Lubomila Jordanova is a cleantech force of nature. A passionate founder, leader and connector of people. I’ve enjoyed working with Lubomila via the Greentech Alliance, and seen how she has built and raised funds for the innovative Plan.A Earth platform, and transitioned the business during Covid. She has a great story and energy, and was delighted to be able to share that on the podcast.
About Lubomila Jordanova:
Lubomila Jordanova is the founder and CEO of PlanA.Earth, a Berlin-based startup developing an end-to-end platform that enables companies to measure, monitor and reduce their environmental footprint and improve their ESG performance. She is also the co-founder of the Greentech Alliance, a community of 500+ startups which are connected to over 350+ advisors from VC, media and business, who help them monthly with advice and feedback. Prior to Plan A, she worked in investment banking, venture capital and fintech in Asia and Europe. She was recently announced as Marshall Fund Fellow for 2021 and 100 Top Women in Germany 2020.
Plan A is an end-to-end platform that lets companies measure, monitor and reduce their environmental footprint and improve their ESG performance. PlanA.Earth empowers enterprises to manage their company sustainably by transforming environmental insights into positive business results. The firm has been recognised by the President of the European Commission as a key player in the field.
The product calculates company emissions through automated data collection processes, removing the need for cross-department data collection hassle. It then monitors emissions over time, allowing the client to understand their progress and see how they compare to industry benchmarks. Finally, the product creates tailored action plans and automated, custom recommendations blending reduction and compensation that help businesses take action. The product visualizes results, progress, and action steps in one coherent company dashboard, and offers exportable non-financial reports that clients can publish per governmental or investor request.
- Lubomila Jordanova on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ljordanova/
- PlanA.Earth Website: https://plana.earth/
- PlanA.Earth on Twitter https://twitter.com/planaearth?lang=en
- Lubomila Jordanova on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LubomilaJ
- PlanA.Earth on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/planaearth/
- PlanA.Earth on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/planaearth
- PlanA.Earth on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/planaearth/
About Hyperion Executive Search:
Hyperion are a specialist executive search firm working with some of the most innovative cleantech companies in the world, helping to find extraordinary talent to enable their growth and success. Partnering with leading cleantech VCs, as well as directly with founders and entrepreneurs in the sector. With our clients we are transforming business and growing a strong and prosperous cleantech economy.
If you want to grow your team, or move forward your career, visit www.hyperionsearch.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Softbank, Demeter and Coparion invest $3m into plan as b2b carbon-monitoring and ESG platform https://techcrunch.com/2021/03/09/softbank-demeter-and-coparion-invest-3m-into-plan-as-b2b-carbon-monitoring-and-esg-platform/
- Jane Goodall – Biography https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Goodall
- Sustainababble Podcast – http://www.sustainababble.fish/
Follow us online, write a review (please) or subscribe
I’m very keen to hear feedback on the podcast and my guests, and to hear your suggestions for future guests or topics. Contact via the website, or Twitter.
If you do enjoy the podcast, please write a review on iTunes, or your usual podcast platform, and tell your cleantech friends about us. That would be much appreciated.
David Hunt 0:31
Hello, I’m David Hunt, CEO and founder of Hyperion executive search and your host for the leading clean tech podcast. I hope you’re safe. And well, we have another great guest for you this week. But before I introduce her, I’d just like to share with you that the team at Hyperion executive search are looking to expand our teams in Germany and the US in particular. So if you are an outstanding executive search professional or you know one, please do let me know. Our board C suite and mid to senior teams are all busy and growing. So please do reach out if that’s of interest or if you know somebody that for whom it could be. Now once my guests I’m delighted to be joined by Luba mila yarnover, CEO and founder of planet Earth Berlin based startup developing an end to end platform that enables companies to measure, monitor and reduce their environmental footprint and improve their ESG performance. She’s also the co founder of the green tech Alliance, a community of 500 plus startups which are connected to over 350 advisors from VCs medium business, who help them with monthly advice and feedback. And I’m very happy to be one of those advisors. Prior to plan a, she worked in investment banking, venture capital and FinTech in Asia and in Europe. She was recently announced this Marshall fund fellow for 2021 and one of the top 100 women in Germany 2020. She’s a Forbes 30 under 30 alumni for 2020. an all round great background, which I’m sure we’ll dive into right now and share some of the thoughts experiences and what she’s been up to and what she’s looking to achieve. I hope you enjoy the episode. Hello, and welcome to the leaves and cleantech podcast luvabella.
Lubomila Jordanova 2:06
Hi, David, it’s a pleasure.
David Hunt 2:08
It’s been a while but it’s good to have you with us. It’s fair to say it’s been a pretty dynamic year for you already with growth investment. And there’s lots there for us to talk about. But it’s customary for us to share a little bit of the backstory of our guests. So perhaps you can share a little bit of when, why and how you came to co found planet Earth.
