Alex Pearson, who lives in Warwick, 29, manages a team responsible for driving environmental innovation at Jaguar Land Rover, working collaboratively across the business to enhance the environmental performance of the company’s vehicles.  A product design and manufacturing engineer by training, Alex has a master’s in Engineering for Sustainable Development from the University of Cambridge.

“Being selected to join the safe water to schools programme was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me – not only had I never been to Africa, but having worked in the field of sustainability for a number of years, I’ve always felt that companies should act responsibly and invest in the global communities in which they operate. For me, it was critically important to see the impact our investment was delivering and understand how the programme would be managed to deliver sustained impacts for those communities in Kenya that we’d be supporting”.

“After rigorous training with our partners ClimateCare and Vestergaard, we spent an intensive week working side by side with the project team, delivering smart LifeStraw water purifiers to schools across Bungoma – and I was struck by the rigour and the impact of the programme.

“During our time at the schools, in addition to setting up and training people in how to use the filters, we were involved in what will be an ongoing education programme about the importance of safe water. We interviewed head teachers and pupils and used smartphones to collect school data and to register each water purifier, so they can be tracked over time.  The barcodes on each unit means they are fully traceable and the schools are visited every term for a check-up to ensure the technology is being used properly and remains in full working order. That ongoing relationship with each school is important when you’re talking about changing behaviours and encouraging children to filter water so it is safe to drink”.

“Not only did we have the opportunity to see the impact of this programme on the lives of the children in Bungoma, but as importantly this was an opportunity to build new skills and establish relationships with colleagues across Jaguar Land Rover. Our hands-on role means we’ve all established a much stronger connection with the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme and a much deeper understanding of the value acting responsibly to our company and to the communities we work with. It was truly inspiring to see how a team of over 70 people from different backgrounds and with different skills came together so quickly and effectively to achieve a shared common goal. That collaborative approach and focus on achieving common goals is something I’ve taken back to my own job and the team I lead”.

“Now I’m back in the day job, it’s renewed my focus on driving forward environmental innovation and supporting smart technologies to maximise our own sustainability performance.  I’ve shared my experience through company-wide Town Hall presentations and regularly at team meetings. I talk to colleagues about my direct experience, to help them understand why acting as a responsible business is so important and why they too should get involved!”

“Working in a big business means it can sometimes be difficult to see the impact you’re having at work, but through this programme, we directly saw the positive impacts we were creating – both on a personal level and as a company. At times of financial difficulty, CSR is often the first thing to come under scrutiny in many businesses – but this experience made me realise just how important and impactful these CSR investments are –  for our business and our employees, and for the communities we’re supporting too”.

“Ultimately, I want to work for a company that cares not only about its own growth and development, but also understands that to continue to grow it must help the global communities in which it operates to grow and develop sustainably as well. I’m not alone in that; that’s an expectation shared with colleagues and our customers too. I feel that acting responsibly is central to our success as a global business and I’m proud to be part of that”.