Jane Stevensen – A Leader with An Unsurpassable Record in Supporting Businesses in Their Sustainability Journey

The Most Influential Sustainability Leaders to Follow 2023

Success is different for everyone. Whether it’s achieving accomplishments in building a thriving business, academic prowess, public recognition, financial gain, bringing up a family, playing a musical instrument, cooking something delicious, whatever form it takes, for Jane Stevensen, Founding Director of JS Global Advisory, success comes from following a passion and striving to make a difference – and not just for her individually but for the people and the issues that matter to her.

Leading A Company to Success Is Not an Easy Road to Take

Jane’s career has taken her from the world of international oil & gas exploration to advising global organisations on environmental risk and opportunity, governance, climate strategy, and engagement across the whole spectrum of ESG. Jane’s working environment has ranged from the oil rigs of the North Sea, the rare Jarrah Forest of Western Australia, the rainforest of Papua New Guinea, to the Apennine Mountain home of the European Brown bear. Many of these places comprise fragile ecosystems with enormous environmental challenges, which led her ultimately to set up her own business.

Working in such beautiful and extraordinary locations, and with her underlying love of the natural world, a passion since Jane was a small child, led her to a clear understanding that the planet is a stakeholder in all operational activity, and through the amazing people she met and the teams she led, developed her belief that business has the potential to be a real force for good. “My journey has taken me through a route encompassing international business, commerce, academia, and the third sector. I have gained insight and experience from the oil & gas industry, academic institutions, management consultancy, financial services, and influential climate NGOs, eventually leading me to set up JS Global Advisory in 2018”. After a long career in the commercial world, Jane grasped the opportunity to spend time in the NGO sector for four years leading up to that point in 2018.

Jane was able to draw on over 20 years of experience in senior roles with leading organisations, building on expertise in creating global engagement programs and developing sustainability-driven strategies. She gained extensive international speaking experience as chair, moderator, and panellist at global events including the UN Climate Conferences most recently at COP 26 in Glasgow in November 2021, at the annual World Economic Forum meetings, the UNCTAD World Investment Forum meetings, the UN Environment Programme, New York Climate Week, and the Global Sustainable Innovation Forum events. Jane is also an advisor to a global consortium on planetary re-greening and re-balancing the carbon budget. This group is comprised of senior business leaders, high net worth individuals, academics, and policy experts, working towards developing a new framework for understanding climate change, and addressing six action areas for implementation.

Challenges Make You Stronger

When Jane started her career in the Oil industry, there were very few women in the professional world she was inhabiting, and being the lone woman was something she became very used to. There were many occasions when that could have been difficult, but she states she has a definite “glass-half-full” approach to life and has always loved a challenge. “My years in the Oil industry provided me with the opportunity to build real resilience and strength – when working on location there’s no HR department to ask questions of, and no time to ask them anyway – you have to deal with the situation as it arises. I believe that, as a woman in those situations, the combination of professionalism and clear understanding of the requirements of the working environment, together with a strong degree of empathy and understanding creates a powerful recipe for success,” she explains.

Jane’s decision to move from the commercial world to the non-profit third sector could be viewed in some ways as a roadblocking moment in a successful corporate career, but she would call it a major milestone, and a decision that in many ways was a leap of faith. She viewed this as an unprecedented opportunity to work with people whose passion for the planet resonated with her own, without the pressure of shareholder returns, and by doing so she was able to effectively contribute towards achieving the critical changes the world needs in addressing climate change.

JS Global Advisory and Its Services

JS Global Advisory works across sectors and brings particular knowledge, insight, expertise, and understanding of the natural resources and energy industries – often called the “hard-to-abate” sectors. Their approach to sustainability consulting and climate change strategy and engagement is built on a unique understanding of the diverse perspectives that influence the way governments, businesses and financial market participants address the mega-trends affecting our planet and society.

The key areas of focus for clients consist of:

Engagement programs, sustainability strategy, TCFD advisory – implementing the recommendations of the Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosures, and ESG services – providing a full service Environmental, Social, and Governance advisory capability.

