Speaker’s Corner: Featuring Pete Baker, Head of People and Culture at Plastic Bank

Tell me about Plastic Bank, its work and projects… 

We are stopping ocean plastic while improving the lives of those who help collect it.  We build ethical recycling ecosystems in coastal communities and reprocess the materials for reintroduction into the global manufacturing supply chain. Collectors receive a premium for the materials they collect to better help them provide basic family necessities such as groceries, school tuition, and health insurance. The collected material is reborn as Social Plastic® which is reintegrated into products and packaging. This creates a closed-loop supply chain while helping those who collect it.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way you go about business? What trends do you see for the future?

We have a network of 17,000 collectors, and Covid has made it more difficult to connect with them and ensure we are supporting them.  But our people have found creative ways to make these connections and our impact has continued to grow during the pandemic.   For our global team, we have always been location-free – and most of our management team is dispersed around the globe.

But perhaps for us, the most interesting element of Covid is that it has caused many people to re-evaluate what they want from their careers.  In particular, people are looking for greater purpose and meaning in their work.  This is great news for organizations like us.   We are constantly looking for people who are dedicated to changing the world by stopping ocean plastic and improving the lives of people in coastal communities.

In what ways have you integrated diversity, inclusion, and culture at Plastic Bank?

Our flexible approach has been a huge enabler of diversity and inclusion.  People in many roles can do their work from any location globally, and this has allowed us to access diverse talent that works flexibly. 

What is your biggest objective as a speaker?

My biggest objective is always to learn from my fellow speakers!

Could you share with us the points of discussion (the input that you provided) during the panel(s) at HR Summit Expo?

I was on a panel and spoke about how agile organization design can be an enabler of career growth for employees. 

As a leader, what are the factors both professional and personal that drive you? What keeps you going?

I want to be in a place where I can connect to a more meaningful purpose.  That’s why I am delighted to be part of an organization that is doing good for the world. 

In your opinion, do digital events give you a similar level of feedback/result vis-à-vis the live versions? What would you say were the biggest pros and cons of both formats? Which do you prefer?  

I still prefer the engagement and the interaction of a live event.  Live events spark more spontaneous connections.

What is your take on in-person events? Do you prefer in-person events as compared to hybrid or virtual? How soon do you think in-person events would return? 

I still prefer the engagement and the interaction of a live event.  Live events spark more spontaneous connections.

In your opinion, what are the top 3 challenges to returning to ‘In-Person’ events? How could we mitigate risks?

My main concern is that people are still reluctant to travel and companies may not willing to take the risk of having their employees exposed.  New Covid variants and the changing rules mean that it may be a long time before business travel resumes at the same pace.

Eventible has recently launched a B2B Interactive in Person Event Tracker – the tracker shows you in-person events going live in various parts of the world. Do you think this is useful?

Yes, it will be good to get some data on how fast live events are bouncing back. 

Eventible.com is a review platform catering to B2B events. Given how review-driven our lives have become today, do you think reviews will bring in a level of transparency to the events industry? Would you rely on event reviews from other speakers if you had to make a speaking decision? 

Yes, I think it’s good to have some transparency. 

Finally, do you have a favorite mocktail or drink? We’d be delighted to know.

I am Australian so I typically default to a nice Australian Merlot (red wine). 

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