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Meet the Member: Guillaume de Vesvrotte, CO Global Sustainable Innovation, Pixelis & Founder, Sustainable Brands Paris
Member news | October 21, 2019
In our latest Meet the Member feature, we spoke with Guillaume de Vesvrotte, CO Global Sustainable Innovation at Pixelis and Founder at Sustainable Brands Paris.
Pixelis is a global branding, design and packaging agency with 90 in-house designers in Paris, and Green and Social innovation labs in Paris and NYC. Pixelis connects brands to their core values and social utility in order to design innovation strategies and find the right partners.
Keep reading to learn more about Pixelis’ ambition and Guillaume’s inspiring vision on sustainability and innovation.
FACC: Pixelis Agency is a certified B Corp and was named "Best For Workers" at Best For The World Awards 2016-2019, and rated Top Performer for Service Sector Worldwide & Gold Level by Ecovadis. The company is a 100% employee-owned, a flat and free organization, with self-defined wages and missions. According to your experience, what are the pillars needed in order to build a sustainable and socially responsible company today?
GV: First, you need to build trust.
I mean 360° trust: from your customers, if they do not understand your project you are doomed… from your shareholders, from your employees who will go through the transformation and need to know that they are doing it for a good reason, from your partners whose reputation and business efficiency is also at stake… Your whole universe is connected to this transformation, you need to bring them aboard. This trust is the first reason why you need to build a consistent and efficient community.
Your community is a way to create things together and share your goals, but also a way to gain power. No one can bring change by one’s own, even the biggest global companies need to collaborate to have a decent impact.
Then, you also need ambition. If all you want to do is clean a part of your activity for PR, then do not even try; this will create a weak brand, with empty communications and short-term income without long term growth. You need to aim at positive impact, game changing, groundbreaking projects. They often start with little things, but if you stop at these small steps, the effort is not worth it, it is not good for your sustainability, neither for your business. Ambition is key when you want to create a better world.
The good news is that becoming more sustainable, also generates more trust and gathers better communities around your company. Actually, the more sustainable you are, the more unsatisfied and ambitious you and your community will become. This is a virtuous circle.
One last thing, you should never forget humans. Even if your sustainability strategy is perfect, without the right people to believe in it and activate, it will not work. Think Human. People have needs, wishes, dreams; play with it to bring a top-of-the-line CSR strategy to life.
FACC: Pixelis already made an incredible positive impact on leading multinationals, global brands and SMEs, as well as on social and green startups. In an ever-changing world, faced with new challenges every day, reinventing oneself is a requirement. Where is Pixelis heading now? What are some of your goals for the near future?
GV: Within a few years, we freed our organization, put a total transparency policy in place, became B-Corp and Ecovadis certified, became a major Branding For Good agency globally, created the largest event in Europe on Sustainability and Innovation, incubated or launched more than 120 green and social start-ups and positive impact projects, and we still have so much to do… We continue to help brands to design and produce their packaging, store design, branding and positioning, of course. Our wish is to expand in the US with our high level skills on Green and social innovation, Future of Retail, Packaging sustainability, VR, AI, Urban Food, Sustainable and Circular Fashion… and also to partner with more and more organizations to scale up Pixelis as a transformative agent of business for good. I think the biggest challenge will be to maximize our positive impact, as well as generating growth… Maybe we are at the edge of showing that growth should be measured with impact.
FACC: You also launched Sustainable Brands Paris, the biggest event in Europe on Sustainability and Innovation. In less than a year, you gathered 97 international partners, 70 global brands, and built a team of 106. Over three thousand, C Suite professionals from more than 30 countries attended the event in Paris. To what do you attribute the success of building an event of that scale, in such a small amount of time?
GV: To be honest, at the beginning of the project, everybody around us thought we were crazy! But we proved our vision, and I think that a huge part of the success is due to an accurate vision and positioning. A lot of brands and actors had been waiting for this to happen.
Then we gathered our community around us for this project. Nothing would have been possible if it had been just us. But, 97 partners is like a little army. We were receiving calls from all around the globe, thanks to the energy and commitment of our different networks, properly animated by our teams. I would say that this success was due, first, to our ability to gather all these community and energies around us, and secondly, to the trust we already had from our day-to-day partners. This has been a very collective adventure.
FACC: Wearing several hats, you seem fully invested in each of your projects. How do you manage to invest the right level of energy and effort in each project? What advice would you give to our proactive Young Executives who want to transform their thoughts into actions?
GV: Having several projects is a need, not a will - with curiosity, your job generates new ideas and you need to explore them. Sometimes it becomes a business, sometimes not. But you need to spend time on it if you want to figure out. This is a tricky situation. Very often, you fail to prioritize properly and find yourself overwhelmed, even after 20 years of experience.
I always keep a personal space, a moment in the day when I can reflect and ask to myself what I am doing today - exploration, inspiration, business as usual, sales, …, and why. Sometimes it takes 5 minutes, and sometimes I need a full hour. But usually, I use my shower time ;).
Eventually, the more activity you have, the more accurate your schedule becomes, but this should never lead to a lack of inspiration - this is as important as generating cash. If you do not have a lot of time, make it count: When you only have 5 breakfasts in the week, and if you want to see your family sometimes, you have to make the ones you take outside VERY inspiring and attractive.
I have another rule: never start a new project if you do not have a link, a connection. You need a central focus to do things right, even if your projects seem very far from each other. Pixelis, Sustainable Brands, and every single project I work on, have a purpose in common and resonate one in each other. Very often, my projects have common parts and shared added value.
And my last advice would be: never go for it alone. If you want to cover several projects, then gather partners and teams. Find the right people, and you will be able to run any number of projects, by bringing only what you are good at.
FACC: How did you hear about the French American Chamber of Commerce and what are you most looking forward as a member?
GV: Some partners I work with took me to the FACC once, and I liked the energy. As a member, I am looking to connect with more brands and organizations, to help our extension in the US, and of course offer our expertise of the European Market.I am also wishing to create more conversations on sustainability and innovation internationally and help organizations to work on this.
Interested in connecting with Guillaume? Log into the FACC Member Directory to send him a message.