A DAY IN THE LIFE OF MAYRA TAVARES
The Day in the Life series by Bureau Veritas Certification compiles a variety of interviews from employees throughout the company. We discuss their background, current role, and what an average workday looks like – both the highlights and the challenges. Read the articles to discover a #DayInTheLife of some of our many valued employees.
Mayra Tavares Gil de Souza understands what it takes to build a legacy, both as an individual and as a company. Qualified in veterinary medicine and with a burgeoning career in agricultural and cosmetics sectors in great companies in Brazil, she soon discovered a passion for sustainability, through her humanitarian missions in Africa. Mayra returned to education, completing an MBA with a focus on sustainability and made the pivot into sustainability consulting. Today, she brings 15 years of experience and expertise to her role as Bureau Veritas’ (BV) Sustainability Technical Manager.
Sustainability Technical Manager
I want to inspire people to continue doing the transformation in this area. That’s how we change lives.
I was born into a family of small farmers in Brazil, so I’ve always been passionate about animals and agriculture. Studying to become a vet was a natural choice but, as my career progressed, I became more aware of the sustainability challenges in the industry and in the value chains globally. While I loved my job, I decided that I wanted to use my professional life to have a positive social and environmental impact: I wanted to spend my days making a difference in this world.
It’s not “go big or go home”
In my first corporate sustainability role, I was responsible for the company’s entire global value chain. I realized how important it is that companies consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) impact throughout their entire business. This includes everything from employee labour conditions and supplier relations to respecting local communities and ensuring all franchises are operating under the same framework.
While businesses are generally keen to implement sustainability initiatives, tackling the broad scope of ESG can seem daunting. This is one of the main challenges I face as a sustainability leader. In my team at BV, we recognize that sustainability isn’t built in a day. Our role is to construct a journey with the clients: short- medium- and long-term plans that help companies reach their greatest goals step by step. We support them in adopting a systematic ESG approach and educate them on concrete actions they should take along their journey in what is material for their business.
Emphasizing social progress
The approach that I, and my team, take is based on creating shared value: reconnecting profit and ESG. Success should not be measured in purely financial terms, but rather hand-in-hand with social progress. This gives rise to one of our greatest challenges as leaders, which is quantifying sustainability in a tangible way.
The world talks in money, so we need to find ways to “monetize” non-financial assets. We must demonstrate that sustainability is profitable, that a business can have economic success while addressing society’s needs and challenges. We do this by creating KPIs that illustrate the importance of human, natural and ethical capital. By using this methodology, we’ve shown that companies with ESG funds are even more profitable – and less volatile – than those without.
For me, sustainability isn’t just a job – it’s my vocation, my mission. I’ve volunteered extensively with low-income communities in Brazil over the years, creating social programs. One of them, for youth employment, was even submitted to the United Nations and I went to New York to showcase it. That was a great moment, but it didn’t compare to seeing the lives we helped to change through that program.
I think that people working in this sector have got to share this passion. We still face huge challenges globally, including forced labour, climate change, exploitation of indigenous communities and biodiversity concerns, that we need to combat. Seeing the impact that robust, focused sustainability initiatives have had on both a global and a national level motivates me to continue confronting the big issues head-on, every day. That’s what we do in sustainability; we harness our passion to convince other people to join us in the fight.
Thank you to Mayra Tavares Gil de Souza! For more of our #DayInTheLife series, keep an eye on our website. We have more great interviews coming soon.