The new Syensqo 'And is the Future' podcasts hosted by CEO Ilham Kadri will be a continuation of the former Solvay editions that concluded after the spin off of Syensqo in December 2023.
Did you know there’s a $12 trillion business case for implementing the SDGs?
According to sustainable leadership expert Marga Hoek, implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in business can lead to incredible business opportunities - in fact it’s a $12 trillion business case! Ilham has a fascinating discussion with Marga about how business for good is good for business, the attributes that make a good sustainable CEO, the importance of mentoring and much more.
1:22 - Upbringing and what ballet taught her about leadership
7:00 - The $12 trillion dollar business case for implementing the SDGs
12:16 - Business for good is good for business
15:08 - What attributes make a sustainable CEO?
19:35 - Tech for good
25:32 - Great examples of businesses doing good
31:33 - Lessons learned as CEO
35:53 - The importance of mentoring
40:54 - Motherhood and entrepreneurship
Meet Marga Hoek
Marga Hoek, one of the top leaders on sustainable business, is a three-time CEO and the author of a best selling book called The Trillion Dollar Shift, which highlights the incredible business opportunities for companies that work to achieve the United Nations sustainable development goals. Marga is considered one of the most influential thought leaders in the transition towards a more sustainable world.
Ilham Kadri: Today I'm very happy to be speaking with Marga Hoek, one of the great top leaders on sustainable business I've met in my life. Marga is a three time CEO and in 2018 she published a best selling book called The Trillion Dollar Shift, which highlights the incredible business opportunities for companies that work to achieve the United Nations sustainable development goals. So she indeed is the perfect person to discuss the power of the AND, the A-N-D, how we can make businesses both sustainable AND profitable. I'm really looking forward to this conversation. Marga, thank you so much for being here.
Marga Hoek: Thank you Ilham. Thank you for your beautiful introduction. It's a pleasure to be here with you.
Upbringing and what ballet taught her about leadership
Ilham Kadri: Yeah. I'm so proud to have you. And you know, Marga always likes to start by finding out what motivates my guests. Right. Can you tell us a bit about your upbringing and what shaped who you are today? I know that as a young girl you seriously studied ballet, right? Did that influence the leader you have become today and your path towards sustainability?
Marga Hoek: Absolutely. I think everything you go through, you experience and you are given while being brought up and developing as a young person impacts you and it's important. And while you make me look back a long time ago, now Ilham.
Ilham Kadri: You are a young, young woman
Marga Hoek: So, but yeah, going back a long time, let's say in my early days, what was important to me is that I loved art as a young child, very much, it was not necessarily something in my background, but I really loved it. I took on ballet because I thought it was a very beautiful art form which you create with your own person, with your own body even. And that was an inspiration to me. Creating your own art in a way. Yeah, yeah. Also because it was difficult, you know, ballet is something which you have to endure a lot of pain. It needs a lot of perseverance. You have to push your boundaries all the time because your body will resist and your mind has to push yourself through. And also it shaped me in a way because, you know, I was the type of girl that went to school. Then after school, I took the train. Thinking back, I'm actually surprised my parents allowed me to do so at the age of 11, 12 years old. But well, went to Amsterdam, into the ballet academy, and there another life started. And then you had your lessons, you were fully focused on that. Went back home, came home at 8 at night, had some food and then I had to prepare for the next school day, but in a little amount of time. So I learned, you know, to be able to switch my mind to different things, to really think about what is the most important, what do I need to do, and what can be, you know, disregarded or less important. I learned to push myself and to have discipline, to be able to do all those things. So that gave me a lot and it gave me a lifelong love for art. Because art, I think, is in this world, and even if you think about today, so tremendously important because it connects people, it unites people, it helps us to understand things. I mean, it precedes reality because people in art are not limited, in the way that, let's say we business people are. So it's an attempt to bring, let's say, order in a chaos that's often around us. So it has so many important things. So that part was very important. I think another part in my upbringing that was extremely valuable, and to be honest, I only learned to really appreciate it only later in time, which happens with so many things in life, don't they? And that was an important role model in my life. My grandfather, and he proceeded his time, he's probably the biggest hero in my life. He was a captain on a ship. And in a captain, literally, you have the responsibility for everybody on that ship and even their lives. He was a politician and politics nowadays, not a very popular topic, but he learned me the true value of what it means to think for politics, for policies, for the wider system that was important to him. He was a very creative person and always learning. And he was a holistic person. And I only realized that later, of course. But, and then for me, he was the person. I could ask him whatever kind of question and we would talk about it. And most of the time he would know the answers to those questions, but if he didn't, he said, if I don't know the answers, what we can do is think together, isn't that a beautiful thing? And then we were thinking together and exploring together in a very open way. And that gave me a lot that I took on in my later life, you know? To be a holistic person, to be open-minded, to embrace the unknown. He was a person that was very active in the resistance in the second World War. So I also got the context of standing for your principles, whatever, whatever and you know, also if it came to sacrifices and in my work in sustainability, that's extremely important because he told me, you know, Marga think things through. Have a wise opinion and informed opinion. Take a decision and stand behind it and fight for your principles. And that is, you know, those are thoughts that are with me today, even every day.