Lubomila Jordanova 2:29
Well, first of all, I would like to say thank you, I’ve always been really fond of the work that you’ve been doing. So really appreciate we having this conversation today. When why how I think it’s kind of a bit of a long story. There was a lot of serendipity involved a lot of enthusiasm. And I would say a bit of a shock. In 2016 I was having a wonderful life in London and during my FinTech job working for CEO of that stage, quite a huge already FinTech startup that is now doing fantastically well. And what ended up happening was that I quickly had to learn about climate change and pollution after a trip in Morocco. And there was a trigger, it was not necessarily this aha Hollywood moment where I leave my job on the same day. And I don’t want to see any more anything else but climate change related topics. But I was so surprised by the disregard that people had for nature, in this place that wasn’t comically benefiting from that. So I ended up going back to London and spending a whole year more or less after work in my free time educating myself about the topic. And after that I quit. And this is how planning started.
David Hunt 3:47
Okay, but how did the idea then concept what we’re talking about? Show me about the technology? So Plan A has, will this go back? I knew there were lots of technologies and tools that we need to leverage it to deploy to really address the monumental challenge ahead of us. But plan eyes platform tell us a little bit about Firstly, your mission, which I guess we’ll get a little bit of an idea about that already. But if you can share a little bit more about the mission behind the company, and then exactly what does the platform do? What does it enable and what type of clients do you work with?
Lubomila Jordanova 4:18
So the software aims to contribute to the carbon negative economy that we need to shift towards worldwide. And what the software does in practice is it support companies prominently on the largest set aside in calculating their carbon emissions and also monitoring their ESG performance? And essentially teaches them through the use of algorithms on how they can improve their performance, be it on the environmental or on the social and governance side.
David Hunt 4:51
Okay, so it’s quite a complex platform, and obviously, is not something which is written or coded overnight. I’m quite sure. So again, Perhaps you can share a little bit of how the company came about and how many you are now and, and perhaps again, some examples, maybe of some of the clients, or if you can’t share the names, at least some of the adaptations they’ve made on the on the strength of using the platform?
Lubomila Jordanova 5:13
Of course, yeah, well, I it’s definitely not something that came overnight, we’ve been working on the software itself for the last three years. And it’s a piece of work that involves a lot of scientific knowledge, as well as a lot of machine learning knowledge. I’m really lucky to have an in house scientific team that comes from some of the most reputable Institute’s like Potsdam Institute for climate research. We also have a lot of people that are in partnership with us working on the same topic from Yale or MIT and others. And that supports the development of the product. And what essentially, it does, it’s enables companies to really tap into another layer of analysis that they normally don’t look at, even though they have the data that can really give them this kind of insight. So we look into the existing data systems of a company or the data that they have about their employees about their financial performance. Also the things that they purchase, and essentially, add another layer to say this data into environmental insights, and show them how they’re negatively impacting our planet and how this can be improved. Some of the clients we work with quite a big chunk of them are in the financial sector, we work with a lot of banks, we work with a lot of financial institutions, VCs private equity companies, we also work with outtake complex corporates working in the construction space, we work with a company called WNC. As an example, that might be recognisable for many that live in Europe or in Africa, as it’s the biggest road maintenance company, in Europe, both phones, energy companies, and so on, we work also with fashion. And finally, with mobility. And in this whole bit, we also have some fast growing, scaling tech companies. It’s a wild mix. But we have been developing this product for quite a while. So we have been able to develop modules that are specific to these industries.
David Hunt 7:15
Right, right. Now, there are many drivers, of course, for businesses to engage. Hopefully, a lot of that is fairly altruistic and just recognising that they need to do something. But I know from experience that often that’s not the primary driver. So what are some of the drivers that your clients do come to you or do open their door to discretion with, with play around is there you know, carbon trading, Emissions Trading? What what are some of the sort of advantages that they gain aside from knowing that they’re doing the right thing?
Lubomila Jordanova 7:46
I think it’s quite an interesting mix these days. On one hand, we have a lot of regulation that is coming in place, especially in Europe. And that is, for the first time in any of these technological revolutions that we’ve gone through been driving. And clearly the agenda. Normally this happens is a secondary move, because government is not moving as fast. In this state, we have them behind the back of our mission. The second factor is about the consumer preferences. This might seem quite fluffy for many that are working in like, let’s say, b2b, heavy machinery, and so on. But the truth, truth is, is that it trickles down to them as well, because then this leads to the third category, the investors. And that’s the third reason why actually we see a lot of movement in the market are looking into supporting something that for them allows scalability, but your ability as well. So that essentially this focus on the inability, these three factors are the main one that actually push the companies that we work with to do something. And essentially, that is more than enough to supply I would say, not only the work of plenty, but also of a lot of even consultants and others. Were just making the whole industry quite active at this moment.