Staying Abreast in A Competitive Industry

The JS Global clientele ranges from global FTSE 250 companies to small independents. Climate change and the need for a sustainable business strategy affect every business and everyone in it. From the initial launch of JS Global, Jane has built strong relationships with other major advisory organisations, and they now have working partnerships with several firms including one of the WPP Group of communications agencies, one of the world’s top-ranking global energy, research and data firms, and a highly respected and influential London and New York-based financial communications and reputation management consultancy.

The vision of JS Global in the next five years is to be able to provide the toolkit for businesses, regardless of sector or size, to address both the risks and opportunities of climate change and be part of the global solution. Moreover, they want to be able to inspire organizations to believe they really can do it and radically increase ambition to achieve much greater targets than they thought possible.

Influencing Change as A Woman in Leadership

“Part of being successful for me is being able to contribute to a wider community and give time, insight, and support to younger people. Mentoring, supporting and listening, passing on knowledge and understanding is an essential part of how I live my life,” says Jane. She is a mentor for two fantastic initiatives supporting young women – ‘INSEAD IW50’ and ‘Inspiring the Future’. She completed her MBA at INSEAD, the international business school headquartered in Fontainebleau, France, and jumped at the chance to be a mentor on their IW50 program, established in 2017 on the 50th anniversary of women joining the MBA program. Inspiring the Future is an incredible UK-based charity that matches volunteer mentors with schools, to give the students opportunities to hear from people from across the professional world and boost their motivation, attainment and prospects. The programme is particularly targeted on working with schools in underprivileged communities to inspire the future generation.

Jane’s Life Before JS Global Advisory

Before establishing the JS Global Advisory business, Jane was combining the challenges of working life with family life. She was building her career and became a director of a major Environmental Management Consultancy when she was expecting her first child and continued to work – sometimes part-time – as her family grew. She took some time out from the business world when her three sons were small, went into academia for a while as a Course Director for the University of Cambridge, becoming involved in the development of CISL, the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. Throughout all of this, her family has been the most important part of the equation. “To be able to do this requires a huge amount of planning and prioritization, a lot of help and back-up, and right at the top of the list, it’s vital to keep hold of your sense of humour!”

The start of Jane’s career was dominated by travel and adventure. Joining the international oil industry opened up a world of new and exciting environments, and a need to be self-sufficient and able to think on your feet. Plus, the occasional frisson of danger and no idea how things were going to turn out. She declares that she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Jane states, “Since establishing JS Global Advisory, it is enormously gratifying – and rather humbling – to find myself regularly invited to speak and participate at major world events, most recently for example at COP26, and recognised as a voice to be listened to, addressing the climate-change-related challenges the world faces,” She has spent almost all of her working life focused on this. “To see so much engagement now with these complex issues from business, industry, governments and institutions alike – although we have an enormous challenge ahead of us to address global warming – is incredible,” she adds.

Balance In Personal and Professional Life

As Founding Director, Jane, who defines herself as an Optimist, says that the business reflects her style and approach. She is collaborative, she likes to listen to all viewpoints, and determine the facts, but also the nuances and opinions of all the parties involved. The business is now a partnership, and her co-directors are involved in all the key decisions and client engagement.

As the world is beginning to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, our ways of working are starting to go through another period of change as we begin to get back into offices and public spaces. Jane is an early riser, a lark not an owl. The morning is spent checking the emails, working on client pitches, and responding to requests. She has a daily morning Zoom call with her senior business partner where they touch base on what’s needed for the day, review new opportunities, discuss the current projects, and generally catch up. She takes a break and if she can she gets out into the fresh air and takes her dog for a walk. Then back to her desk for the afternoon, often with client calls and reviews. Jane enjoys cooking, and dinner is usually around her kitchen table with whoever is at home from her family. She is looking forward to getting back to the theatre and opera, which she loves, and supporting the arts again.

Work-life balance is always a real challenge, and although the pandemic has been devastating for the world in many ways, Jane thinks it has shown us new ways to work and create a more realistic and healthier approach to managing our time. Spending unnecessary hours travelling is something we should be avoiding – for our health and well-being, and it reduces our carbon footprint so it’s good for the planet too. Jane claims to be a perfectionist, and second-best simply doesn’t cut it for her.