The $12 trillion dollar business case for implementing the SDGs
Ilham Kadri: Wow. So wise opinions, educated opinions sent behind your values. And we have this in common, Marga because my grandmother was my first role model for leadership as well. She taught me about the value of education that we didn't have a luxury to waste at that time.
So it's great to have those early role models in our lives. I mean, obviously you wrote the best selling book called The Trillion Dollar Shift. I'm jealous. I wished I wrote your book, right? And I really enjoy this Mahan and I recommend it to everyone in the book you make the important point that 69 of the world’s, biggest economies are actually corporations. So this means there is a lot of potential for business to do good, to be better and, and to impact. And in fact, I found this even more fascinating. I have the honor, as you know, Marga how to lead the, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. And we are working with more than 200 companies to achieve the sustainable development goals. And actually you, as you show in the book, there is 12 trillion dollar business case to achieve the SDGs because they open up new markets, they open up opportunities. So, and I found it when I met you and you offered me the book, I found it the perfect example of the power of the AND. And you also said something which resonates with me, that sustainable companies outperform non-sustainable ones, ones with much higher growth and returns. Can you explain to our audience this $12 trillion dollar business case?
Marga Hoek: Yes, of course. And you've said a lot already, Ilham, about that. But yes, to start with the first notion you made, you know, nowadays the power of business is a bigger power than anything else. So, as you mentioned, of the 100 largest economies in the world, 69 are in fact corporations and not countries that is much larger extent than in the past. So we need to reset our expectations as to who will change the world for the better, also, who is able to invest in the world for the better. If we look at the global GDP, for instance, imagine that 87% of our global GDP is private, only 13% nowadays is public. And I find it's important to say because, you know, often people in business then say, oh, the government has to pick this up or politics have to arrange, but you know, we make the biggest piece of the pie in terms of transformational change and capital. So that is, that is very, very important. What I wanted to achieve in, and of course 2018 is already relatively a long time ago if you talk about the transition and how we proceed on it. But in 2018, still a lot of people talked about sustainable business. Yes, that's nice. I would like to do it, but it will cost money. It's easier to do it the current way. If you talk about investments, yes. But investing sustainably will cost more because of course there's additional work to be done and, the profits are less secure. And I wanted to make everybody aware that this is not the case anymore. That that's, you know, habits from the past, it's not relevant anymore. And we should be aware that, you know, the SDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals, need business as much as business need, the sustainable development goals. And by that I mean that the biggest growth opportunities moving forward are actually in sustainable markets, are by addressing the world's challenges. And by doing so, your business will be more resilient, more profitable in the long term, and also ready for the future. Because we all are aware that next generations are much more inclined to vote with their wallets when it comes to sustainability, and to prove that in a way that it's appealing to people. Because I very much believe in the power of positive motivation. You know, I believe that if people feel empowered, they can make a change and have an impact, they're much more inclined to do so. And for that reason, I literally wrote a book about a 12 trillion dollar shift, as you mentioned. It's been researched by the Global Business Commission that these new opportunities, we present a value 12 trillion dollars till 2030, and that's a market shift. And by engaging in a positive way to these sustainable development goals, companies can actually unlock markets that are fast growing and profitable. So there's no reason not to do it. And that's actually the thought behind the book. It's a shared value perspective. Where sustainability and profitability are positively synergized.