David Hunt 9:00
Yeah, I mean, it’s certainly been really refreshing to see a real drive in the last two or three years around. corporates engaging in not just renewable energy, but other sort of high impact activities as well. But it’s always been something that’s kind of always bothered me. But you know, for example, as a company at Hyperion, we offset all of the emissions of our company and of our individual employees. And whilst I think offsetting is good, clearly, we fly a lot when we’re able to and need to address that in some way. But sometimes I feel that that can be a little bit of a an opportunity for companies to avoid making real change in kind of brushing the emissions under the carpet, so to speak. So how does plan a platform encourage real carbon reduction actions and what type of actions have you seen in the last few years from some of your clients?
Lubomila Jordanova 9:49
We are quite active in the space of reduction since day one and the reason for this is that if you look at the scientific evidence It clearly points out that the only way forward for our planet to really get back to a healthy level is if there’s significant reduction in co2 emissions. So I stand behind what you say in terms of the fact that offsetting is not enough. And what maybe would be useful for the listeners to understand is kind of how offsetting also could be going wrong in terms of like the quality of the offsets, also, the transparency, also the amount of money that goes into going to the space itself, because there’s a lot of resellers. So quite often, a big chunk of the money doesn’t go away, it has to do with this in mind, we actually have built a team in house that is focused on decarbonisation, and any of our clients that we work with, actually first have to focus on reduction, and only then they can compensate. Compensation doesn’t only happen with offsetting growth with carbon capture, also with social impact and sustainable investment projects. So essentially, we don’t necessarily focus only on offering the conventional way of looking into compensation, but allow for companies to think of this act as an extension of their impact outside of the boundaries of the organisation. So give them essentially a play of opportunities that maybe is sparking the interest of also their employees, their customers. And it’s something that is really tangible. And sometimes I’ve said turn on that.
David Hunt 11:25
Yeah, yeah, no, absolutely. And I know that too, you touched on this already a lot of corporates clear, very complex organisations with multiple locations, and many sort of facets to the business. And I’m sure that that can be challenging. But equally, I know that there’s a lot of SMEs and startups that are keen to address and make sure they start their journey on the good foot, we’re working with a client that was just actually from Berlin, just expand into the US. And they’re sort of backdated their carbon emission reductions back to when they were founded and still looking to do work. But so they’re a scaling business. Do you work with companies who are younger, smaller, perhaps less complex now, but clearly are on a growth phase,
Lubomila Jordanova 12:01
we work with a lot of unicorns recently established unicorn. So essentially, companies that I’ve maybe had like a few 100 employees yesterday, and then now they’re in the 1000s. This is really interesting type of client to work with, because that requires a different mindset about what sustainability really stands for, they really need this fundamental kind of methodology and mindset, to be shaped in the way that companies build. Because with the speed that they’re growing, it really doesn’t allow for any shift to happen shortly after. So for these kinds of cases, we normally support not only on kind of embedding our system from the beginning, so that they can track data and so on. But we also give them a manifesto of sustainability that they can then transpose to their employees and their customers, so that they can involve others on their journey, because otherwise, it really becomes a kind of Chinese whisper set of steps that no normally get to be taken. Yeah,
David Hunt 13:01
yeah. So how much of the the offering is essentially around providing consultancy either instead of alongside the access to the platform?
Lubomila Jordanova 13:08
Well, the main and most important element of our work is the product itself. And the verdict is quite advanced. So it can cover a wide range of clients and give them kind of quite a lot of functionality. without necessarily beyond an onboarding, the help of us, we also have account managers and so on. But that’s kind of where we normally take exciting projects that require a bit more hand holding is when we’re entering into a new kind of industry. At the moment, we’re getting quite deep into automotive and the car industry is not the easiest one to tackle. And it’s not something that you just drop producting, and you hope for the best. In this particular case, we’re really working, we have two dedicated people to this particular project. And for that we’re looking into like complex fleet management, and so kind of production of cars, and so on. So in these kinds of cases, we do console, but it always needs to lead to something tangible that gets to be transformed into a product. So that’s kind of our approach. And we’re really happy in terms of how it allows us to scale the product as well.
David Hunt 14:17
Yeah, yeah, no, I think she said there are some industries that are globally complex for the supply chains and sort of having the data or accessing the data I think is critical. But one thing I’ve heard you talk about before actually is going back to your what underlies the platform is sort of the massive amount of climate related data that sits underneath the platform, which enables you to I guess, or the platform to advise on the best potential courses of action.
