FT Rankings 2022

3Keel win Financial Times award for fourth year running

28th January 2022

We are thrilled to have been recognised for the 4th year running as one of the Leading Management Consultants for Sustainability by the Financial Times. This year we were awarded a silver ranking for Sustainability and, for the first time, also received awards in two other categories: Energy, Utilities & Environment and Consumer Goods & Retail. Thank you to our clients, associates, partners, friends, and all others who proposed 3Keel for the FT awards; we wanted to use this moment to reflect on some of our highlights of 2021, and to look ahead to our next steps.

Independence and quality

The sustainability sector is heating up rapidly. Dizzying rates of growth, consolidations and external finance are changing the dynamics of consulting firms and leaving the market frothy, in parts. We are proud to remain independent and confident in our controlled, organic growth – preserving the ethos of the organisation, and maintaining the quality of our work.

Talented, growing teams

3Keel started in 2013 with three founders, from which we have bootstrapped the business to build our current team of close to fifty 3Keelers. Our growing team has diverse interests and experiences, with everyone aligned and applying their skills to support our mission.

For 2022 and beyond, we have reorganised our consulting staff into new delivery units, each of which will work closely with the 3Keel partners. Our initial six teams will be led by Samra Mariam, Julian Cottee, Russell Ashfield, Michael Lord, Becky Hamp and Catherine McCosker. This new structure will provide continuity for client projects and build specialist expertise across the core practice areas in which we work.

In addition, we have evolved our structure to introduce a Management Team responsible for operations and coordinating the evolution of the business. This team is led by Simon Miller in his role as Managing Partner, with Alex Hetherington stepping up as Head of Enterprise; Caroline Hall as Head of People; and Jonathan Hann as Head of Operations.

The Partners remain just as involved and essential to 3Keel as ever, but have passed responsibility for the day-to-day running of the business to this team. This frees the Partners up to focus on strategy, new ideas, sector developments and mentoring our delivery team members

It’s the 4th year in a row we have won the FT award

A new management team

Simon Miller, Jonathan Hann, Caroline Hall and Alex Hetherington will make up the new management team

Mission and values

We were lucky enough to have two fantastic away-days in November, which we spent at West Lexham in Norfolk. This was time to reconnect, laugh, eat, think, stretch and swim, and take stock of 3Keel’s progress and ambitions.

Amongst other discussions, we used the time to review our mission and values, taking on board recommendations from everyone to revise our mission, and add a fourth value:

Our Mission:

Urgent action is needed to address the climate and ecological crises. We use our knowledge and skills to accelerate systems change and business transformation towards a world in which nature, people, and enterprises thrive.

Our Values:

  • Friendly: We enjoy what we do and we work in the spirit of collaboration. This comes across in our relationships with colleagues, clients and partners.
  • Practical: We are pragmatists. We recognise that our work must bridge the gap between the world we have today and the one we want to create.
  • Curious: We ask questions, we are creative, and we don’t have all the answers. We look for new roads that challenge the status quo.
  • Ambitious: Significant change is needed now. We bring a sense of purpose that matches the scale of the climate and ecological emergency.

West Lexham ‘away day’

Pictures from the wonderful West Lexham

Projects of note

Our team has delivered over 100 projects during 2021, and this recognition from the FT reflects the pride we have in the work we do, as well as our efforts to bring fresh thinking, rigour and clarity of communications. Examples of our recent work include:

  • UN PRI – we simplified and presented a clear case for investor action on deforestation in advance of COP26 in Glasgow.
  • Food & Drink Federation – we prepared a practical Net Zero Handbook for the food and drink industry, following similar work on the BRC’s Climate Action Roadmap in 2020.
  • British Fashion Council – we led a research consortium for the Institute of Positive Fashion’s flagship initiative, providing a blueprint for a circular fashion ecosystem in the UK.
  • Commodities – we convened and authored a multi-stakeholder forum to identify what ‘good’ looks like in corporate policy and action on soy, and privately delivered comprehensive plans for transitioning supply chains to major brands and retailers – all whilst coordinating industry statements in the UK and Brazil calling for greater protections and corporate responsibility.
  • Science Based Targets initiative  – we completed eight successful validations in 2021, a year that saw a huge increase in demand for SBT submissions, with clients including Co-op, innocent, apetito, and Greencore.
Recent projects

The Circular Fashion Ecosystem Report, a report for the British Fashion Council presenting a blueprint for the future of fashion

Achieving Net Zero, a report for the Food & Drink Federation providing practical decarbonisation guidance for food and drink manufacturers

Looking ahead

Looking to the year ahead, we are already seeing high demand for the work we do in bridging the gap between complex supply chains and sustainable agriculture. We also expect to see an increased emphasis on the importance of accounting for biodiversity and other ecosystem services, as businesses and governments develop strategies to deal with globally declining resources.

At 3Keel, LENs is expanding rapidly with projects now established in mainland Europe, while our commodity supply chain data tracking team is now serving 14 global brands and retailers. We have our HQ in Oxford, a core team established in London, and employees now based overseas in Spain and the US.   

In 2022, we hope to bring fresh ideas, create better solutions, and develop new networks and partnerships across sectors. We look forward to facing new and old challenges, and to continuing to help organisations navigate these increasingly uncertain waters.