Business for good is good for business
Ilham Kadri: And I love it because you talk about that positive motivation, right? Where people feel empowered. And I think you wrote a book, when was it? Uh, it was 2014, right? It's amazing now that we are in 2022 and everything you said resonates. You actually coined the slogan business for good. And as you say, business for good is good for business. And when you see now eight years after you published your book, that more than ever this 12 trillion dollar shift is probably has increased with, the climate change challenges with decarbonation, with green hydrogen, EV batteries, hybrid. And I often say I belong to the chemical industry has been part of the problem, but it's also part of the solution. And you show in your book the same can be said for businesses as a whole. What exactly did that mean to you when you wrote the book in 2014 and what does it mean today? This business for good is good for business?
Marga Hoek: Well, in 2014, my thoughts were ahead of the curve, so to say. And I can still remember when writing that book at a certain moment in time, I was pretesting it with some journalist and they'll said, you are calling it new economy and you cannot do that and people will think about the internet bubble and it's way in the future and won't work. Well, this, that and the other. And I thought, no, it's my vision. I think this is what we should aim for, to really repurpose the economy as a whole and thinking about the assets of the worlds not only being the financial assets, but the ecological and the social assets because, you know, we cannot deprive them because they need to be in the positive. And when the book came out, actually everybody embraced it. And I even won my first management book of the year award with it because it's a positive perspective to say, you know, we can repurpose our companies, by that we can be part of the solution and improve both the economy, the world, and people's existence and have a good business by it. And that was the first book that did so. So it was very innovative, of course it was a risky thing to do, but it went well. And I believe in people wanting to do the best. You know, I think that's something that's within people, but you have to help people to see the way, to give a perspective, to give a, you know, some guidance as to how they can do it.
What attributes make a sustainable CEO?
Ilham Kadri: Absolutely. What do you think really stands out for CEOs as a sustainable CEO today? What would be those attributes and the qualities you would see in those thriving CEOs?
Marga Hoek: They don't always thrive. Depends on the timing. I mean, we've had great leaders that weren't able to thrive and we should not forget them. But, one thing that makes a great leader is that it's a person that takes responsibility, not for him or herself. Not only for the company, even not only for the sector, but starts thinking from the world as a whole. And that applies to leaders that are really at the front edge of, you know, exploring new sustainable business models, innovations and collaborations. Think from the end goal back. So they think, okay, we have hunger in this world. We have a carbon problem, we have a resource problem, we have a health problem. How can I contribute with what we can do? Not only will we do today, but what we could potentially do tomorrow. How can we contribute to that? And if we can contribute to that with whom can we partner to be able to contribute to that and then start exploring in an open mind, because all these leaders do unexpected things and rise above their own company and their own sector and start reasoning back from the end goal. That is the truly purpose driven way. So to say, everybody talks about purpose, but these leaders are truly purpose driven because they start with a purpose being convinced that if you start with a purpose and you align with what your business can do, there will be a business case and which is two. So that's one thing. I think a second thing is that they are bold leaders. It's very difficult to be a leader who has the courage to say things that at the time they are saying it, for instance, I'll achieve net zero in 2025. To give an example, at the point in time you say such a thing, you have to be honest, no clue as to how to achieve it. But you don't have yourself guided by what you can do, but you have yourself guided by what is needed. And they are convinced that it's the objective and the goal that matters and that the journey needs to be explored and found along the way. But it takes a strong character to be able to do that because you're criticized all the time. You get comments. It's insecure and you have to, you know, give people around you security, but to be a really bold leader is important. I think the third thing is that these are all people that are totally open minded. As I told you, my own grandfather was open minded, always lifelong learning, never thinking they know it, but always, you know, looking forward to new experiences and other insights and are open-minded to collaborate with whoever, wherever, because that's the way to get there.
