Features | 11 Mar 2022

International Women’s Week: ‘I’m doing the job I always wanted to do’

To celebrate International Women’s Week, we profile senior female leaders helping the company achieve its green objectives. Here we meet Emma Kidd, Environment Manager.

Emma Kidd, Vodafone’s Environment Manager in the UK, is responsible for ensuring Vodafone operates in the most sustainable way.

This involves helping the company to reduce carbon emissions on its journey towards net zero, reduce waste, and use existing resources more efficiently. It’s a huge task, but one that she relishes.

“I was that kid at school who put her hand up and said I wanted to work in an environmental role in a large organisation. And now that’s exactly what I’m doing!”

Her job covers all areas of the business, she says, from “how we operate our retail stores to how we lay our fibre cables, from how we cool our data centres to the electrification of our car and van fleet.

“It’s very cross-functional and certainly very varied – no two days are the same.”

Before COVID-19 struck, the company had made great strides in removing all single-use plastics from retail stores and offices. Another recent project involved helping field engineers recycle left-over packaging more efficiently though a partnership with ByBox.

How Vodafone's suppliers are going green, too

To minimise their impact on the environment while working towards net zero, Vodafone and its suppliers are revamping every part of their operations, from engineering waste to IT operations.

Collaboration is key, so she works closely with the Sustainable Business team in the Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Directorate, she says, as well as with many other Vodafone departments.

Embracing change

As well as ensuring that Vodafone complies with all relevant environmental law, Emma’s team does a lot of monitoring and data collection, assessing how well – or otherwise – the company uses its resources, then makes recommendations on how to improve.

This often means encouraging people to change the way they’ve always done things, so diplomacy and persuasiveness are key skills, Emma believes.

“People don’t like change – when you ask them to try doing something a different way, some scepticism and resistance is natural.

People can feel that that the climate is changing, they can see it

“So in this job you have to be very diplomatic and have good interpersonal skills,” Emma reflects.

That said, most people now accept that we have to change to the way we operate, Emma believes.

“People can feel that that the climate is changing, they can see it. It’s a huge shift that’s going to change the way we live.”

Spreading the word

With a degree in Geography and a master’s in Environmental Science, Emma says she’s always been fascinated by ‘green’ issues, whether advising construction company Tarmac as a graduate trainee or working in the rail industry helping it reduce its environmental impact.

Emma joined Cable & Wireless in 2006, which then became part of the Vodafone family in 2012, and has been advising on environmental issues ever since.

Her proudest moment was in November 2021 representing Vodafone at COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference held in Glasgow, she says.

“It was such a thrill to be back talking to people face-to-face again – customers, government ministers, colleagues – and telling them all the ways our technologies can help reduce carbon emissions.

“It’s great to work in a sector that is part of the solution to climate change.”

Vodafone’s European network is already powered by 100% renewable electricity and its UK car and van fleet is now 60% electric, but one big challenge is helping suppliers reach net zero, too. That’s the really tough part of the net zero commitment, Emma believes.

“We’re all on this journey together, including our suppliers, from handset makers to network equipment manufacturers, so part of our role is to help them reduce their carbon emissions, too,” she says.

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Internet of Things-based building management systems, for example, can help businesses and public sector organisations reduce heating and lighting costs, she says.

Breaking the bias

Emma acknowledges that Vodafone has been very supportive in helping her enjoy both a career and family life.

“I’m a mother, a wife, a daughter – it can be tricky getting the work/life balance right,” Emma admits.

“At different times throughout my career I’ve changed the balance to suit the needs of my family, and it’s fantastic working for a company that offers flexible working and really great maternity leave policies.”

What advice would she give girls and young women thinking about following in her footsteps?

“I believe role models are very important and having mentors,” Emma says.

“My advice to anyone looking to start a career is to reach out and ask for help – there are plenty of people out there willing to help.”

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