Meet Munish Datta our Director of Sustainability

A passion for the crucial role every sector of society – government, business, civic, individuals – must play to create a truly equitable, inclusive, sustainable world, meet Munish.

‘I feel very lucky to be able to activate this personal purpose in my role as Director of Sustainability for an organisation that plays such an important role in improving the quality of life for millions of people worldwide.’ 

What was your background before joining Specsavers?
Outside of my work in Specsavers, I am a Fellow at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and Visiting Fellow of University of Cambridge Judge Business School, where I work with senior business leaders & organisations to tackle critical global challenges. I am also Senior Independent Advisor to BNP Paribas Real Estate Investment Management UK and trustee of sustainable development charity and social enterprise, Bioregional.

Tell me a little bit about your journey at Specsavers?
I have worn specs since the age of 13 and always received wonderful service in my many visits to Specsavers stores over the years. In many ways, we have grown up together, a bond further enhanced by our iconic adverts. So, it was fantastic when I was invited to advise the business in a consultative capacity at times between 2019 and 2022. The more I got to know to the organisation from the inside, the more I admired its purpose, values, and culture so much so that I jumped at the chance of joining in my current role in June 2022. It was destined.

Can we hear about your journey into working sustainability?
From October 2018 till May 2022, I was director at the NGO UK Green Building Council, responsible for leading the organisations membership strategy and accelerating the delivery of its mission to radically improve the sustainability of the built environment. This gave me the chance to learn from working in the third sector and across a whole industry.

A very enjoyable and formative part of my career was with Marks & Spencer where, for 21y, till 2018, I led cross business teams to design and deliver the multi award winning, globally renowned sustainability strategy (Plan A), for its operations including a 1000+ buildings property portfolio. Not only did my time at M&S teach me about the world of work, I learnt how to devise and deliver a corporate sustainability which brought environmental, social and commercial success.

How has Specsavers helped and supported your development?
I feel very fortunate to have a remit that allows me to work with and more importantly, learn from the full spectrum of colleagues and partners that work right across our value chain. From design, sourcing, manufacturing to operations, finance, marketing, and customer engagement. Working across all areas in a new industry really appeals to my personal need for lifelong learning.

What gives you pride in your role working in sustainability?
Empowering individuals and organisations, to leverage their personal and collective influence, to challenge the status quo, and seize the opportunity to create positive outcomes for the natural world & all parts of society.

How do you feel like you’re making an impact on our sustainability goals?
At Specsavers, I get to practise this philosophy which is really satisfying. The first part of any journey is knowing the destination you are aiming for and what difference it will make when you get there. I guess this is where we have got to in the last 12months – clarity about where we want to go and why we want to get there. Make a positive impact in society by caring for our people, the communities in which we serve, and to the planet we all share. We are now designing the roadmap to get to this destination and have taken small and very important foundational steps.

What have you learnt during your time at Specsavers?
That there is so much more to learn! Optometry and audiology are unique, specialist industries with a combination of clinical care and product and people centric retailing. Working for an organisation which has such a powerful, caring purpose, improving human health, is really energy giving. Underpinning this is a unique partnership model which unites and supports thousands of small businesses to thrive.

What would you say to encourage someone thinking about applying for a sustainability role at Specsavers?
There are very few organisations which can truly achieve the holy grail of corporate sustainability – the elusive ‘triple bottom line’. Creating commercial success, improving social equity with positive planetary outcomes. You have a unique opportunity to be part of this journey to make your unique, invaluable contribution.

Why do you love working in sustainability at Specsavers?
Being able to align three things:

  1. Improving the sight and hearing of millions of people
  2. Creating positive outcomes for local communities and our planet
  3. Working across every part of a value chain, with amazing colleagues and partners, all over the world

What one word would you use to describe the Specsavers culture?
Ubuntu – a Zulu term which is translated as “I am because you are” or more broadly “humanity towards others”.

Finally, tell us a little bit about yourself outside of work 
I contribute to causes important to me such as being a Governor at my son’s school and a trustee of Rama Foundation, a UK charity building the capacities and skills of disadvantaged communities in rural India. I spend a lot of time volunteering my time to deliver sustainable development projects in India. I’m proud to be of Indian origin, African birth and British upbringing, which enables me to appreciate and enjoy the richness of diversity.

Are you passionate about creating a truly equitable, inclusive and sustainable world? 

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