Ilham Kadri: I love it.
Marga Hoek: Last thing that's important, I think that to be successful as a CEO, you have to balance successfully what the old worlds and what the, let's say, hardline economy expects of you. And on the other hand, what you want and need to do to achieve your mission. Nowadays we have social activists, shareholders, but only a couple of years ago, they were very tough on sustainable CEOs that at the same time their companies should outperform their peers, for instance. And that you have to bring the messaging to those shareholders that what you're doing is good for them too. So combining those two audiences, if you will, is also very important to be successful leaders.
Tech for good
Ilham Kadri: Yeah, And I think you touch upon different things from the long term activation, the next CEO will get the credits not automatically you, and you have to accept that. So one eye on the quarter or the short term, but when eye, on the long term and, and as you said, being disruptive, resilient, yet humble right? To get that creative thinking, the, your grandpa saying, let's think about it together. I just love it. While, you know, being bold, you know, make actions and have this electric sense of urgency, you know, so I love it. You also, you are also very interested in Marga in Tech for Good as well, and you have a section about that in your book where you talk a lot about the potential of many technologies including blockchain to enable a more sustainable world. Why is Tech for Good so important and what fascinates you about that technology.
Marga Hoek: Oh, thanks for that question. That's really great. Well, technology, you know, and especially nowadays, the fourth industrial technologies, advanced technologies, so we come out of the former industrial revolutions. And we kind of live in the age of consequences. I mean, it brought good things. We have heated houses and so on and so forth. But also now we know that it came with a huge price to our world. And now we are just, you know, tiptoeing of the threshold of the fourth industrial revolution. But we know a lot more. And with knowledge comes responsibility, I think. So that means that now we know what technology can bring, and we have the opportunity and the responsibility to make a decision. So how will we use technology moving forward? And that decision comes at a time that technology, not so much for technological advancements, but more by the parties applying it, has a very low rate of trust. And I think we need to rebuild that trust because there's no way we can solve these global challenges. And we have agreed with 193 countries around the world to do so by 2030. So it's something we sign up for. So to say, the only way we can do that is by leveraging the power of technology to the max. We need those advanced technologies to achieve what we set out for. And in that sense, technology can make up for lost time. Because we can do things quicker at larger scale and at places we couldn't reach. Drones can come to places we can't come or otherwise we would need years of infrastructure, scientific measurement of co2 we can now do from space. Blockchain, we can track and trace things we couldn't before. Robots can do work in dangerous places where we don't wanna expose people to and so on and so forth. Even to give you an example that touches my heart, 3D printing can restore our endangered coral reefs that take, you know, many years for one centimeter to grow. And we have the capabilities to restore that. So we have a rich pallet of technologies if we decide to use them for good that, you know, accelerates our progress on sustainability and creates huge business opportunities. And also I think technology lets us dream a bit, you know, lets us literally imagine. And I'm actually currently writing a book on Tech for Good. It will be my next book. I'm at the last chapter, so we'll be launched in 2023. And you know, writing a book is a three year exercise, so get yourself prepared, Ilham. But when you're almost through, you get to the of things because then you, you own the topic, you know so much more. You, you know, less at the same time because you ask more questions. But, and I thought this is going to be the Book of Hope. A book of hope that everybody needs so desperately in this threatened and difficult time. The Book of Hope that I tell people, you know, by embracing technology, by applying it where we can. And the book explains exactly for a technology groups how you can do that and what's the market opportunity. And it gives 75 business cases. And so Solvay of course is one of them on how to do that. Then you see that what you thought wasn't possible is actually possible. So it grows possibilities to achieve what we set out for. And it gives hope and it has beauty in what we can do. Like I gave you the example of the coral, and there's so many more things we can help autistic people by augmented reality to improve and to compensate for things they don't have. We can 3D print food for elderly people in the shape and form they were used to, and they don't have to eat the terrible things they were given nowadays. We can track and trace organic cotton by blockchain, we can recycle batteries and solve, you know, the waste fill of batteries that we're looking, you know, we're just hitting a brick wall with the huge pile of batteries, of course, and so on and so forth. So I think it's a great opportunity we should all embrace to apply technology in a good way.
