How does he manage? Ethical business guru

by Blake Lee-Harwood
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

WHEN DID YOU BECOME A MANAGER?

I was an environmental campaigner for 20 years, for everyone from Friends of the Earth to Greenpeace. Now I'm a sole trader, advising organisations on how they treat the planet and their workers. My work splits 50/50 between corporate clients and NGOs. One half actually pays, the other is a short route to destitution. Larger firms are now employing people to do this internally, and I have a sense I'm training the next generation to make me redundant.

WHAT DOES MANAGEMENT MEAN TO YOU?

You need a really good grasp of the subject. I have to read, go to a lot of events and talk to loads of people to stay on top. But that's what I get paid for. Clients expect me to know the answers there and then. Judging the steps is an art. You have to take businesses as far as they'll go before the cogwheels start flying off the machine.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE/DISLIKE ABOUT YOUR JOB?

I've gone from high to low status in my field. As campaign director for Greenpeace, I'd ring someone up and the call was returned. But as a consultant, I'm one of an army swarming round and businesses try to swat me away. I used to do crazy things like abseiling off buildings and driving powerful boats in the way of enormous ships. By the end I'd spent my emotional capital. This is much more intellectual.

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