CAF Connects Summer 2015

Spotlight on a team member-Janek Seevaratnam

What or who inspires you to get out of bed every morning?

Although it's not something I've always known, I really enjoy problem solving. I love throwing myself into a task with an element of challenge - whether it's  helping a client through a problem; circumventing obstacles with internal stakeholders, or anticipating an issue and steering a slightly different course. Of course, it isn't much fun when you are yet to find a solution!

What is your favourite thing about your role at CAF?

I love the diversity of everyone's professional backgrounds. I've had a quite unconventional career path - starting in the charity sector and moving to management consultancy - but apparently there are just as many other unlikely combinations! Colleagues have worked in the city, in think tanks, in international NGO's, local government, professional services, the list goes on. I feel that being around people with such different perspectives complements and challenges the way I think, whilst all being driven by the same underlying goal.

Where’s the most interesting  place you have travelled to? And why?

I was lucky enough to spend 18 months living and working in Cusco, Peru. I worked in a local social project, focussing on kids' education, in what is a deprived city with a number of social problems. To date, it has been the most formative experience of my life and as an added bonus I was able to visit Machu Picchu four times, which is  undoubtedly the most special place I have visited. After four uncomfortable days trekking through the mountains (which to be fair I only did once!) you arrive in Machu Picchu at dawn, and you're rewarded with something that feels like it exists just for you. The stillness at that time of the morning, with an added eeriness from the mist and the dawn light, gives you an indescribable energy and a tiny insight into what life might have been until the sun burns through the clouds and illuminates Huayna Picchu. The architecture and symbolism (not to mention the panoramic view of the Andes) are stunning, and my trips there all gave me a deep sense of purpose and tranquillity - until the hoards of other tourists arrive mid-morning on the bus.

Interesting fact - Huayna Picchu looks like the profile of an Incan man if you tilt your head to the right at a 90 degree angle. That trick blew my mind! Take a look at this photo to see for yourself.

Who would you invite to a dinner party?

This may sound strange, but this is a question I have asked myself at regular intervals throughout my life. The list has changed over the years, and is now more of a banquet than a dinner party.

Today I’ve chosen to limit myself to people who are alive, so I've gone with:

  • Elon Musk, who I think will be remembered as someone who changed the course of history, particularly because of his attitudes towards sustainable energy
  • David Simon (journalist and creator of The Wire)
  • Charlie Brooker
  • Grayson Perry
  • Blondie's Debbie Harry
  • Comedian Stewart Lee
  • Dame Stephanie Shirley, who has had a fascinating life and was the UK's first Ambassador for Philanthropy
  • Dr Dre, who went from the streets of Compton to selling his Beats headphones to Apple for $3bn
  • Vogue's Anna Wintour
  • my friend Issa, whose passion and dedication to his community in Senegal has had a huge influence on my career; and last but not least
  • my girlfriend, Lucy - which just leaves me to do the dishes!

What corporate responsibility trends do you see emerging?

For me, corporate responsibility is increasingly becoming part of business and has long since moved away from just being a field for 'the big players'. That said, although many responsive companies are uniting their CR activities in an overarching, business-aligned strategy, the leading lights in the space are integrating corporate responsibility into the core of their business.

Whilst not every company will aspire to be a Unilever, recent legislative and behavioural developments (e.g. transparency of supply chains, Sustainable Development Goals, Modern Slavery Act 2015, Zero to Landfill, etc.) mean that there is more of an imperative to fully incorporate corporate responsibility into the way the business operates on a fundamental level - which will in turn ultimately contribute to the bottom line.

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