Taking the long view

Samantha Bunyan, Cecence
Samantha Bunyan, Cecence

Samantha Bunyan, head of industry engagement and sustainability at Cecence discusses the importance of taking the long view and listening to the next generation.

 

Human beings are essentially tribal. No matter how open-minded we think we are, we are drawn to those who share our values and interests. While this makes us feel safe it is not necessarily the best approach to take, particularly when innovation and thinking beyond the norm is the key to accelerating new materials and concepts into industry.

When we started Cecence we focused in on how to be disruptive in the marketplace. If we had listened to the status-quo it is likely that we would never have achieved the in-roads that we did in introducing new composite materials and processing methodologies to the aerospace interior sector. Now that we are a known quantity we need to build on our inter-disciplinary STEAM approach, and remain open to what is being pulled through from the next generation.

The smoke signals that have pushed sustainability to the front of recent geopolitics have been multi-generational, but it would be fair to say the young have been the most creative and diligent in getting their voices heard. The composites industry has woken up to the need to take a more circular approach to manufacturing and this awakening has helped shape Cecence’s focus on the development of sustainable composites across multiple sectors. 

Remarkably, despite the clearly evidenced environmental concerns, many people of my generation still seem relatively disinterested. ‘It’s a ‘nice to have’ I suppose’, or ‘It’s all very virtuous but it’s not reality’, or ‘Who’s going to pay for it?’ are the comments most often made. Ask the same question to a Millennial or Gen Z and they appear surprised that the question has even been asked. They know the planet is ‘on fire’, view ‘cost’ in a different way and are used to taking a holistic interdisciplinary approach collaborating on projects with a desire to bring about long-term change rather than focusing mainly on executing a five-year investment plan.

A recent Forbes report revealed that a ‘majority of Generation Z (54%) state that they are willing to spend an incremental 10% or more on sustainable products, with 50% of Millennials saying the same. This compares to 34% of Generation X and 23% of Baby Boomers. It appears that with every generation, the quest for sustainability strengthens.’  

The airline passengers of tomorrow are much more aware of the need to reduce CO2 generated by polluting forms of transportation, and may well chose to travel light and slow, choosing trains over planes or staycations over long distance travel regardless of the enforced restrictions of Covid. They will do this because they want to do what they can to look after the planet that they have inherited. 

The Baby Boomers and Gen X that I belong to, have a small window in which to engage in an open dialogue with tomorrow’s innovators and leaders. We should share our mistakes as well as our successes with them and pass the baton, in the hope they will improve on what has gone before and pivot when the innovations of the 2020s are no longer relevant. If we can look at future trends not only focused on how we can exploit them for immediate effect but as part of a long-term strategy, we can ensure we play a part not only in our company’s future but that of our future employees and beneficiaries. We can make our decisions based on how what we make and design now will impact on people and the planet 50 years from now. 

https://cecence.com

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CeCence [**]

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