducting and communicating activities at both strategic and operational levels of the company; to preserve the environment. These activities span across our facilities, the workplaces of our suppliers, and our local communities worldwide. We also strictly adhere to our Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) policies regarding environmental issues related to our facilities and employees.
Samsung is also committed to constantly improving energy efficiency and recyclability as well as reducing hazardous substances in through an eco-design process and eco-rating system which evaluates the eco-friendliness of all products throughout their life cycle.From 2009 to 2015, we have collected a total of 2.26 million tons of electronic waste for recycling. We have also achieved an eco-product development rate of 74% in 2015 and hope to increase that to 90% by 2020. We fulfill all related global environmental regulations for products and strive towards higher standards through voluntary agreements and labels; to provide our customers with an increasing number of quality eco-products.
How would Samsung work with young people to achieve the SDGs?
Samsung focuses on four key pillars: Education, Health, Environment and Skills for employability and our target beneficiaries across these pillars are often young people. Samsung believes that when people are healthy and educated, they can become active participants in the economy. We have seen this happen time and again through the innovative solutions we have developed for Africa.
Some of these programs where the youth participate and benefit include our Solar Powered Internet Schools, Smart Schools and E-Learning Centers, and Solar Powered Health Centres which provide underserved communities with access to world-class technology that gives them the information and care they need to live better, healthier lives.
We also provide African youth with skills and knowledge that increase their employment opportunities through the Samsung Engineering Academy. There are 2 of these Academies in Nigeria with about 200beneficiaries to date. We hope to have more targeted involvement with the youth as we align our contribution to the SDGs.
What do you advice young people desirous of a career like yours?
I will encourage them to seek knowledge and an opportunity to practice as well. When I started my career, there were not too many opportunities for formal learning in this area but that has changed tremendously today. Let me point out that there are also a lot of free resources and case studies available now so it does not have to be paid knowledge.
In addition to that, I will advise them to start early by volunteering for non-profit organizations or getting involved in public social activities. It is still a small industry and not very many professionals so building a network is also important to have access to people who can guide them along the way.
What is that one thing about you that not a lot of people know about?
Ok, I know you asked one thing but permit me to share a few. I was born in Kano, lived in Kaduna for the first few years of my life before we moved to Lagos. My Dad is a Yoruba Muslim and my Mum an Igbo Christian so I speak Yoruba and Igbo and oh! I married a Rivers man. I want people to know this because I am genuinely desensitized along ethnic, religious, tribal and/or racial lines and this experience makes it difficult for me to just put labels on people without giving them a chance to prove themselves. With the current challenges the world faces fueled by religious, racial and social disparity; I wish everyone had my point of view.
How can people reach you to learn more about your work?
I can be reached through the following platforms:
Email: [email protected]