A Week in My Life: James Napier, Founder, CBN Expert

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James Napier is the creator and founder of CBN Expert, an online community providing insights on carbon and sustainability that launched during lockdown.

"We’ve been working on CBN Expert for about 12 months now and it’s been driven by a passion for climate change and the idea of creating a community that enables SMEs to really attack and achieve long term emission reductions in their business," he said.

Here he runs us through a week in his working life.

Monday

I start every day with a run – I’m lucky to live near lovely countryside but even when travelling (before Covid) I make the effort to get out into nature. I find it a great start to the day, it helps to focus the mind.

I then spend the morning planning the week, managing new sales calls and following up good leads from the previous week. We’re reaching out to a wide number of professions and industries, as being low or zero carbon is very quickly becoming a requirement to do business rather than a choice.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) runs the Race to Zero initiative, which encourages and enables organisations, companies and individuals to measure, reduce and offset their emissions directly with UN-certified climate credits. This is part of The UN’s target to be climate neutral by 2020, spearheaded by former Secretary general Ban Ki-moon. SMEs will need to demonstrate their commitment to this, so this means we’re liaising directly with organisations across a range of sectors, building up partner relationships to facilitate growth. Monday is spent on back to back meetings and calls with partners and potential clients.

Tuesday

I have two networking events today (on Zoom of course), one with a group of law firms – the legal sector is very proactive in its approach to carbon neutrality, so we’re working hard to support low carbon firms – and the second with a more general group, in which we are providing sustainability advice to a wide range of industries.

The afternoon is spent liaising with some of our expert partners: the main aim of the site is to demystify carbon neutrality and so we’re delighted to be working with some fantastic individuals and organisations to provide genuine insights and top tips. We’re planning a series of new webinars so need to discuss strategy and content. The weather is fantastic – we’ve been really lucky with it – so we have a BBQ for dinner.

Wednesday

I spend the first part of the morning working with my wife Joanne to provide content for the site. She has a background in marketing so is able to pull together good copy that we can share to help advise others and supplement the third party expert partners’ contributions.

I then have a call with the UN; we’re working with them to become a UN-approved low carbon network. We’re really excited about the possibilities ahead, our community is supported by CBN Expert’s proprietary CBN Dashboard, an innovative, easy to use, online tool which allows SMEs to easily and simply calculate their carbon footprint, break it down and take action to achieve long term reductions and inform stakeholders in their journey to a low carbon future. Other such tools on the market are aimed at larger organisations so this should really help targets be achieved.

Supper is leftovers from yesterday’s BBQ and another family game of Uno!

Thursday

One of our partners is creating a Proof of Concept for a city-wide climate partnership, which is going to be powered by our platform, so I have a lengthy update meeting on that first thing. It will provide a fantastic template for other cities and be groundbreaking for the northwest. I then have an update meeting with Zero Carbon Places - this is a public sector network, we’re creating an exemplar in East Cambridgeshire with them. It’s all about working closely with the local authorities to help support local businesses.

It means a lot of meetings and I’m familiar with that - I’ve contributed to the UK government policy on clean energy and am used to working with local government. We all need to work together to ensure that we help save the planet but also to ensure that SMEs – who make up such a large part of the economy – don’t get left behind by struggling to track and declare their carbon footprint. This is an ethical and economical challenge for us all.

I spend the rest of the day overseeing the homeschooling. This is a whole new challenge and I really feel for the kids being away from their friends and missing out on all the vital touchpoints a school provides. I have to keep an eye on my emails but luckily am able to focus on the kids, which is needed. Especially with fractions! It means working into the evening to keep on top of things but I think I’m one of many doing that at the moment – these are very strange times.

Friday

This Friday morning is all about admin. I update our social media platforms, edit my LinkedIn profile to make sure everything is up to date and have a chat with the accountant. Everything is going to plan with the launch and while I miss face to face meetings, it’s fantastic to see everyone embrace technology such as Zoom, Google Hangouts and WebEx. I really hope that, as lockdown eases, we don’t slip back into our old ways. There’s no need to travel long distances for hour long meetings if things can be achieved in a quick video call. Time, energy and costs are being saved during lockdown and that’s a good thing for all organisations, not just SMEs.

The evening is spent with Netflix, some nice wine and a Deliveroo. My downtime always seems to revolve around food these days!