Great examples of businesses doing good
Ilham Kadri: Yeah, it's, it's impressive. And, and hearing you and I have always this feeling when I meet you, this positivism, right? That's that sense of hope, sense of urgency, but sense of hope because you are believer in technology and technology with the big T both in the science parts but also you talk about AR, tracing, as you said, the organic cotton. And you say this, it took you three years, right? To do the research to write a book. Former one. Now you are doing another one. Share with us some great examples, your top two probably in the book, where businesses are doing good and growing and more profitable, and what great examples would you include? Maybe you've, you know, it's, now eight years since then. What's a great example you came through and you say, oh, I would have included that in my, in my book.
Marga Hoek: Marga Hoek: Well, the things I would've included, if they were, would've been, there are typically the check for good cases where technology, innovations are combined with sustainability. That's the new Star region. But, fortunately I can all include them in the new book. So in that sense, that's addressed. If I think about the cases that are really inspiring to me, they are all cases and that's important, that have a positive impact and that move beyond zero. I always say zero is not the end goal, but it's the start point from which onwards you can really focus on creating value, positive value. And there are many companies that do that. So for instance, what is interesting is Elite Towers is a French company that is building energy positive buildings. That is something extremely important. These buildings make more energy and that, by the way, 100% circular in terms of materials are creating more energy than they need for their inhabitants. So that means that those people have energy leftovers for their current spikes and so forth. And for buildings surrounding that, we're not able yet to renovate towards that rate of sustainability. That's a nice example. I think currently, you know, with the Ukraine, Russia situation and all the energy pricing consequences of it, you see that if we do things like that, we make ourselves also independent of global threats because the people living in those apartments and living in those houses just simply don't have an energy bill. They have no cost whatsoever. And I can tell you the business case of making buildings like this is absolutely there. So that's a nice example. I think another nice example is the company interface listed in the US. It's a carpet tile company that you could consider a very boring product, but they were very early to set their mission zero. And the thing is, we are setting a bold objective. You reach it earlier on rather than later. So they reached their mission zero in 2019 and moving onwards they said, well, this is great. We are no longer part of the problem. Now let's see in what areas and to what extent we can really be part of the solution. And so they did several very inspiring projects. One of them is called Networks because imagine if you're a carpet tile company and you say, I'm a hundred percent circular. Where is your growth coming from as we need to decouple growth and impact? And then later on, couple in a positive way, you need secondary materials. So they went on a mission to search for that, collaborated, and I'm making a very long short story, very short now with the Zoological Center in London and found that fishermen, and they started in the Philippine and then expanded into other countries, actually when their fisher nets are discarded because they're broken they were dumped in the sea doing a lot of damage to fish and other life underwater, but also serving them no economic purpose because they were just thrown away and Interface bought all of them millions and millions and millions, and started to use those nets as resource for their carpets. And from that onwards, moved to next steps with the community enabling financial inclusion to those freshmen and then educating them into doing other things besides fishing as well. And another thing they did, which is very exemplary for this positive impact thought is climate take back. They said, okay, we're now at zero. We do no harm anymore in terms of co2. But you know, even if everybody stops emitting co2, we are still left with billions of tons of co2 still to be remitted from the air, equal to our plastic soup. You know, even if we start polluting and start throwing away plastic still, we have a plastic soup double the size of France, of Germany left with that needs to be solved. And so they said, and this is a movement that's now starting in the market. Let's see if we can use that CO2 as a resource via chemical processes. Biochemical processes and they achieved that and now made it into granulars and used it as a resource for the carpets. And now you see more companies picking that up. And the whole market on carbon is fastly growing.
Lessons learned as CEO
Ilham Kadri: Wow. No, I think you, you touch upon many and a lot the positive impacts beyond the zero and what you talked about in this fish nets. You know, recycling is about circularity in a way. If you reuse the waste it’s not a waste anymore. So now, Marga, I would like to get to some curiosity questions about yourself. What kind of leader were you? I mean, you are a three time CEO and I would be very interesting that you share a bit of who you are and how did you, yourself work to just become, you know, a better leader, a leader implementing the SDGs in your companies?
