Leadership 2050: Andrew White and Paul Polman

'Business should be a force for good.'

In episode 4 of Leadership 2050, Andrew talks to Paul Polman, one of the world’s leading proponents of sustainable capitalism, about using business to drive positive global transformation.

Paul has been called one of the standout business leaders of his generation. For ten years as the CEO at Unilever, he helped revolutionise corporate thinking. He proved that putting purpose and sustainability first was the right way to run a business – Unilever’s profits went up while simultaneously ranking number 1 for sustainability.

Paul was also a member of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel, which developed the Sustainable Development Goals, and as an active SDG Advocate he continues to work with global organisations and across industry to push the 2030 development agenda. He is Chair of the B Team, Vice-Chair of the UN Global Compact and honorary Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce, which he led for two years. 

In 2019 Paul co-founded IMAGINE, whose mission is to support business leaders in a “courageous collective” to build a sustainable future.

I’ve always felt that business should profit from solving the world’s problems not creating the world’s problems.

In conversation with Andrew he reveals everything he’s learned about moral leadership and talks about his new book – Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take.

In addition to his many other roles Paul is also Chair of the School Board at Saïd Business School and has spoken about the important role academic institutions like ours play in creating the leaders of the future and designing the way forward.

Leadership 2050 is a podcast exploring the leadership we need to successfully transition to 2050. Who are the innovators setting the agenda for a more equal and sustainable future? In each episode Andrew talks to a visionary leader from the business community who is confronting the challenges humanity faces and finding solutions.

Andrew's research and teaching focuses on how leaders transcend 21st century challenges such as disruptive technology change and the climate crisis. Also, how they create cultures that are diverse, inclusive, resilient and high performing, alongside the ongoing challenge of delivering profitable growth. At Oxford he directs the Oxford Advanced Management Leadership Programme and works with leaders from industry and governments across the world.