Building for the Future

By Mel Sim

Not only is Gamuda changing the landscape of our nation with its award-winning development, but also with a commitment for a better tomorrow by creating value for the triple bottom line – profit, people and planet. GRADUAN speaks to its Group Sustainability Manager Venu Mahendra to find out what that entails for graduates wanting to seek sustainability as a career path.

If there is a positive to come from the pandemic, it is how more Malaysians have now taken refuge in parks, appreciating nature and all its wonders. It should come as no surprise then how many of us are gradually becoming more environmentally aware and perceptive in its issues, particularly sustainability.

Venu Mahendra, Gamuda’s Group Sustainability Manager, interestingly points out that the origin of the “sustainability” concept isn’t something new or pandemic-driven. “The concept dates back to less than 30 years ago in the famous Brundtland Report that states the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

He does, however, agree that the awareness and acceptance of its significance have been more prominent over the years. “Newer generations are more concerned about their future based on the decisions that we make today. The drive has also been more prominent from recent studies and discussions on global warming, talks on Greenhouse Gases (GHG) reduction efforts, climate pledges by global leaders, financial institutions emphasizing responsible lending and investor communities monitoring investments based on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performances.”

“Various stakeholders want to know how we are managing our energy and carbon, integration with ESG, how well we are managing safety and health, plans for capacity building, and how we are managing our environment,” shares Venu.

These have influenced on how companies are approaching the idea of sustainability over the years, rethinking their corporate responsibilities while focusing efforts on a greener economy. After all, with many becoming more aware of the issues concerning sustainability, they too want to know and understand a company’s approach to ESG, especially if its practices will have any effect – whether positive or negative.

“The idea of ‘doing good while working towards betterment' has always been the value that I appreciate,” says Venu when asked why the topic of sustainability appeals to him. “Having seen companies like Gamuda striving hard in balancing the need for profitability while ensuring meaningful impacts are made for all stakeholders and the environment further elevates my pride and confidence in being part of evolution. The icing on the cake would be inspiring others with similar passion to leverage on my ESG footprint to make their own meaningful impact to societies and the environment.” Venu’s previous experience providing ESG consultancy and advisory to companies within the Asia Pacific region has helped pave the way to where he is today while being a Certified Sustainability Practitioner and Reporting Specialist by the Institute of Certified Sustainability Practitioner validates his passion and expertise.

Build Right. For Life.
So, what exactly does Gamuda have in place for its commitment to sustainability? It’s all outlined under the Gamuda Green Plan 2025, a comprehensive framework that charts tangible targets driven on ESG dimensions for the next few years with an extended view to 2030 and beyond based on the four key pillars:

  • Sustainable Planning and Design for Construction: To facilitate sustainable master planning featuring climate-responsive design, integrated transport and super-low-energy buildings with smart features.
  • Our Community and Our Business: To develop talent capabilities and cultivate good governance in ESG.
  • Environmental and Biodiversity Conservation: To drive impactful efforts in nature conservation and biodiversity stewardship in its townships and property developments.
  • Enhancing Sustainability via Digitalisation: To leverage technology and data management to enhance group-wide efforts in sustainable development.

More details on the specific goals and focus areas can be found here.

Amongst some of the things that Gamuda has pledged to do for sustainability? To work alongside indigenous communities on biodiversity conservation efforts. To nurture and plant one million trees and saplings by 2023. To continue empowering young talents and minds via Enabling Academy and Gamuda Scholarship. To develop over 300MW of RE assets in the next five years, in line with the Group’s clean energy growth plan.

It will also fully adopt Digital Industrialised Building Systems (IBSC) across all of its developments, delivering a wide range of construction products through cloud-based Building Information Modelling (BIM) design integrated with precise robotic production that would encourage the reliance on current talent with digital skills and generate less waste through its precision work process. More details on Gamuda’s sustainability efforts can be found here.

“The usual perception is that only environment-related will have a career in sustainability, but that is not the case. It caters the need for a broader spectrum of talent pools. We have the likes of environmentalists, socialists, information technologists, data scientists, financial analysts, HR, etc. Many specific roles are also being created in recent years based on the needs. For example, Chief Sustainability Officer who leads a company’s sustainability progress and implementations, Head of Climate Change look at climate strategies of a company, and ESG Data Analyst who looks at impact trends and does modelling such as climate modelling,” says Venu.

Interested in a career that will help save the future? Like every other role, passion will give you a head start.

“Once you have the belief and direction of what sustainability element you want to focus on, then you should be able to prepare for it. If you are passionate about climate change, you can explore topics or courses related to carbon management or accounting. All in all, sustainability is the mindset to make meaningful impacts for the betterment of the future, and this should be instilled in a person who wishes to venture into sustainability,” says Venu.

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