Marga Hoek: Well, my first, CEO role was a mid-size construction company. I'm still very happy that I led a company with a couple of hundred employees because it shaped me as a leader. In that case, you know your people and you know your people's families, and they're all in an area where you know all the stakeholders as well. And I think that was very good to grow as a leader because it's very direct, you know, you see and meet everyone and you know what the impact of your actions is. So I became very aware that there were social organizations or people desperately needing work, that there were areas in the, where we operated as a construction company that were important to protect. And I'm thankful for all the people I worked with then that they helped shape me. You know, safety was very important to protect my people that were on construction sites, for instance. Then later on I became a CEO of one of the largest parts of listed company and we, you know, we had a lot of construction sites and it's unbelievable what the impact of construction is on world's challenges. I mean, we represent 30% of all total waste and 38% in total emissions, the whole sector together. And being aware of that and having a company with much larger scale, I thought, I want to be part of the solution because it cannot be responsible for something, you know, that has such a negative impact. And I was supported by my colleagues on board there to shift the business. So how was I as a leader there? I was much more active in driving the business into future models. So for instance, I shifted our, let's say, conservative houses into energy, positive, sustainable houses. And we, and back then I thought it would just common sense. And nowadays we call it sustainable leadership, but we put it in the p and l of all the regional directors saying this year you have to do 10%. Next year, 30%, then just normal logics. But that worked. We supported them, we gave, we also included it into their remuneration and bonus system. So that depended on how much you shifted your business towards the future business, as we call it. But also we said, I was somebody who was very entrepreneurial in the sense of setting up new things they hadn't done before. So the construction sites, I saw other companies taking away what back then we called waste, and I just mentioned the whole sector represents 30% of total waste. and I had to pay for it, and I think this is strange. They go away with my stuff. It's worth something because it's resources and now I have to pay them. Let's change that. So I really set up a new business for good, and that was a circular company that was responsible for the flow of materials. So they provided the materials, took them back and recycled them.
The importance of mentoring
Ilham Kadri: I love it. And Marga, frankly, you were really ahead of the curve on this remuneration, because when I joined Solvay, I mean, we didn't have that contribution of our Solvay one planet, the sustainability roadmap now since 2019. And we increased contribution of our sustainability roadmap into the short term incentive is now 15% and 20% greenhouse gas emission on the long term incentive, because I'm like you, I think you said, reward people on what you asked them to do. I say hit the pocket. And, and we pushed it now across the board, because it's not just at the top. So you were really, really leading the way. I cannot imagine it was 2014 so fabulous. I cannot let you walk away without, without mentoring. And, this is how I met you. Specifically since you are, leading and heading up the CMI in the Netherlands and Belgium, which is great mentoring partner for C-Suite leaders to help them accelerate in performance and impacts. I know this is close to your heart, like mine. How do you see mentorship play in a role in leadership as such, and playing a role in sustainable leadership?
Marga Hoek: Well, in many ways, and indeed it's close to my heart because mentoring is about caring. It's caring for people. It's about sharing, sharing your experiences, your knowledge, your thinking. And it's very important, you know, nowadays, CEOs, their roles, who could have imagined 10 years ago how vast they would be to be a CEO. You were in the midst of geopolitics. You are disrupted by all kinds of technologies. You were hit by a pandemic, a recession, inflation. There's so many things on your plate and your shoulders. And that also applies to people further down in the organizations because if that's the total responsibility that, you know, that hits everybody in the management roles. So I think they need support and they deserve support. I think we underestimate specifically for CEOs how lonely they are in their responsibilities and how difficult it is to be vulnerable. And we all need to be vulnerable, Ilham and to share our worries with someone. And the mentoring is for CEOs and to be able to do that CMI has gathered very experienced chairman and CEOs like yourself since you joined as a mentor. I'm very happy with that to give back to younger people, to younger talented people because, you know, the chairman and the CEOs that our mentor, they were in their shoes literally a while ago and in many cases, not so long ago. So they can relate with what they're going through, but have moved beyond and are a little bit, you know, out of the direct equation. So for those chairman CEOs to be able to give back what they've learned, and to think and support younger people is a great thing to do. And for the people that are mentored, they have the support and it often means that they can make better decisions because we all have so many dilemmas that they feel stronger and more secure and that they are more vocal about their opinions and they can share, you know, with a confidential sounding board, their thoughts and their feelings also. So I think that is something in social terms, very important thing to do, and very rewarding thing to do. I specifically aim for diversity and inclusion in the mentoring as we've talked about. So I try to, mentor many females from very different nationalities who face a lot of challenges who have to, you know, step up very quickly and sometimes fast forward in their positions because we need women at the top and we need diversity at the top, but they need support and we give that. And in terms of sustainability in leadership, it's easier said than done. Yeah, it's very difficult and you have all the current stakeholders around you, and to have a mentor that helps you, you know, with your mission and how to achieve it, and all the dangers and risks that are on the road to address them more effectively, I think the mentoring helps a lot. So, I just love the concept in doing it.
