E. Freya Williams

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Leading Expert on Implementing Sustainable Business Practices Within Large Companies and Emerging Startups; Branding and Communications Strategist Specializing in the Opportunities in Purpose- and Sustainability-led Transformation; Consultant to Leading Global Brands and Architect of Highly Successful Campaigns and Initiatives; Author, “Green Giants;” North American CEO, Futerra

Biography

As a new generation of socially responsible, environmentally conscious startups emerges, more established companies will have to adapt at a faster pace to avoid losing market share and reputational clout. Yet there exists a barrier between the rhetoric and implementing the necessary transformation at the corporate level.

According to E. Freya Williams, the North American CEO of change agency and consulting firm Futerra, too many people in business mistakenly believe sustainability and profitability are at odds. Through extensive case studies and her direct experience as a branding and business strategist, Williams reveals to organizations the true business case for embracing environmental and social issues as business strategies. When done correctly, sustainability initiatives can drive innovation and lead to wildly profitable enterprises, all while strengthening brand integrity in the eyes of consumers.

Williams specializes in helping leaders implement change within large, complex and siloed organizations where those skeptical of sustainability outnumber those who want to take a more progressive approach. Her achievements in pioneering initiatives include helping REI define its brand purpose; helping Target commit to a $15 an hour minimum wage for all employees; helping PVH develop its Forward Fashion strategy; and Hellmann’s transition to using free range eggs. She also masterminded the award-winning “Hopenhagen” campaign in support of the United Nations at the crucial COP15 climate change conference in Copenhagen, which recruited six million supporters within 60 days (70% of whom had never joined a climate movement before). Combining her expertise in communications with hard data and an in-depth knowledge of how to make corporate responsibility and sustainability profitable, Williams devises strategies that not only transform companies into leaders in sustainability but persuade key stakeholders to support these initiatives. Her work with major global firms – including Google, Target, VF Corporation and Colgate Palmolive – and the tools and insights she employed are the subject of her book, “Green Giants: How Smart Companies Turn Sustainability into Billion-Dollar Businesses” (AMACOM, 2015).

More recently, Williams has been conducting research on how rapidly growing startups can implement sustainable practices as they grow. Armed with experience as an advisor to major corporations and a guest lecturer at Columbia, NYU, Wharton and Harvard, her keynotes are filled with exciting stories of communication campaigns and business model transformation – stories that can inspire even the most skeptical audience to action or offer a powerful rhetorical tool to influence others of the potential of her approach and methods.

Williams’ work has been featured on NPR’s Marketplace, The Financial Times and Newsweek. Her work has also been awarded with a Cannes Lions for marketing excellence, a David Ogilvy award for innovation in market research and an Atticus Award for outstanding thought leadership. She was the co-founder of OgilvyEarth, the sustainability and CSR communications practice within leading global brand agency Ogilvy. Prior to that, Williams spent 10 years as a senior brand strategist, advising major global blue-chip clients as diverse as Dove, Goldman Sachs, Hershey, Kodak and American Express on their brand and marketing strategies.

Today, Williams is the North American CEO of Futerra, whose clients include major corporations (Google, Colgate Palmolive, PVH, VF Corporation and Mastercard) as well as leading non-profits (EarthJustice, Ocean Conservancy and Sierra Club). Futerra is a mission-driven, majority female owned B Corp. The company’s mission is to make sustainable development so desirable it becomes normal.

E. Freya Williams is available for paid speaking engagements including keynote addresses, workshops, panels, conference talks, and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

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Intro Video

Video ThumbnailHow to turn sustainability into a billion-dollar business | Freya Williams | WOBI – youtube Video

A-Z Name

Williams, E. Freya

Biography

As a new generation of socially responsible, environmentally conscious startups emerges, more established companies will have to adapt at a faster pace to avoid losing market share and reputational clout. Yet there exists a barrier between the rhetoric and implementing the necessary transformation at the corporate level.

According to E. Freya Williams, the North American CEO of change agency and consulting firm Futerra, too many people in business mistakenly believe sustainability and profitability are at odds. Through extensive case studies and her direct experience as a branding and business strategist, Williams reveals to organizations the true business case for embracing environmental and social issues as business strategies. When done correctly, sustainability initiatives can drive innovation and lead to wildly profitable enterprises, all while strengthening brand integrity in the eyes of consumers.

