Porter Novelli announces new Sustainability practice

8 April, 2019

Porter Novelli has announced an exciting new practice, and a fourth member of their Senior Leadership Team. 

Managing Director Sarah Williams said: “I’m thrilled to be sharing the news with you.

“We have appointed James Walker as Executive Director to lead our Sustainability practice. James joins our senior leadership team which includes me, and Executive Directors Jane Luscombe and Louise Wright.

“We have long recognised the importance of sustainability to New Zealand businesses and have witnessed an acceleration of corporates wanting to make a positive environmental and social impact.

“CEOs and executive teams are increasingly asking for help on how they can make a tangible difference. They have moved beyond ‘why should we’ to ‘what can we do’ to benefit customers, employees, investors and the environment. That’s where we come in, helping to make businesses better through identifying what needs to be done, then creating strategies and programmes that have impact and deliver results.

“As our thinking around a Sustainability practice gathered pace, all roads led to James being the right person to help us bring this to life. His track record at driving change, his connections and influencing skills, plus his Porter Novelli-aligned sense of humour made it a no-brainer. James is a former client and the mutual trust and respect is a fantastic place to start.”

In James’ most recent role, as Deputy Secretary Partnerships and Customers at the Ministry for the Environment, he led the Ministry’s division responsible for mobilising New Zealanders and partnering with change makers. He led work on the transition to a circular economy; collaborative action on plastic packaging and bags; the Ministry’s sustainability strategy; environmental innovation; and the public consultation on the development of the Zero Carbon Bill.

Prior to his role at MfE, James was General Manager Corporate Affairs at Woolworths Group (New Zealand), where he led Countdown’s sustainability strategy and reporting programme. There he led initiatives such as the company’s single use plastic bag ban - the first supermarket to do so - and industry-leading domestic violence and transgender transitioning policies. Formerly, he worked at the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as a policy officer (trade and environment) and then Deputy Ambassador to the Netherlands.

“I’m really looking forward to starting up this new practice, alongside my old mates Sarah and Lou, and the team at Porter Novelli. Getting alongside a range of different businesses to help them make an impact is going to be a huge buzz,” says James.

“From my time working across retail and government, I get a kick out of helping businesses make a real difference. Business can lead environmental and social change because it can move fast, is willing to experiment, and can bring people along.”

Porter Novelli’s new Sustainability practice will include strategy development, identifying community and social programmes, brokering partnerships and connections, working with government and creatively telling stories.

"James will work across the Clemenger Group, which Porter Novelli NZ is a part of, to support our businesses and clients to achieve their sustainability ambitions – and to communicate actions effectively," says Sarah. 

James will start his new role at Porter Novelli on 29 April.

Porter Novelli is a member of the Sustainable Business Council, their building is EnviroMark Gold accredited and, as part of the Clemenger Group, they achieved the Rainbow Tick in 2018. SPCA NZ is their charity client.