Isabella Bussi is Fedrigoni Group’s Head of Sustainability, helping to lead and guide the company’s green policies and strategies at a critical time. She joined Fedrigoni Group in April 2021, after sixteen years in the cement industry. Her job has always been to help big companies move from ‘business as usual’ to ‘sustainable business’. After degrees in Environmental Science, and Environmental Technologies and Science, at Milan University, Bussi took a Master’s in Environmental Economics and Management at Bocconi University, the first such course available in Italy.
Following her postgraduate studies she worked for cement manufacturer Italcementi (Bergamo), first as an environmental specialist, then as sustainability manager with responsibility for improvement planning in 23 countries. Similar roles followed at HeidelbergCement in Germany and Buzzi Unicem, before Bussi joined Fedrigoni. Her role encompasses sustainability throughout every aspect of the business, from production to strategy, reporting to supply chain management, while at the same time ‘creating value’ in line with the company’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As she explains in this interview, her job is about facts, figures, targets, accountability, communication and leadership.
John L. Walters: Is this a job you ever imagined doing?
Isabella Bussi: Yes, even before this kind of job was created. So probably this is something in my DNA.
You previously worked in the cement industry…
Yes, cement is a long-term industry, with longer return on investment, with a big environmental impact and strong connections to the local community – like paper. Compared to other industries, like oil and gas, they have been more under pressure in recent decades, so they have had to have a more sustainable approach.
Your role is not solely about sustainability. How do you go about improving and changing the ‘safety culture’ of the mills and factories?
We have started working on a common approach to create a safety culture within the Group: simple daily rules to avoid risks … and pride in the fantastic products we produce.
Over the past twenty years, there has been a tendency for environmental concerns to rise and fall in visibility. For example, environmental concerns receded at the time of the 2008 financial crisis.
You are right, but today the world is changing: every sector in the world has understood and experienced how costly environmental damage can be. The automotive, oil, gas, transport and steel sectors have all experienced bad environmental situations that have impacted their profit and loss.