This week I am chatting to Nancy Hyne, founder of nlhEnvironmental. Nancy is an environmental advisor working with businesses to help them develop environmental & social strategies to make a positive impact as well as improving business performance (reducing costs, retaining staff, improving reputation and customer loyalty). Environmental awareness is such an important topic and I think you'll agree with me that more individuals and businesses are taking time to educate themselves as well as make a conscious effort to be more friendly to the environment and our planet.
I have been following Nancy on Instagram for several years now and I enjoy reading her posts, as well as engaging with her on the platform. So without further ado, let's get chatting!
Tell me a little bit about your business - where are you based, what services do you offer to your clients?
I am based in Lymington but work with businesses across the UK. We often start with a Sustainability Health Check to helps businesses understand their baseline (ie where is their environmental impact today) and then help them develop goals (ie where they want their environmental impact to be in the future). Depending on the business, this can cover anything from environmental certifications and developing environmental objectives and targets to waste management, energy reduction and employee engagement.
That's a fab tool for businesses to have. Many people don't know where to start when it comes to being more environmental friendly and what impact their activities make so this check is is ideal for a business. Tell me a little more about you and your background - I’d love to know more personal details about you like where you grew up and what you wanted to be as a child; as well as what inspired you to become a girl boss?
There is not a simple answer to this one! I’m half Egyptian and half Devonian and grew up in the Middle East as my Dad worked for an oil company. I also have an Australian passport and spent 7 years living in Sydney after what was meant to be a 2 month trip backpacking around South America! (Long story but 2 months in South America turned into a round-the-world trip covering South East Asia, New Zealand and Australia, which included a job offer in Sydney.)
I had no idea what I wanted to be when I was younger, but I knew that I wanted to travel so I chose to do a Civil Engineering degree which is how I ended up getting sponsored to live in Australia. When I came back to the UK from Sydney, I moved to Twickenham as I figured my best bet for getting a job would be back in London. However, having experienced the Sydney lifestyle (they do work/life balance SO well!), I knew that London was not for me. That said, the job prospects in areas I wanted to live in (near the sea!) didn’t really suit so I chose to set up on my own. With my husband working away a lot (he works for BA as an air steward) and having introduced our adopted black lab, Pango, to the family, flexibility around work is so important to me so working for myself lets me plan around them.
You have such an interesting story! I also have a travel background and came from a mixture of nationalities, finally settling in the UK with my family. I thought about going to London for career prospects, but like you needed a better work/life balance.
How did you come up with the idea for your brand?
Although I’ve been working in sustainability for over 10 years now, it’s only recently become far more prevalent in the media because of people like David Attenborough and so the public’s awareness of environmental issues is much higher than it used to be. With that, however, comes a lot of misinformation and confusion and that’s where my services come in. I help businesses develop an effective strategy that not only helps them reduce their environmental impact but also improves performance through cost reduction, resource efficiencies, staff retention and customer loyalty. An effective strategy becomes part of a company’s brand and aligns with existing corporate goals. It’s all about the triple bottom line: purpose, people and profit.
David Attenborough has certainly raised a lot of positive attention to the topic. For businesses it's a win-win situation as they are helping the environment but also helping reduce their own costs, and have customer loyalty. You certainly keep busy - how do you keep a balance between work and personal life?
This is a huge part of why I set up on my own. I need flexibility around family and Pango and working for myself allows me to do that. I find that certain times of year are busier for me work-wise and others are much quieter. Rather than stress about the quieter times, I use them to take a bit of a break. On the flip side, sometimes this means taking my laptop away with me during busier periods to answer any urgent emails but it really works both ways. I’m also very upfront with my clients about timelines and give them as much notice as possible when it comes to times when I simply won’t be available. It’s very much a balancing act and I definitely don’t have it perfected yet!
Work/life balance is a struggle for many business owners to keep on top of - I love how you take a break in the quieter periods, I could definitely do more of that instead of panicking! What inspires you to keep growing?
A lot of my clients are large London-based businesses at the moment because many of my contacts came from my corporate life. My real passion, however, is to work with smaller, local businesses as I think this is where the real gap in the market is. SMEs don’t necessarily have the budgets to hire someone full time to manage their environmental strategy and time-wise, it’s difficult to assign additional responsibilities to existing employees and still achieve the same results. That’s where I come in. I really want to work with businesses who are passionate about looking after people and the planet and simply need a bit of a helping hand. This is where I believe my business becomes part of the local community which is really what I’m aiming for but I’m not there yet!
I love that idea - if we all chipped in and helped, there would be more positive impact on the world around us.
How do you wind down after a long day?
I live in the New Forest and getting outdoors is so important to me, especially in the winter months. My favourite ways to unwind include coastal & forest walks, books that I struggle to put down, catching up with friends & family, getting hooked on the latest boxset and chilling out with a lovely glass of wine.
My other passion in life is travel (you may have already worked this one out 😊). There is nothing I love more than spending the day meandering around a new city/town/village and I think it enhances your life in so many ways.
I love this! Dog, walks, seaside, wine... I'm totally with you on that!
Any business owner would be lying if they said every single day is stress free and smooth sailing. I want to bring more transparency and honesty into the behind the scenes of building a brand. Tell me about a challenge you conquered in your business:
There have definitely been a few challenges! One of the hardest things I find at the moment is actually explaining what I do and the value it can provide to businesses. Sustainability can be a very confusing topic and means so many different things to people. Getting people to think about a sustainability strategy as a valuable business tool rather than just a fluffy “nice to have” has been incredibly challenging but part of why I love what I do.
To wrap up, share a quote you live by and get inspired so other girl bosses out there can feel that energy and keep working at their dreams:
Hard to choose just one but I love this one from Dr. Kent M. Keith (not actually Mother Teresa as a lot of people think). My mum left it to me as a little note years ago and it always makes me think of her:
“People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centred.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.”
Amazing, I will keep that one on my board as a reminder - thank you Nancy!!
If you're inspired by Nancy's boss babe vibes, or want to find out more about helping your business become environmental friendly, you can connect with Nancy on nlh Environmental or social media handles below: