“The reason why I am doing my job is that I am making a difference”, Richard Pancost.
What is your job about?
I am the Director of the Cabot Institute. As a company we are all about climate change and procuring energy, water and sustainable food. We also care about ethics and inclusion but at the end of the day we are water, energy, food and climate change and how we live with that and how we do that sustainably. Food, water, energy are interconnected problems and therefore require integrated solutions.
What issues do you address?
As a University we must take a role in being problem solvers. In terms of education, it is about preparing our students to solve problems.
What moved you into action?
First of all my interest in being involved with something that allowed me to try to solve the problems. At Cabot we are interested in knowing and acknowledging the problems but we are much more interested in people’s skills and aspirations to come up with solutions. The other aspect was to take on a role which I would be personally challenged and stimulated on everyday.
The Institute has a budget of £250,000 a year, it is stable and it allows me to work with clever people rather than just keep the salaries paid. The reason why I am doing the job is that I am making a difference and I am always inspired and stimulated by really intelligent people.
What were the obstacles that you had to overcome?
I think one of the major obstacles is empowering people to join you on the journey. I am not talking about incentivizing and making people willing to participate, they are already very keen to do that, but I am referring to making people willing to step up and become leaders themselves. Furthermore, the lifestyle we have now is what we are comfortable in and to bring change is hard and scary. Uncertainty is another factor that gives us an excuse to not make hard choices.
What first prompted you to become interested in environmental issues and when was that?
I grew up in a farm, I was always fairly connected with nature but everything was less about the connection with nature and more about the connection of what it is right and what it is fair. Because I think that most of these issues are issues of fairness. I think that if all of us were doing exactly the same thing and all of us were facing the consequences of our actions equally, then it would be good and fair but actually it is not, it is very unfair and that is what I think drives me.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very happy) where would you rate how you feel about your life?