Sister publication Sustainability Magazine has revealed its inaugural Top 100 Women in Sustainability list, celebrating not just the ascent of women in the corporate world, but the rising adoption, acceleration, and practice of sustainability worldwide.
“The women featured in this list are extraordinary people whose impact we feel every day and whose work is shaping the future, and our present, as we live in it,” says Sustainability Magazine editor Blaise Hope.
Here, we highlight the top eight women in sustainability in Europe, all of whom hail from a wide range of industries and countries, from Finland and France to Denmark and the UK, and from entertainment and energy to luxury fashion and the financial industry.
1 Mireille Lefebvre
Head of Global Sustainability Communications – Corporate Strategy & Sustainability
Mireille Lefebvre describes herself as a global citizen who speaks English and French, and most importantly, a mother and describes her mission as elevating sustainability for all through the power of brand, marketing and communications.
Certainly, her work has helped Schneider Electric to the top of Sustainability Magazine’s own list of the world’s Most Sustainable Companies, with the France-headquartered company coming out on top of the rankings for a range of sustainability issues, including DE&I and emissions.
At Schneider for nearly four years, as Head of Global Sustainability Communications, Mireille heads both internal and external communications and engagements on corporate sustainability with corporate leaders, employees, investors, journalists, analysts, customers and partners.
Mireille joined Schneider from Signify where she was Global Brand Director, and prior to this, spent seven years as Global Brand Director at Philips Lighting. She also worked in brand marketing at Heineken Lion Australia.
2 Anita Varshney
Global VP, Strategy SAP S/4HANA Sustainability
In her life, not just her career, Anita Varshney supports economic empowerment and education for all and is passionate about sustainable transformation. That suits her role at SAP, where Anita leads successful sustainability management and works to achieve customer success on their ESG ambitions.
During her 15-year career with SAP, Anita has led strategic collaborations, to build an authentic, compelling purpose narrative and bring sustainable innovations, ideas and a road map to the forefront of storytelling. She has worked in both Hong Kong and Singapore, and earlier in her career, led SDG Ambition project in collaboration with UN Global Compact and Accenture, aimed at implementing ambitious business strategies that significantly increase companies’ positive impact on the SDGs.
She kickstarted her career as a process improvement consultant at PwC India and has an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore.
3 Yumi Otsuka
Chief Sustainability Officer
Yumi Otsuka has spent 30 years at Toyota, a leader in hybrid and vehicle electrification, where she has worked her way up the ranks to Chief Sustainability Officer, responsible for executing Toyota’s mission to produce happiness for all as the automaker transforms to a mobility company.
During her three decades at the automaker, Yumi has held managerial roles in product planning and administration departments, before moving into the sustainability department in early 2020 and becoming CSO last year. She has a bachelor’s degree in law and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.
4 Shalini Kapoor
CTO for AI, Climate & Sustainability
A distinguished engineer, innovator and technology strategist with 25 years of experience, Shalini Kapoor has worked at IBM for more than two decades and is the first woman Fellow to come out of IBM India. As IBM’s CTO for AI, climate and sustainability, she leads strategy and thought leadership on AI infusion across all of IBM’s global offerings. As someone known for incubating next-gen solutions, her current focus is on leading AI solutions for climate risk, sustainability, and women in STEM. She holds 14 patents, has published four papers, and is a prolific speaker.
She is passionate about women in tech, believing that diversity and inclusion fuels innovation. She has also been a torchbearer for IBM’s Good Tech projects in India. In 2020, she founded the Equal Council at IBM India Software Labs to create a progressive workplace that fosters creativity, innovation, and inclusion. She is founder of the Ankurit Foundation, a Bangalore-based non-profit dedicated to STEM in youth. Shalini worked for three years with HCL before joining IBM in 2000.
5 Catherine Chan
Head of ESG Coordination Office
During her 18-year career at Tencent, Catherine Chan has emerged as the company’s key communications leader, responsible not just for investor relations and communications, but also for the Chinese tech and media giant’s ambitious ESG policies.
Catherine first joined Tencent in 2003 to help the company prepare for its IPO, and since that success, has steered the company’s global communications agenda, moving into the ESG leadership role in 2021. Catherine previously worked at BASF as the Head of Regional Corporate Communications. She earned a Master’s in International Relations at the University of Birmingham and an Executive MBA from the Kellogg School of Management.
6 Siobhan Toonhill
Group Head of Sustainability
Siobhan Toonhill is a corporate sustainability pioneer, who, throughout her nearly two-decade-long career has helped large businesses manage sustainability risks, create significant positive impact, collaborate with peers and engage with diverse stakeholders, and be recognised for global sustainability leadership.
As sustainability lead at Stockland for seven years, she established the Group‘s sustainability function, and under her tenure, Stockland ranked #1 most sustainable real estate group (DJSI). Siobhan joined Westpac in 2013, as CSO, a role she has served for nine years, and within 18 months, the company regained its #1 DJSI position, which it maintained for four consecutive years.
A graduate architect, Siobhan spent a number of years in urban design, including as a lecturer in the subject, before moving into corporate responsibility and sustainability. She is co-chair, Banking Board, for the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). She has a degree in science, and a degree in architecture from the University of Sydney, and is certified by Deakin University in advanced risk management.
7 Lavanya Shrinagesh
VP & Global CSR & Diversity & Inclusion Leader
With more than 18 years of experience across hiring, HR and learning and development. Lavanya Shrinagesh is a talent development specialist recognised for her team management and training skills. She specialises in creating hiring tools that map to job competencies, building learning and development plans to bridge the skill gap.
As Global CSR and D&I leader for Genpact India since 2017, Lavanya is pursuing her passion of corporate social responsibility, leading programs that harness the energy and talent of the 70,000 employees for the economic, social and environmental betterment of communities. As D&I leader, she is involved in steering initiatives to create a gender-balanced organisation with 50% representation of women across all levels.
Prior to her current role, Lavanya designed and implemented Genpact’s Contact Center Eco System. After joining GET as a trainer aged 19, she continued to develop her career working in the luxury retail and education sector.