B4SI News

In conversation with Emili Budell-Rhodes

Please describe your role and responsibilities, how many years you have been in the company?

I have been with RELX Group for just over three and a half years. As Community Manager, I have a global role within the Corporate Responsibility team where I lead our community investment corporate strategy and policy. A key part of my role entails managing a network of over 220 community champions across 22 countries, representing over 70% of global offices.

Other responsibilities include managing key external partnerships, including grant programmes and special projects, driving employee engagement and promoting collaboration and innovation across different internal departments and business divisions. I am also a member of the LBG Steering Group.

What was your background previously and where did your interest in community begin?

I worked in the charity sector for five years before taking this role, my first time in the private sector; prior I worked in the public sector. My passion for community engagement began with my first job following university at the Brighton & Hove City Council Hate Crime Team. I helped coordinate cross-sector initiatives and forums to address various challenges in the city in the areas of racial harassment, domestic violence and refugee integration. I was fascinated to see how the statutory, voluntary and community sectors worked together to co-create solutions at the local level.  After that, I spent nearly a year in a small mountain town in the south of Mexico managing a local after-school project for children from indigenous backgrounds.  It which was a huge learning experience on a personal as well as a professional level and fostered a real belief in education as a critical component of sustainable development.

How has your community investment program evolved at your company?

While the core focus has always been on education and employee-led, skills-based volunteering and leveraging our technology expertise and assets are increasingly at the forefront of our community investment. So while the general framework hasn’t changed, the type of engagement has evolved.

What are the challenges you encounter in driving the sustainability agenda and how do you stay inspired?

It can sometimes be frustrating when things aren’t moving quite as fast as I would like. Anyone working in sustainability probably shares that feeling from time to time! I have learned, however, that patience usually pays off, and that it is worth putting in the extra time to ‘get it right’ – position things the right way, get the right level of buy-in, find the right partner and spend time on scoping out what the partnership will entail in terms of commitments and mutual benefits, and be clear about the desired impact and crucially gain feedback.

To stay inspired I try to keep the big picture in mind, that is, the purpose of my role and the fact that even if in a small way, I can personally make a difference. I also get a lot of motivation and energy from the people I work with, internal colleagues and outside peers.

What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?

Any solution is far more effective and powerful when it has been co-created.  I have learned (and am still learning) to challenge my own biases which is really hard, especially when you are not always aware you have a bias in the first place, and when you are under pressure to get things done. The key is to create an environment of trust and open dialogue, where all feedback is valued, even if it goes against one’s own assumptions and beliefs.

What is your motto in life?

Stay curious and keep exploring.

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