Benoit Barraque
Head of Application Service for Finance, Compliance & IT4IT domains - Credit Agricole CIB
Benoit’s introduction

Passionate about travels, Benoit left France in 2011 for Asia, lived in Hong Kong then landed in Singapore 6 years ago, working for Credit Agricole CIB. With 15 years of experience in IT across different sectors and industries, he is now managing a team focusing on IT application support. In 2017, he was one of the founders, and now the leader, of their first green team in Singapore.

Why did you start a green team and how did you implement change towards more sustainability at your office?

To be honest it started more out of curiosity than it was a clear goal initially. Later, it became a necessity for me, as you cannot do everything at home, which is very far from what is done at work, to be aligned with your thoughts or convictions.

I started by building a community, to understand who showed interest around me and get ideas from my fellow colleagues.

What did you change?

The awareness of what sustainability means in the office has been raised, from employees to top management. The concept of doing things differently, with another parameter (environmental criteria) than cost, has been introduced.

We are working now more consciously to minimize our impact on the environment, make our employees feel good and sometimes even increase our own well being.

What were the difficulties? How did you overcome them?

Mainly to find people who understand you, who trust you and also how to work towards the interest of the company. Then, you need sponsorship from management and finally draw a detailed plan to executives and motivate people.

Having a team of volunteers with limited budget is a challenge (how to keep people motivated over time, the frustration of having a limited impact).

We have overcomed the challenge by recruiting new green team members, earning trust from the management and the community, and by showing real, measurable impacts from the implementation of the initiatives. Definitely, a big part is commitment and learning. Innovating and increasing our network also helped a lot to overcome difficulties.

Does this COVID - New Normal period change your approach to sustainability at the office?

Of course, it is challenging, as our roadmap was delayed for 6 months and most of the team members were not able to participate (more workload due to the pandemic - necessity to adapt to new work conditions, communication and work in a remote environment).

But it also created new opportunities (things that were not allowed before and needed to be (re)activated, think out of the box during emergency situations, facilitate quicker decision).

It will change the approach as we have physical constraints, interaction being limited, some aspects were totally cancelled. But it can open new doors or oblige you to adapt/innovate quickly.

What are examples of initiatives that you have implemented in your company?

In 2019, we organized an Environment Week (upcycling workshop - talk about climate change, fast fashion - raise awareness about electronic waste, green market). We recycled newspapers, screened a documentary about the plastic issue and led our first beach cleanup.

In 2020, 

  • we recommended several good books and movies about different sustainable topics (ocean, plastic waste, farming, climate change…), 
  • shared good tips on how to reduce electricity consumption, 
  • introduced an alternative browser with good impact, 
  • informed about food impact on the environment,
  • participated in the Earth hour
  • organized 2 Webinars about DIY plants and hygiene/care products, 
  • became aware of the problem with disposable masks,

  • We also partnered with barePack to fight single-use plastic while dining, 
  • planted about 1,000 trees in a forest in India to fight climate change,
  • avoided 2,000 sheets of paper being printed, by making a change within an internal admin process,
  • introduced 100% recycled paper in our office,
  • and we collected 200 pairs of shoes from our employees that were given to a local association.

In early 2021, I became officially Animator of “the Climate collage” and I will be conducting workshops with my colleagues to raise awareness towards the climate change issue.

What are you most proud of?
  • Having my management’s support on the proposed initiatives, looking at the real impacts thanks to our actions. 
  • Being an example/role model for other regional offices to learn from. 
  • Having people to discuss sustainability topics openly, not seeing it as a trendy topic but as an opportunity to do good, with some necessary investment sometimes.
What would be your top 3 pieces of advice to The Matcha Initiative (TMI) users?
  1. Build a community and ask your colleagues what should be done.
  2. Get inspired by what others do: connect with different companies, networks, countries to stimulate ideas.
  3. Understand your management, their constraints and their limits.
How could you help The Matcha Initiative (TMI) users?

I will be glad to share my experience or help others to move towards a better and sustainable environment if I can. Let’s keep in touch.

Benoit kindly accepts to answer your questions.

If you need additional insights, you can send him a message.