News & Views

Member Spotlight: Inge Huijbrechts explains how a four-year boat ride influenced her career, leading her to become VP of Responsible Business at Carlson Rezidor

12/19/2017

Inge

We recently spoke with Inge Huijbrechts (@I_Huijbrechts), Vice President, Responsible Business at Carlson Rezidor, about what inspires her work on sustainability.

In addition to being an active Corporate Member, Inge also serves on Sustainable Brands’ Advisory Board. Keep reading to learn more about one of SB’s community leaders, how a four-year boat journey around the world influenced Inge’s career and her message for members as we head into the new year.

What project are you most excited about right now?

IH: We have just finalized our contribution to Carlson Rezidor’s brand-new, five-year strategic plan with ambitious targets for our three focus areas: Think People, Think Community and Think Planet. We’ll start working towards these in 2018.

This next major phase of our Responsible Business strategy builds on previous successes and plans. It includes important new steps in the areas of water stewardship and long-term decarbonization of our operations. In that respect we are testing innovations, such as the first industrial-size fuel cell for combined heat and power (CHP) in a hotel in Europe – installed in our Radisson Blu Frankfurt.

We are also in the process of signing up a new global charity partnership after working for three years on providing safe drinking water for life to over 17,500 people in Kenya, India and Peru.

What inspires and drives you to work on sustainability?

IH: I’m inspired by the beauty of nature and try to incorporate balance and creativity in my everyday work. Ever since I shifted my career to sustainability, every day is exciting. I feel my work contributes to a bigger purpose. Practicing and leading responsible business in a worldwide hotel company is a fantastic job given the sheer extent of the topics – from engineering questions and renewable energy innovations to human rights and meaningful community engagement.

I’m equally inspired by the people in our 1,400 hotels around the world. They make me proud and put a smile on my face. Recently, a housekeeping supervisor of our Radisson Blu in Congo Brazzaville wrote and recorded a song about how Radisson supports people and the planet, sending a fabulous African vibe!

Can you share something about yourself that would surprise us? Any hidden talents?

IH: Ten years ago, I sailed from Belgium to Australia on a boat with my ex-husband. The journey took four years along some of the world’s most remote and remarkable places. When we left, we gave up very good careers and sold our house and everything in it. We lived differently during these years and had the opportunity to meet many fantastically generous people. The many hours spent contemplating the ocean and the stars inspired me to shift careers and work in sustainability.

If you had unlimited time and resources, what type of work would you want to collaborate with fellow SB Members on?

IH: I would love to capture the innovation and view of global youth. Through a shadow (or leading) advisory board – let the next generation tell us what the good life and good consumption should look like.

We would certainly also be interested in collaborating on projects that help to reduce carbon and water footprints, tackle youth unemployment or promote human rights – collectively supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 ,10, 12 and 13.

What do you work on in your free time?

IH: I’m a yoga teacher and try to teach from time to time. On the first of January this year I gave my friends the gift of a yoga class to kick off 2017 – admittedly, it was hard to get them out of bed on January 1st. I also ride horses and just love to be in nature generally.

Why is your participation in the SB Member Network important?

IH: Sustainable Brands is an amazing community of remarkable people. There’s also good business sense to it with a focus on how to make our companies even more sustainable in their core and how to drive consumer demand for products and services with a purpose.

The Member Network is also a strong, fun group full of like-minded people with the same ‘Good Life’ mission, big hearts and sharp minds.

Anything else you'd like to share with fellow SB Members?

IH: I would like to say ‘thank you’ to the SB Members, for providing inspiration and for challenging us. I look forward to 2018, a year where we will be redesigning The Good Life and hopefully starting to work on collaborations.

Company: 
Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

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