Let’s Talk: Sustainability
Getting back from giving back

Nathan Hart is a firm advocate in the value of volunteering; you could even say it runs in his blood. His passion stems from an early age when family tragedy left an indelible mark and belief in the importance of giving back and leaving the world a better place. Nathan began his NTT career in cybersecurity but when the pandemic hit, took the opportunity to reflect and evaluate his career choices. Keen to return to his passion and his education, he changed course and now spends time doing what he loves. Here is his story from security to sustainability.

How did you make the change from cybersecurity to sustainability?

I’ve always been passionate about volunteer work. When Covid hit I took a moment to just reflect and take stock and decided that I wanted to get closer to my passion for volunteering and helping to support society. I put myself forward for working on some sustainability projects alongside my day job. Then in 2021, NTT appointed its first sustainability officer and in the August of that year a position opened up on the team. I applied and was thrilled to get the job. Soon after Vicky Bullivant was appointed as our new SVP for Sustainability and that gave me the chance to shift focus a little to concentrate on volunteering and social impact, which is where I’ve been working this past year.

What drives your passion for volunteering?

My grandfather was into environmental stewardship in a big way. He believed that we should all be leaving something in a better state than when we found it. I guess it runs in the family. My aunt, her husband and children spent significant amounts of time in Nepal every year helping local people to build hydro-electric dams amongst other activities. Then in 1992 they died tragically in a plane crash. I was only a year old at the time so it was something I knew about but never asked. Now that I’m older I often find I look back to try to uncover more and their work seems to speak to my long-term passion in sustainability. I’ve never been to Nepal but it’s on my list of things to do and something I want to continue with the legacy and the charity they set up. There was a lot of news coverage of their death so with the proceeds a trust fund was set up that still helps local people in Nepal today.

How does NTT encourage its employees to volunteer?

Within NTT Ltd our employees are encouraged to take three days off a year to spend time volunteering, either in one of the activities organized by us, or something that they support personally. Currently the take up is lower than we would like with around 3-4% taking the full three days. As we’ve worked to improve that figure, we’ve trialed some different formats and found that where we organized volunteer events, uptake increased significantly. For instance, during our first corporate clean up event we had upwards of 1,000 volunteers participating. We saw how having a campaign approach helped to align people and teams so we’ve now started to run quarterly volunteer campaigns with a single focus.

What is this quarter’s theme?

This quarter we are going to align our volunteer program to a central theme: From Earth to Ocean. The aim of this is to galvanize a sense of connectedness around an important sustainability topic and drive employee engagement and interest in supporting key initiatives. We are holding four quarterly events where we offer employees volunteer leave aligned to a core theme. For instance, in December our focus was on Global Giving which is all about how people can think about giving back to society. During this campaign we had over 2,000 employees taking part in 76 different local events held across 24 countries. This helped us to contribute more than 3,000 hours of volunteering for local charities. Our World Clean Up day attracted around 6% of employees taking part globally and proved a popular and successful team building exercise. Due to their success, we will repeat our World Clean Up Day and Global Giving activities again this year with the aim of additional events in more countries, higher employee engagement, and ultimately make a bigger impact.

What are you most excited about this year?

This year we are embarking on a new global mentoring program run by a U.S. based charity. Its aim is to support underprivileged students in their final year of education. We help the students as they transition from academia into the workplace. The students are primarily, but not all, from countries in Africa such as; Uganda, Ghana, Zambia and Rwanda among others. Some students are even refugees living in camps and trying to start a new life for themselves. We help them to build their LinkedIn profile, create a CV and report on progress. It offers an alternative for employees who don’t want to go out litter picking or who would rather help remotely. The commitment required is one hour per week for a total of 14 hours. So far we’ve had over 75 sign ups from our employees across 17 countries and we hope to build on that over the year.

How do you feel about your job now?

I feel honored and privileged to be in my role. I had very little experience when I first began but put a lot of effort into leading the change so for me Covid was actually a help. The work I do now makes me happy because I know it’s having a big impact, which is really important to me, so I’m truly privileged to be doing this on a global basis.

What would be your advice to others to encourage them into volunteering?

I’d say it’s easy to be busy but volunteering is really important and shows others that you are trying to find the time to give something back. The feeling that it gives you is so rewarding and helps to improve mental health, will reinvigorate you and even make you more productive. The impact we can all have is huge. If all 40,000 employees were to spend the three days allowed to them for volunteer work that would equate to 120,000 days of service giving back to our society and special causes. It’s also a brilliant opportunity for getting your team together and doing something with a shared purpose, enjoying the fresh air and doing good at the same time.

Nathan Hart

Based in the UK, Nathan works as the Senior Sustainability Volunteering Specialist for the Global Risk & Sustainability Team at NTT Ltd. He joined the company through a role in cybersecurity with NTT Security in 2019 before the company was folded into NTT Ltd. as part of a global consolidation. Nathan moved across to a new role in sustainability in 2021 where he has been building the program and volunteer campaigns. He has a background in environmental sustainability having studied the topic at university and a passion for sustainability. Nathan manages his day job alongside looking after his young twins in the Welsh countryside.

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