Lubomila Jordanova 14:41
Indeed, yeah, so as I mentioned earlier, one of the most important fundamental elements of planning is our scientific team. We’ve had a scientific team since day one, and this is really great competitive advantage because it allows us to really have this like granular lens that gives us really deep understanding of what really climate change is and how it can be addressed on on industry on a country even level. And since the beginning, we’ve been collecting a lot of data, we’ve also developed our own proprietary data sets that are on one hand benchmarks, where we can give companies an indication how they’re performing against others. On the other hand, we have a lot of data that can navigate the company, how they’re doing in terms of waste management, water consumption, influence on biodiversity, so going quite deep into anything but carbon accounting, because the carbon accounting is a given. It’s something you can’t skip. It’s the main currency in our field. But there’s other insights that at the moment, we are not necessarily utilising enough as a I would say, as a planet that will allow us to really understand fundamentally what climate change constitutes of and how we can really effectively act on it when we start establishing these sustainability agendas.
David Hunt 15:58
Right, right. I mean, there’s a lot of complexity in the offering that you have in the platform that you’ve built. So going alongside that, you know, you this year, you’ve grown your headcount, I know you’ve you’ve recently raised, I think about $3 million of further seed funding, from demand to meet tourism and soft bank. But what have been some of the biggest personal challenges to you, as the leader, CEO since founding the company,
Lubomila Jordanova 16:23
I think it’s a daily roller coaster. This morning, I had one of the most turbulent morning since I would say some months, there’s also been quite a lot of you know, just this dynamism not doesn’t always turn into something that is super positive, and something you can navigate easily. I think on a personal level, one thing that I have been challenged by is definitely, first of all, adapting to COVID. In the sense that COVID made us change our target group, we started working with corporates during COVID, just because the whole SME focus kind of disappeared, he was appropriate anymore, given the last so many revenues and so on. They’re also something challenging more on the team level, because we were never this like fully remote company. So that kind of disappeared as an option to be in the physical space. And all of a sudden, we needed to learn all these new tactics to engage with one another. And then finally, I would say, learning while doing when it comes to fundraising, we’ve had some previous angel investment in the company. And that was the kind of investment that was definitely more like, believing in the vision and so on. But getting us investors on board getting also Demeter, that is like a very traditional fund on board is quite a different ballgame. Because the negotiation, the discussion is a lot more kind of in depth. And it requires preparation that at the stage when we weren’t negotiating it, the market was not speaking on our behalf. Because we hadn’t justify a space that did not exist. After we got the funding, there’s been like all these 1000s of companies that now have, you know, the same business model have the same offering. But at that point, it was really novel, to focus on reduction to focus on end to end platform for carbon accounting ESG, as well. And that has been kind of maybe on a more personal level, the challenges. But I signed up for this. So I guess we can’t complain about things that we knew beforehand about.
David Hunt 18:38
Yeah, no, for sure. For sure. I mean, that’s one of the great things about everybody’s journey. And everybody I’m blessed to speak with on the podcast, really is that everybody comes in with their own separate challenges. And that, yeah, it’s not for the faint hearted. But like you say, we will all sign up for it. There’s a couple of things that normally just to pick up on that you mentioned there, one of which clearly is COVID. And Fingers crossed, we’re hopefully towards the back end of of that scenario. But now a lot of people are focused on how they adapt their business models to whatever the future looks like. Hybrid is, of course, talked about a lot. And we’re going through that ourselves in terms of how we work, what sort of impact I guess there’s one of which is is it the internal impact because you as a business are growing and working remotely. So be interested to get your thoughts on how you’ve managed to keep the vision and the communication within the company strong. The other of course, is for your clients perspective, you know, there’s a lot of changes in how they manage their businesses and therefore that impact on positively and negatively on their environmental impact. So have you some thoughts on Firstly, how you’ve managed to keep the momentum and the passion division within your company? And perhaps what your thoughts are on how you see the next two or three years from a work perspective.
