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Meet Hugh Allspaugh – The New CMO At Emex

Today we have selected Hugh Allspaugh to take his interview. He is the new CMO at Emex.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Despite all of the challenges of the past 20 months since the pandemic has profoundly changed the world, I am doing very well. I have been very fortunate in that I can easily work remotely.  

I feel most sorry for the young people during this pandemic. Knowing the experiences my son and daughter have both had, I can’t imagine starting my working career from my living room office and not interacting with colleagues socially. While I have loved being at home, not commuting or traveling, the isolation has been tough on the younger generations, which are valuable in bringing fresh perspectives and ideas to organizations. It’s hard to generate that same energy from a video call.

Tell us about your career and how you founded or joined this company? 

My career has been a journey of constant discovery, resilience, and evolution. Over the past 30+ years, I have worked for many agencies, including Ogilvy, with worldwide positions. In 2014, I joined a brand design firm called VSA Partners in Chicago, where I was able to work with CEOs and their leadership teams. Here, my work leading purpose-driven organizational change initiatives with clients exposed me to the power of purpose and the broader concepts of sustainability. I also sat on the Sappi sustainability council between 2016 and 2021.  

Earlier this year, Richard Wall, the CEO of Emex and an old friend, called me and shared his vision. Emex has all the right foundations as an EHS and ESG software platform to help businesses bridge the gap between their sustainability ambitions and actions. Like many people these days, I was looking for a role where I felt like I could build and lead a purpose-driven brand. Emex is just that, and I am invigorated to know I am now doing my part to make the world a little better truly.

How does your company innovate? 

Our innovation teams are rooted in design thinking which, while not surprising, is very important. We are committed to human-centered design. Our products and solutions are developed to solve real human problems, which, in turn, benefit business performance. To do this, we harness innovative technologies and systems thinking to meet the highest demands of our changing world.

But what I think makes our innovation – and Emex as a company – unique is our people. We are proactive thinkers and relentless pursuers of truth. Our team is diverse, brilliant, and obsessed with addressing tomorrow’s challenges. And this includes hiring former accountants and management consultants who are in sales. Adding engineers to the strategic team. I think these diverse perspectives will help us innovate faster and hopefully be more productively disruptive. 

How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

Coronavirus has exposed how vulnerable our business and societal systems are too extreme climate events or a pandemic. Climate change is highlighting the importance of sustainability for business resilience. Moving forward, more companies need to understand their climate impact and have clear plans to reduce it. We believe our solution is central to helping companies establish a true baseline and take meaningful actions to advance their progress towards being more sustainable.

Another critical element the pandemic exposed is the S for ‘social’ in ESG, highlighting the importance of wellness and caring for people. At Emex, we have been empathetic to the stresses Covid-19 has caused our employees and their families. We’ve encouraged outreach and flexibility and the importance of partnership and support. Now that getting together in person is a bit easier, we have started to hold company workshops again – which have been great to set our refreshed business strategy for the next five years.   

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons? 

Fortunately, we did not. But we have been thinking about our work from home and return to work policies and believe that our employees should control their choices that affect their wellbeing and safety.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis? This is a great opportunity to discuss your collaboration, trust, and problem-solving culture. Any specific thoughts or examples? 

Our team is dispersed globally, with many working groups across multiple locations. When lockdowns started to be put in place, we already had the right management processes and software tools to transition smoothly to remote working. Over time, we kept a close eye on employee wellbeing, which, like many other businesses, was arguably our biggest challenge. Our approach has been to use technology to support human connection, notably through daily check-ins and company-wide virtual events to keep everyone engaged. Tools like Mural have also been great for brainstorming and breaking through some of the awkwardness of video conference calls!   

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?  

Our competitors include the likes of SAP and some of the more specialist players with a foundation in the EHS (environment, health, and safety) space. The players getting into sustainability continue to grow, taking various approaches to sustainability and reporting challenges.  

But we’re competing against the magnitude and complexity of the problem itself. The lack of quality data collection and bringing together disparate data sets that companies need to collect to have actionable outcomes. Emex’s approach focuses on quality in the caliber of people we attract and our unrelenting focus on quality data collection. This will be essential to generating the data intelligence needed to help companies turn their ambitions into action. 

Your final thoughts   

Sustainability is the most complex challenge of our lifetime, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But we believe there can be one platform, Emex, that can effectively bridge the gap between corporate ambitions and their effective actions. 

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