Motherhood and entrepreneurship
Ilham Kadri: And thank you, Marga, and you said a few things about daring being vulnerable, share challenges with someone. You have faith in, there is no conflict of interest, who can do good for you and do not stay lonely because as you said, our jobs, the leadership jobs have changed a lot. And you talked about the geopolitics and all of this. My job changed since the last three years drastically, so I love that. I know you, you are a mother of three children, around the age of mine as well. And, you told me some are entrepreneurs. What kind of mom are you and how, what do you do in mentoring your children? The heart side of Marga.
Marga Hoek: Well, I'm the mother that's always doubting herself. Is she just good enough to her children?
Ilham Kadri: Like all of us. Yeah. Like all of us.
Marga Hoek: Any mother, I think I'm never happy with myself as a mother. You know, I'm always happier with myself in business than as a mother because you doubt yourself much more there, to be honest. But I was actually talking, uh, with my kids. We do try to spend, all the days that we can have dinner together and, you know, have the fireplace on and have a good meal and have a good chat with each other. And then, I get back what I apparently told them when they were younger. My youngest is 15 and my oldest is 23. They're all entrepreneurs. So that says something about my upbringing. But they said that the good things I did was that I really taught them that you know what you wanna achieve, you can dream big and achieve bigger. Know what you want and go for it. And that, you know, the path can be any, you don't have to follow predictable paths to get where you wanna be. And then if you want to do extraordinary things, probably there's an extraordinary path to follow. So, for instance, I know you have a son that is a violinist. So my youngest son, he's a DJ producer in EDM Music. So Martin Erickson and the likes. He had to go to a very special high school because he wanted to do in a much short period of time because you wanted to do music and it, otherwise it just took too long for him and took him away from his creativity. He went to a special high school, he's now the youngest student at the Herman Brot Academy to all the music inside as well known ever. And he's very much looking always inside himself to who he wants to be. So I paid a lot of attention that my kids had, the inner strength based on a true purpose, who they wanna be in life and from that, where they wanna go. My oldest son is also entrepreneur in, in coaching entrepreneurs, young entrepreneurs around the world, and also he is very purpose driven, and I think I'm very happy with, that's something I'm very proud of and happy with because, you know, with everything changing in this world, in such a rapid pace with challenges and threats coming from every angle at any time, your best compass is your inner self and your purpose and your own authenticity. So if they have that, I'm very happy and proud about that.
Ilham Kadri: Well, thank you. You are a wonderful soul, wonderful mom. And, when you talk about this purpose drive and at the end of the day, you want them to dream big, go for it and be happy at the end of the day. Well, thank you so much Marga, for this fascinating conversation. You were one and you've been one of the pioneers showing us that we can implement the SDGs and grow our businesses at the same time. You inspired us then and you inspire us now and you bring to all of our discussions, personal one, that human connection. You are generous with your coaching, with your sharing perspective, with your mentoring, with your humility, and that's positivism. I just admire and are loving you. So thank you so much for joining me today.
Marga Hoek: It's a great pleasure Ilham, and the appreciation is mutual. Absolutely.
Ilham Kadri: Thank you.