Williams specializes in helping leaders implement change within large, complex and siloed organizations where those skeptical of sustainability outnumber those who want to take a more progressive approach. Her achievements in pioneering initiatives include helping REI define its brand purpose; helping Target commit to a $15 an hour minimum wage for all employees; helping PVH develop its Forward Fashion strategy; and Hellmann’s transition to using free range eggs. She also masterminded the award-winning “Hopenhagen” campaign in support of the United Nations at the crucial COP15 climate change conference in Copenhagen, which recruited six million supporters within 60 days (70% of whom had never joined a climate movement before). Combining her expertise in communications with hard data and an in-depth knowledge of how to make corporate responsibility and sustainability profitable, Williams devises strategies that not only transform companies into leaders in sustainability but persuade key stakeholders to support these initiatives. Her work with major global firms – including Google, Target, VF Corporation and Colgate Palmolive – and the tools and insights she employed are the subject of her book, “Green Giants: How Smart Companies Turn Sustainability into Billion-Dollar Businesses” (AMACOM, 2015).

More recently, Williams has been conducting research on how rapidly growing startups can implement sustainable practices as they grow. Armed with experience as an advisor to major corporations and a guest lecturer at Columbia, NYU, Wharton and Harvard, her keynotes are filled with exciting stories of communication campaigns and business model transformation – stories that can inspire even the most skeptical audience to action or offer a powerful rhetorical tool to influence others of the potential of her approach and methods.

Williams’ work has been featured on NPR’s Marketplace, The Financial Times and Newsweek. Her work has also been awarded with a Cannes Lions for marketing excellence, a David Ogilvy award for innovation in market research and an Atticus Award for outstanding thought leadership. She was the co-founder of OgilvyEarth, the sustainability and CSR communications practice within leading global brand agency Ogilvy. Prior to that, Williams spent 10 years as a senior brand strategist, advising major global blue-chip clients as diverse as Dove, Goldman Sachs, Hershey, Kodak and American Express on their brand and marketing strategies.

Today, Williams is the North American CEO of Futerra, whose clients include major corporations (Google, Colgate Palmolive, PVH, VF Corporation and Mastercard) as well as leading non-profits (EarthJustice, Ocean Conservancy and Sierra Club). Futerra is a mission-driven, majority female owned B Corp. The company’s mission is to make sustainable development so desirable it becomes normal.

E. Freya Williams is available for paid speaking engagements including keynote addresses, workshops, panels, conference talks, and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

Green Giants: How Smart Companies Turn Sustainability into Billion-Dollar Businesses

Sustainability is no longer just about doing the right thing; it is now a primary driver of innovation and revenue growth across industries. Companies that invest in environmentally and socially sound technologies and practices of the future will beat out the competition, increasing profits and esteem for their brands today. Yet too many business leaders still see sustainability as a reputational issue at best and a threat to profitability at worst. In this presentation, E. Freya Williams uses her experience as a strategy consultant, using case studies and data analysis to show these leaders precisely why and how sustainability can lead to innovation, growth and enormous returns. Additionally, Williams leverages her background in communications to help forward-thinking leaders develop tactics that obtain buy-in from more skeptical stakeholders and key decisionmakers. Your company needs to start investing in sustainability, and Williams’ 6-step formula, derived from her book “Green Giants,” will help show you the way to green and good-driven profits.

Green Unicorns: How Sustainability Became Silicon Valley’s Latest Billion-dollar Disruption

Large companies often struggle to fully embrace sustainability due to corporate cultures averse to change, complex decision-making processes, and the need to persuade skeptical stakeholders within and without. Startups lack these obstacles and have the opportunity to begin life with sustainability not just bolted-on but built-in. In this presentation, E. Freya Williams applies her insights on sustainable transformation to emerging startups that have grown and scaled rapidly. Turning from “Green Giants” like Toyota and General Electric to highly valued startups including Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, footwear brands AllBirds and Rothys, e-commerce leaders Rent the Runway and The RealReal and more – “Green Unicorns” – Williams shows how these organizations are building the next generation of billion-dollar businesses with sustainability as the category disruptor and differentiator. In this talk, Williams shares the strategies of these Green Unicorns and shows how they can be replicated both by other start-ups and larger organizations seeking to evolve to capture this new consumer, employee and investor opportunity.

Iconoclastic Leadership: How to Lead in The Era of Purpose and Sustainability-Led Business

A new era of business calls for a new style of leader. To build a billion-dollar company in today’s climate, leaders must refocus their strategy to not only benefit their shareholders, but all their stakeholders as well as planet earth herself. E. Freya Williams shares the secrets of the leaders who have successfully led their organizations through sustainability and purpose-led transformation to achieve billion-dollar business success. These rare leaders, from companies such as Whole Foods and Ikea, share the 4 Cs of Iconoclastic Leadership: an inner sense of conviction, the courage to stand up and change the status quo, the commitment to stick to their idea and a constructively contrarian attitude. Williams illustrates their leadership lessons and styles through stories and examples from her research and her experience in consulting to some of the world’s leading businesses as they go on a journey of positive change.

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