Lubomila Jordanova 19:47
Since they weren’t a plenty, I have been focused on culture. And I think that has been also maybe my tainted experience of having been an environment which we’re not necessarily focused on developing really strong To have this commitment to stable work environment, for many, and so on. And with this in mind, I think any challenge that we face historically has always been kind of been an obstacle just for a short amount of time until we quite quickly adapt. COVID was an interesting learning about mental health, because we had a lot of employees that were, like single people living at home by themselves. And we needed to all of a sudden put a lot of emphasis on making sure that there are concerns that normally were not even voiced because it was just not a common thing to speak about, was made public, it was made something that was at the focus, we’re going now through yet another month of mental health sessions. And this is basically something that we financially sponsor for the whole team were their sessions with psychologists where we speak about, like how to deal with anxiety, how to deal with fear. And that is not to say that, you know, we’ve had like some major outbreaks of people not feeling well, it was more like a prevention method to allow for everyone to be really kind of upfront about things that maybe they have not experienced yet. And that has been something really, I would say useful. And that has been also supported by this open environment we’ve developed in plenty we had, you know, I think quite the usual palay of things happened at COVID. And I think, the fact that we’re so close to one another, we’re now more than 450 people. But we really like each other when we love spending time with each other, allowed us to really test ourselves in different environments. We did like online games, we had like online drinks, we did a online cooking class where one of our employees, his wives, taught us how to do Indian cooking. So we really went through a lot of different experiments to see what fits and a lot was taken with a positive response. on the client side, the story has been a bit different, I think we definitely saw how money is the king, in the sense that we thought that we will be focusing on SMEs because they’re more nimble and more small, and they will be interested in carbon accounting and sustainability because they care and the corporates don’t have time for that. totally the opposite happened. We’re working only with corporates at the moment. And they’re publicly listed companies predominantly driven by regulatory frameworks that they have to have, they had to adapt to. Yeah. And I think on their site, probably like the most important change has been, first of all, to understand how to act on that, and educate themselves on the way, which is what we help with as well. Because sometimes we kind of need to compensate for whatever is not written in the policy papers in a clear business manner. And the second thing was just kind of this hybrid mode, which needed to be reflected also in our product. And that, of course, has been done immediately already in March last year.
David Hunt 23:05
Yeah, yeah, I think it’s just really fascinating to see what because so many good things have come from, I would say, could from COVID, because clearly lots of negative combat from it in terms of how we deal with each other and how we recognise within the work environment, our mental health issues, you know, safety around our personal space, and all this kind of stuff. So I think there’s an awful lot of good that will come hopefully, they’ll remain and it’s important to we don’t lose some of the lessons that we’ve sort of learned over the last year or so.
Lubomila Jordanova 23:30
I hope, I think it’s not going to be short lived, just because the impact of the shock we went through is beyond the imagination of many. And I think just the horror and the sorrow that people went through is something that you can kind of forget, and everyone has like a personal story to tell about what COVID meant for them. And, you know, it’s still ongoing and is really kind of prominent in so many geographies. So I think we’re not going to be short term sighted in this particular case. Yeah,
David Hunt 24:05
yeah. No, she said, there’s still a bit of a way to go. We’re gonna return to to plan a but one of the things that’s where we first actually become involved was through the green tech Alliance. And I’m keen to talk to you about that because along with diverse and greenwashing, which we’ll we’ll move on to which is an interest in places where you have some interest. But let’s start with the fantastic community that is green tech alone. So I mentor for a couple of accelerators like four set and plug and play. But I’ve really enjoyed the engagement with with green tech lines. But can you share a little bit of how and why that came about? And how you find the time as much as anything?
Lubomila Jordanova 24:39
Yeah. First of all, I’d like to say thank you for being part of the community and such an active advisor because it really tangibly changes the lives of all these companies. And it’s something that maybe some consider given because you know, you have the expertise, you can share it, but it’s not. And it’s much appreciated. For those of the listeners that don’t know about the This is a community now of more than 1000 businesses that work on sustainability related issues. Any kind of solution offering alternative packaging, alternative material alternative process that essentially is offering something more sustainable, and effectively something that addresses kind of climate change in one way or another. We set up the community in May 2020. And it was yet again, another effect of COVID. We were quite shocked by what happened in March and April, I initiated the first kind of I put together the founding team, with the initial concern that I saw from a lot of peers that were building their sustainability companies and they started getting their timesheets being pulled, they started seeing also employers, kind of firing people, employees, in companies, seeing how their company is not able to secure certain deals, and so on. And all of these friends were sharing these horror stories, and it made me understand that probably there’s kind of a big wave of challenges ahead of us. We didn’t know at that time that the Green Deal was going to happen that the EU was gonna respond so fast that Biden was going to be elected. So essentially, there was a bit of a concern that sustainability was going to become secondary, because we’re going to be talking about economic recovery in the typical terms that only related to economic growth, without necessarily looking into these environmental KPIs. And we initially kicked off with 100 advisors in 100. Companies, some of which are familiar to many, and many of them have been also on the podcast, some of the most prominent players in the space. And we were just amazed by the response that we got, because it was essentially like this wave of people that were saying, Oh, my God, I’ve been so lonely since the beginning of during my company, I’m so glad you gave me the chance to find peers and partners and friends. And I remember speaking to someone in Iceland, and she was like, well, one out of the two companies in Iceland that focus on sustainability. So yeah, great, exciting experience. And yeah, it’s super exciting to see where the community is now. Now we have more than 500 advisors, one of which is you and obviously 100 venture capital funds, then organisation partners like the EU, UNDP, BMW Foundation, planet, a ventures and so on. So really exciting to have been part of the kickoff and stay up to date, time, which is don’t find in any way. In any case, compensating in the cutting corners, I
David Hunt 27:40
think what’s really fascinated about and really rewarding is that it is a community. So I do work with other accelerators and they’re great. Don’t get me wrong. Is this really cool accelerators and incubators around for for the clean tech space? And that’s excellent. But yeah, that sense of community where people are giving of their time for free and without necessarily an expectation other than supporting one another through accusation difficult times. And we really interesting to see when do you have particular plans for you know, how the community will grow? Or maybe even further internationalised? I know, initially, it was very burden centric, but clearly now is certainly a European focus. I don’t know if your thoughts are on further expansion or whether the platform becomes more of a corporate entity in itself, or what your plans are.
