Tell us a bit about your background. Where are you from, and where are you based?
I live in Copenhagen with my husband Lars and daughter Sóphia, but I was born in Brest, Belarus, with Siberian Greek and Ukrainian Jewish heritage.
Growing up, I spent most of my time with my grandparents. My Siberian grandma, Claudia, taught me to bake Chinese dumplings and Russian pierogi (traditional baked bread with filling), and my Ukrainian-Jewish grandpa, Semyon, taught me to sing. My other grandpa, Ivan, a Kossak from Volga, was a navy officer and he taught me to fight, and from my maternal grandma, Nadya, I learned to laugh, no matter what happens.
All four of them taught me to value life—three out of four of my grandparents relocated to Belarus after the Second World War, having lost many people they loved to the war and famine. My childhood was very much colored not only by their love but also by their sad memories of the loved people lost, which made me aware of the importance of peace. Today, I am reminded about the importance of peace, democracy, and respect for human rights once again, too close to home and too close to the people I have known and loved throughout my life. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and its effect on the world cut a very deep wound, which shows once again the fragility of sustainable progress and its dependence on a just society, and so I decided to join BSR, and to live my passion 100 percent.
How did you first get involved in sustainable business? How long have you been at BSR? What is your current role, and what does that entail?
I have been working in sustainability since 2010 and started leading BSR’s Nordics practice in August 2022. In my mind, people in BSR have always been associated with some kind of magic—bringing people together around important issues, openly and honestly in a way that sparks collaboration. I think it has always been a love at first sight, but it took me years to summon up the courage and join in! I deeply share the passion for our vision of a just, sustainable and peaceful world.
My current role entails connecting large Nordic companies with their peers around the world by providing access to cross-sector collaborations as well as the latest social and environmental practices and expertise. It is safe to say that my colleagues are an incredible source of inspiration. It’s hard work, because the world is in dire straits and knowing you can help make things better makes it hard to say I have done enough for today, and we are all united by a burning desire to make a lasting, positive difference by working with our members.
What are some interesting projects that you get to work on as part of your role at BSR? What do you enjoy about them?
I enjoy finding answers to important questions, such as: “How can this company benefit the world through its services and products? Who can they collaborate with? What does a just future for this industry look like? What transformation is called for?” The members we work with are very knowledgeable and discerning, but the challenges are many and often systemic. There is no tunnel vision in sustainability work, and so I love bringing our members together for a good conversation.
We just celebrated BSR’s 30th anniversary with events in New York, Paris, Tokyo, and London. It is a truly rewarding experience to know that some of our members have worked with us for thirty years! At the London BSR event a young poet, Awa Ndiaye, asked us about what it is that each of us “pours into the fire.” It’s a very personal question, but this is what this work is about, and I think that’s what makes it so right for me.