Case Study

Jennie McGuirk
Creative Director & Design Strategist at Sunrise Brands

Why did you choose to educate and train yourself? How does this fit into your sustainability strategy?

I’ve been working in the sustainability field for some time and have gathered knowledge through my own passion for the subject, through specific project research and through the pioneers and innovators with whom I have collaborated. I was seeking a more formal education specific to the fashion sector, and the relevance of SFA’s course was exactly what I was looking for. I was especially drawn to the fact that the course spans the whole product lifecycle, as I fully understand the need for a holistic approach.

A big part of my career has been dedicated to intrapreneurship, researching within a company or brand, identifying areas that need to evolve and working on bespoke creative solutions. I see the power of information and innovation in the conscious fashion world and recognised the SFA course as a perfect opportunity to further educate my colleagues, our vendors, our customers, and of course, myself.

How many colleagues from your company participated, and what was the response to the education and training?

I am evaluating the course for my company, so am officially the only person enrolled. However, throughout the course I was prompted to instigate conversations with various departments, so through this interaction we have been learning together. All feedback was very positive and they now have a heightened awareness about options and alternatives.

What have the benefits of the training been?

I now have more of an understanding of how each part of the product lifecycle affects the overall sustainability goals and the training has given me a better idea of how to move forward with internal conversations. In terms of cost effectiveness, this has been an incredibly valuable education process and I know that I will continue to apply the acquired knowledge for years to come.

I am thoroughly inspired by all the different case studies and it is enlightening to learn more about influential people who are already making huge changes throughout the industry.

How important is leadership when integrating sustainability into your business, and for transforming the industry? What does leadership mean to you?

Good leadership is essential as it is the guiding light. Leaders need to ensure that there is a general understanding and agreement of the matters at hand, in order to integrate sustainability into the business model.

This can’t just be reserved to a single person or department; it has to be a company-wide push. Everyone needs to work together to do his or her bit to effect change throughout the entire supply chain. Therefore leadership is about having vision, inspiring colleagues, recognising and forging a pathway and setting an example. It’s about seeing the bigger picture, understanding the possibilities as well as the constraints, and being able the navigate solutions that work for the health of the business, environment, workforce and society as a whole.

What advice do you have for other companies planning to engage, educate or train their staff on sustainability topics?

It’s so important to make sustainability relevant to your staff’s everyday, rather than perceiving it as an additional consideration – sustainability needs to be viewed and embraced as an integral part of everyone’s roles.

Empower your staff to see that they are internal agents of change. Try to make training as fun as possible and think about ways to offer tangible rewards for any progress made. Last but not least, hire people who are passionate about sustainable design thinking.

What advice do you have for other companies now planning to get the most of the SFA Sustainability Fundamentals course and SFA’s services overall?

The more time you can allocate to the course the better, as there is a wealth of information to be enjoyed. It’s so well structured, very digestible and the wider reading supports the core curriculum in an engaging way.

Carefully nominate key staff members from each department for a well-informed workforce.

Is there anything else that stands out about your SFA training experience that was helpful and you would like to share?

There is something very exciting and encouraging about the global nature of this course. As a student, I could really feel that I was participating with a large, international network of likeminded collaborators.

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