Lubomila Jordanova 28:27
We are extensively expanding across Europe, but also the US, Africa, Asia. There’s definitely this morning, I was doing probably like 10 interviews, and there was not a single company from Berlin, which really warmed my heart because I was like, finally, we going outside of the bubble. But to be honest, like there’s already been out of these 1000 companies like 100 nationalities. And there’s quite a diversity in terms of solutions. So pretty, I would say exciting. In terms of division, we really want to make the support for the companies really tangible. So there’s two key areas where there’s a lot of need for support. One is the financing part. And then the second one is enabling these relationships between corporates companies really happen. And that kind of this matchmaking element related to business opportunities, already doing this in a more informal manner on both sides in the investment and on the corporate side. But the vision is that we really would enable these companies to have tangible business opportunities, tangible investment opportunities, and that is something that we plan on developing for q3 q4, this year already.
David Hunt 29:41
Super, super well, we’ll make sure on the episode web page along with obviously directly pointing to plan eight, we’re pulling to greentec. Alliance, and people can explore that a little bit further. You touched on something there which is important to both of us, I know. And on the strength of the community itself is very diverse, but There’s a bigger agenda, you know, a hype period we’ve been working for quite some time on making with our clients of course to make sure we improve the diversity of talent in their organisations and the diversity of of shortlists. Now we want that can be difficult in both digital and physical tech because including clean tech, because a lot of companies that look traditionally a lot of people are coming from a very male dominated environment. And clearly, we’re not perfect, there’s, we’ve learned a lot, but we’ve got a lot more to learn. But even so I think, whilst gender at least now is a topic, by no means fixed, but it’s a topic things like acne, ethnic diversity and in sexual diversity are rarely talked about and can be perhaps more difficult to to to deal with. So just wondering how you’ve addressed the issue of Plan A, and perhaps then any further thoughts or advice you would give on CEOs and founders? Because I know you’ve got a regionally diverse team yourself. And clearly the involvement with with green tech lines as well. But instead of challenge, what are your thoughts on how we deal with that, or any sort of experiences that you’ve had that have been, I guess, either challenging or things that you’ve learned from in this space?
Lubomila Jordanova 31:07
It’s an incredibly important question. And I think for planning, I can give a few statistics to shed some light on how we approach the topic. First of all, we have more or less 50 50 million. And I need to hear mentioned that when it comes to the management level of the company. There’s only me that is female, which is really, you know, out of the sea levels that we have, and that’s like, five people, it’s only me. And that’s something that has been incredibly challenging. And now we’re setting up also quite a few programmes specifically to explain how we think about values in planning so that we can attract also this kind of talent. But it’s really shocking to observe also, like, how does the market operate, we now launched the job description for head of France received like a few 100 applications within a few short, like within two weeks. And essentially, what ended up happening was that we didn’t have a single woman to apply, which is to mean, not a reflection of reality, because at the end of the day, there is enough women that doing this kind of work, and probably like doing not the right job to be able to attract this kind of talent. A few other statistics applied plenty. So we’re 50% company, more than 25 nationalities, we also have a lot of diversity in terms of sexual preferences. And that’s something that we openly, you know, invite people to speak about if they want to, in the sense that this is, you know, something that has been made, you know, the way things are, and there’s no stigma, there’s no challenge about it. And this is super exciting, because it really opens up the minds of people about, you know, the fact that this is an open environment, and they can trust the people that they work with in more so on personal level. If I can just finish maybe on the challenge side, like I think what I mentioned about women is something that I don’t think is a problem only for plenty, I see a lot of female founders, setting up companies, and this is really exciting in the green tech Alliance, I’m sure you’ve noticed as well, we have so many fantastic women building companies, yet I feel like there’s a missing managerial kind of C suite level that first of all needs to be nurtured maybe from the lower level to the higher level of management in the process. But then on the other hand, there needs to be also a lot of not only discussion, but a bit more action about this, because we’ve seen it ourselves. And I I would have thought that by me being you know, a CEO that I’m really outspoken about these issues, there will be a lot of an easier kind of process for us to get these kinds of candidates. The truth is, is that isn’t an I cannot lie about it.
