The challenges we face are enormous. I have seen with my own eyes that the melting of the ice in the Arctic is going faster than expected and our natural “air conditioning” is disappearing. Plastic pollution in the oceans is increasing and plastic micro debris is likely to enter our food chain. In order to protect our planet and create a sustainable future, we need to speed up and accelerate our transition to an inclusive, fossil-free and circular economy.

A growing number of companies aim to play an important role in this transition. They see not only challenges but also opportunities and want to find ways that can possibly turn the tide. In order to support their transition to sustainable business, they often appoint a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) or a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Manager.

What is the added value of a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) for a company? And what kind of work is (s)he supposed to do in a company? When are CSO’s or CSR managers effective in their jobs? The answers to these questions are described in this book on the basis of the Seven roles that are needed to fully embed sustainability or corporate social responsibility in a company.



Climate Adaptation Coalition

Call for Climate Adaptation, now! There is no denying anymore, the climate is changing. Despite all agreements worldwide, the global temperature and sea levels are rising, and weather patterns are…


In 2010, I was appointed the first Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) of the Dutch Railways (NS). Working together with my peers and colleagues to make the Dutch railways a climate neutral, circular and inclusive company, has been the most inspiring and challenging phase in my career. In 2014 I got rewarded for achieved results, when I was elected national CSR manager of the year.

In February 2019 I left my job at NS to boost my activities in the field of empowering sustainability professionals, such as the writing of the book 7 Roles to Create Sustainable Success, which is the international sequel to my acclaimed Dutch book MVO doe je Zo (2016). For the book I also worked together with other CSOs, who have contributed their experiences and practices. Besides a practical guide for sustainability professionals, 7 Roles is – like the Dutch version – also suited as a text book for universities. 7 Roles will be released in October 6th 2020.

In addition, I cofounded with Elfrieke van Galen the Sustainability University Foundation, a global platform for sustainability professionals with on- and off-line peer-to-peer learning activities and research.

‘My tip for young professionals who want to work in the field of corporate sustainability, is that they should become experts in something such as energy or water. They should bring some technical insights in the role in order to be able to come up with real solutions or innovations.’

Brian Janous (General Manager of Energy and Sustainability at Microsoft)


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