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Meet the Expert: Apoorve Khandelwal on his move from Amazon to NewForesight

Apoorve Khandelwal is NewForesight’s most recent team member. He joined our team as a Consultant after working at Amazon as a Senior Partner Manager. Prior to his work at Amazon, Apoorve led biofuel technology development at a Fortune 500 Oil and Gas Company where he gained significant experience and knowledge in the agriculture and forestry based bio-fuel sector. Apoorve has both an MBA from INSEAD, where he graduated with distinction, and a background in Engineering and biochemicals. When he isn’t working on sustainability challenges you can find Apoorve on the dance floor. In the past Apoorve has been part of national and institutional level Bollywood dance performances, where he won several awards.

Not only did Apoorve change his job from managing partners at a multi-national to a consulting at a NewForesight, he also moved  from Luxembourg to Amsterdam. Settling in the Netherlands has been just as much of an exciting journey as getting on board in all types of sustainability projects. But, what led him here? We wanted to find out and asked him 5 questions over a coffee break.

On your LinkedIn page, it says your life motto is “building a sustainable and collaborative world”. Can you tell us more about this?

Personally, I believe a sustainable system can only be built on the foundation of collaboration. That is why my interests especially align with NewForesight’s sector transformation domain. Through this approach, we help industry players to come together and collaboratively change their sector for the better.

Before you joined NewForesight, you worked at Amazon. What is it like to transition from a multinational to a sustainability consultancy?

I worked for Amazon for 6 months, I was a senior partner manager, responsible for building Amazon’s collaboration program with e-commerce software companies across the Europe, focusing on improving customer experiences. NewForesight and Amazon are both agile, which I think is crucial for success. In terms of differences I think that Amazon, being a much larger and older organization, has standardized its processes extremely well, focusing on scalability. It pleases me to see the similar focus on standardization of internal processes being given at NewForesight to gain efficiency. In a smaller company, the relationships amongst the colleagues are much stronger; at NewForesight we have a wonderful and cohesive team dynamic. I remember the first day when all of us had lunch together at our kitchen lunch table, it was great to see how everyone was talking to each other and that you can make your own (vegetarian!) lunch.

So about our field of work; What do you see as the main sustainability challenges of our time?

My concerns are not at the issue-level (symptoms) but at the root cause. I believe that one of the biggest root-causes of the sustainability issues is market failure. Currently, the ground rules that govern the markets in various sectors are unable to ensure economic, social and environmental sustainability.  That is also one of the reasons why I wanted to work at NewForesight. Here at NewForesight, we find solutions to complex issues by designing market-based approaches and catalyzing collaboration across sectors and stakeholders. We indeed are, changing the rules of the game.

The synergy between businesses and sustainability is increasingly apparent. What have you learned from working for a multi-national corporate that was dealing with their own challenges?

A market is sustainable when the multiple forces – that make up a market system – create incentives for sustainability. Creating market incentives is something I noticed Amazon exploited very well to build resource-light and efficient solutions. E.g. Amazon needed to ensure that sellers on platform maintain a high-quality service. A standard solution would have been setting up a huge seller education team, but Amazon chose to change the rules of the game and pioneered the customer review system (wherein customers rate sellers based on their experience) – a market mechanism that is now widely used in the internet industry. This not only created clear incentives for sellers to improve quality but also made the scale-up of operations easier, efficient and less resource intensive.  At NewForesight, one of key elements of strategy to battle complex sustainability challenges is enabling right incentives in the market in order to esnure sustainable behavior by sector stakeholders.

You have been living in the Netherlands for a few months, what are your first impressions?

I used to live and work in Luxembourg, and now I am living in Amsterdam. Firstly, there is no language barrier, Dutch people are equally happy to speak English. I am very happy with this. Also, The Netherlands is very casual and they (especially at NewForesight) care about others. To me, the Dutch culture is not as closed off as I thought it would be. I love Amsterdam; It’s a great blend of cultural richness and liveliness. I am also impressed by the bike culture here. In India I cycled all the time, I loved it. I need to pick it up again but I am sure I will start biking again soon.

At NewForesight, Apoorve is currently busy working on a convening a large part of the tea sector in support of the Ethical Tea Partnership and IDH. Do you have any questions or do you want to get to know Apoorve? Send him a message below or head to his bio!

 

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