David Hunt 33:55
Yeah, no, it is a challenge necessarily. Fortunately, most of our clients do challenge us, we work with them on that. But it’s there’s so much to be done and learned from me mostly about you touched on openness and just making an environment where it’s very visible and very apparent that whatever your gender or ethnicity or sexuality that you can speak and be accepted. And I think it’s starts with things like job descriptions, and adverts and all this kind of stuff. And obviously, we’re happy to advise and share some of our experiences in other platforms. But yeah, there’s a long way to go. And I think it’s great to see companies who are making headway and as you say, there’s still work to go and I think you’re quite right there is often maybe with the founders and that’s cool. There’s a focus on female founders, and people like yourself who are real, you know, out there and capable. But there’s an awful lot of people are just as capable, perhaps not necessarily. It’s out there if that makes sense. And we need to provide platforms or openness for them to feel that they can fulfil that potential, but it’s certainly a huge topic and thanks for sharing your thoughts. The other thing which I know that you addressed recently, and it’s something which I’ve been a bit outspoken about in the past, and that’s calling people out in terms of from greenwashing perspective. And we all know that there are and we won’t name any names, but there are in those some very large organisations, or companies, utilities who advertise and share a great deal on in the press of their green credentials, but we know it’s, you know, it’s a miniscule fraction of their activities. And there’s two fronts that I think, you know, we do have to encourage these companies to join, and I’m sure a lot of them are, you know, potentially your clients we know can benefit from working with with plenty, but it can be frustrating sometimes when people are making claims that aren’t necessarily true. So can you share a little bit about the anti greenwashing campaign and the mandatory carbon reporting? campaign that you launched recently?
Lubomila Jordanova 35:51
Absolutely. So greenwashing is quite widely known topic. And I think it’s one that creates a lot of different opinions, because we still haven’t gotten to the level of alignment in terms of the definition of what it really stands for, in the way that plenty understands it. It’s about basically making claims specifically for carbon neutrality that really are not backed. There’s exactly for the companies that we shall not name, there’s actually cases where carbon neutrality was called out on scope one and two. And you know, quite a lot, I would say, of discrepancy in terms of what science would expect from these kinds of claims to be standing for. So our campaign had a very simple request that he was basically setting some foundation and ground rules on what really could be claimed as carbon neutrality and make it a punishable on everything else, in terms of how you do it. And it was really interesting to see the response that we got, because actually, coincidentally, there was a lot of stuff happening in the European Commission. So now there’s actually work that has been done on the topic. So quite good timing, and we’re super happy to be connected with quite a lot of the people working on the framework that is going to be defining this. And then at the same time in France, the climate act happened. I don’t know if you heard about this initiative, started by a startup that is a friend of ours. And now there’s more than 250 companies that signed up that they basically said, we’re going to disclose without anyone asking us our scope, one, two, and three, just because we think that this is the only way forward to really have a clear path to sustainability. And that that is essentially the vision that we stand for that there is enablement for companies to really focus on understanding what they’re doing in on the environmental topic, and how they can adapt. We’re really giving this transparency because otherwise, we’re really going to be lost until all of these claims are not cleared. For for the fact checking that maybe hasn’t happened yet. Yeah,
David Hunt 37:51
yeah. Yeah. Again, though, it was great to see that balanced view on things because as you say, there, it is a challenge for some of these big organisations that can’t change necessarily overnight, but it’s around, I guess, the honesty of appreciating where you are in the journey you’re on and not trying to hide maybe some things that just for the sake of it, but let’s return a little bit to plan a, you know, it’s a huge challenge to retain that sense of mission and culture. As you grow. I think every founder and CEO will know that as you scan, it becomes a challenge in and of itself. And you touched on before that, clearly you lead the way or you know, in a lot of this stuff. But there will be a lot of me to platforms and companies. So how do you address maintaining the culture as you scale? And how do you stay competitive, a new unique when there are others coming into the marketplace?
