The outgoing CEO of the Principles for Responsible Investment Fiona Reynolds is to take up a new role when she returns to Australia at PwC.
Reynolds announced in June she would be stepping down from her role at the end of the year to spend more time with her family in Australia.
One of her first new roles in the region is to be a founding member of the PwC Australia ESG Advisory Group to work directly with PwC clients and to assist them with their ESG pursuits and strategies. It has also been announced she will fill the role of CEO at Conexes Financial, as well as joining numerous boards in the sustainability space.
Reynolds, currently based in the UK, will form the PwC ESG Advisory Group alongside Greg Bourne and Judy Slatyer.
Bourne has been involved with climate change policy for more than 30 years having been a special advisor to UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher on energy and transport, and as regional president of BP Australasia, at the time of BP’s transition from British Petroleum to Beyond Petroleum. He was also CEO of WWF Australia, a non-executive director of Carnegie Wave Energy, and is a former chair of the Australian Renewable Energy Advisory.
Meanwhile, Slatyer has a wealth of experience in corporate, government and not-for-profit settings. She is a former CEO of the Australian Red Cross, global COO of WWF, and CEO of Lonely Planet.
PwC said the trio will offer an “outside in” perspective to help shape the impact PwC Australia can have by challenging the business and providing advice to better guide its ESG activities and priorities. It is also hoped the Advisory Group will provide PwC clients with support and leadership when it comes to their ESG commitments and strategies.
Reynolds commented: “ESG is an inevitable agenda that is only growing in momentum, and businesses of all shapes and sizes can either reap the rewards of being ahead of the curve, or rue a failure to act. This critical role will not only help PwC Australia play a leading role in the ESG revolution, but will also help drive the changes that will benefit people and the planet.”
Further group members will be announced in due course.
In a letter on the PRI’s website announcing her resignation, Reynolds said: “This has not been an easy decision—to say I’ve loved my time at PRI would be an understatement. Working alongside all of you, being a part of your RI journey and driving towards a more sustainable, green and just future has no doubt been a highlight of my career and indeed my life.
“However, spending nearly a decade in London, so far away from my home in Australia, has been deeply challenging on a personal level. The Covid-19 pandemic has made this more difficult in many ways, particularly with the ongoing closure of borders, and so has hastened my decision. The trade-offs of not being able to spend time with my family, or even being able to reach them if I needed, have simply become too high for me.”
During her time as CEO Reynolds has grown the PRI from 1,000 to 4,000 signatories, set in place the PRI’s three-year strategy and been a leading voice in the development of the responsible investing industry, which has included many collaborative efforts such as the recent Investment Leadership Programme and pushing for better standards. Reynolds also took part in ESG Clarity’s very first live Twitter Q&A.
Prior to joining PRI, Reynolds spent seven years as the CEO at the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) an association for Australian asset owners and has also formerly been a director of AUSfund, and been on the boards of Industry Funds Credit Control, Australia for UNHCR and the National Network of Women in Super Network.
In 2018, Reynolds was named by Barron’s magazine of one of the 20 most influential people in sustainability globally and by the Australian Financial Review of one of Australia’s one hundred women of influence for her work in financial services and responsible investment.
Reynolds will be in place at the PRI until the end of this year, and the body has already begun the process of appointing a successor.
In a blog, Reynolds wrote: “I want to take this opportunity to reassure you that an orderly transition will be my top priority. I will maintain my position until the New Year, working closely with the board and executive to ensure a seamless handover to the new CEO.
“The PRI Board, led by our chair, Martin Skancke, will be responsible for appointing my successor and we are already in the process of coordinating a sub-committee to focus on the search. They will shortly begin interviewing and appointing a recruitment firm to enable a strong, global search. An organisation of the calibre of the PRI, with such a clear mission and values, is sure to attract a diverse pool of candidates and I’m confident we will find an exceptional successor.”