Lubomila Jordanova 38:47
I think it’s really important to identify what is the character, that and mindset that you building into the company. There is a certain process that is quite natural, when a company where the culture develops, and this is something that is inevitable. It’s not about the founders, it’s not about the first three employees, it’s about everyone that is at this stage in the company, and everyone has a little part to play everyone has like really kind of a contribution to make, and they make it inevitably it’s not something that they can necessarily influence or avoid. It happens in every single small conversation that happens in the company, at every single outing that some members of the team have and so on. So, what we have done to set out kind of a good foundation for this culture to develop in a trajectory that we really align with has been first of all to embed like really positive mindset in the way we do things in planning. There’s a lot of smokes. There’s a lot of kind of engagement in a positive way with the team. We try to laugh a lot. We’re dealing with Very complex topic. So I think it requires for us to be incredibly positive so that we make sure we don’t fall into the trap of being really sad for actually, climate change stands for. The second thing is that we have a very open culture, that is not always the perfect suit for everyone, because people find it like to be like, you know, to the point and like really a bit like German, like, maybe it could be quite harsh for someone. But it’s something that allows that there’s no backstabbing behaviour, there’s like really a lot of transparency. Like if something doesn’t go right, like you just say it. And then, of course, a certain tone of voice that you should use. But we don’t like to hide things and not to like make out of like challenges, like some beautiful, fluffy sugar coated story. And then the final thing is allowing people to grow. I’m super proud to say that, first of all, planning is a five year old company. So it’s not since yesterday. And then actually, for the first two years, it was close to 10 of us. And after that, like things started really like happening for plenty. And we’ve only had one person leave it since then, since the beginning. And that person left because she got pregnant. And with her husband, they decided to move to Munich. And she’s still fantastic contribution and is even looking forward to coming back to cleany. So like, really, this longevity of the commitment is there. And that has only been possible because since day one of the people that have joined, I’ve paid a lot of attention. And now there’s also other people that are doing that, to make sure that these people who join to and maybe just straight out of uni, now can become managers, Junior sales, maybe in a bit more like mid level and so on. But really, this opportunity is painted for them. And they can imagine themselves as someone that grows with the company. And that is something that I at least appreciate. Because I think this loyalty allows for really like going through any kind of challenge. Be at COVID Be it, you know, other turbulent times that are kind of a normal thing to go through in a company.
David Hunt 42:15
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, no, super important. So important. We’ve been talking for quite a while and we could talk forever. But it’s customary that I close the podcast with a view of perhaps some of the things that have inspired you or people that have inspired you initially, whether that’s books or people or thought leaders or or podcasts or whatever. But are there any places that you would point people to the divine either inspired you early in your journey or continue to inspire you when it gets challenging, and when it gets tough?
Lubomila Jordanova 42:41
I think something that happened last week, but it’s been there in my life for many years now is Gene guru, I had the honour last week to interview her. And that was something that was quite an experience, because she is the goddess she is someone that has done so much for science, so much for biodiversity that I think troops of people in their lifetime, including myself probably will wish to be able to do because she fought discrimination. She fought also stigma about science and what actually biodiversity means for science and so on. And that is someone that is really interesting to observe. And if anyone who’s listening wants to be further inspired, you should go and check out any video of her because she really fundamentally speaks about things that all of her conversations with people that quite well define, I would say the philosophy of life, but also one that is really respectful, to where essentially kind of, you know, we’re headed, and what we need to be considerate of, if we really want to preserve the remaining biodiversity and our planet. That’s maybe on the that’s maybe on the maybe kind of non inspirational side. There’s someone else that I have been having the honour to be in close contact with. And that’s one of the senior advisors of Bank of England. Miko Sharon, Miko is someone that is really pragmatic business person, he is, you know, he’s been chairman of the G 20. But the way he speaks about sustainability is, I would say quite special because he allows for this, do you know, this reality that we’re building at the moment to really be developed in the mind of a business person is something that is totally achievable? And I think this is a language barrier that we have, it’s still between many people that are building sustainability companies and these kind of business decision makers that we’re trying to convince. We believe in planning that we found the language to speak to many of them, but I think there’s still a long way to go if we really want to convince the kind of the ones that are not necessarily there yet. And then something that maybe is just like, funny thing and probably take I don’t know There’s such a tradition in podcasts doing if you invite other podcasters. But there’s a UK podcast called sustainable. And it’s a comedy podcast for sustainability. But it’s really funny, because they always, like, make these silly jokes about how they can be, you know how you can take an industry and make it more sustainable, but what are the pitfalls on the way and so on? But I think you have a fantastic conversation with them. So yeah, these three people I guess, or like their two people actually unsustainable. These four people, somewhere where I get excitement when I when I needed.
David Hunt 45:36
You said it, they need to laugh. times because it can be that time challenging or depressing, if you’re not if you view things the wrong way, but ultimately, it’s inspiring because of so much that is going on from organisations including yours. So listen, it’s been brilliant to spend some time with you, Lula, thank you for sharing your thoughts. And for joining us on the podcast. We’ll put on the episode page some links to the people you mentioned, and of course, to plan a and to green tech Alliance and wish you every success for the year.
Lubomila Jordanova 46:03
Thank you so much, David. It’s really a pleasure.
David Hunt 46:08
Thank you for listening. Hope you enjoyed that slightly longer than usual episode. Please do continue to give your feedback and share the episodes that you do enjoy across your social media platforms with your friends and communities. And I look forward to you joining me on the next episode. Please do subscribe and I’ll speak to you soon.