Meet the Virgin family: Peju

Peju Adeosun the Sustanability Manager for Virgin Group, smiling
Peju Adeosun
Asher Harris
by Asher Harris
30 October 2020

Virgin believes that sustainability means changing business for good and the planet for the better. We met with Peju Adeosun, who works as the Virgin Group’s Sustainability Manager, to find out more about her role and how she’s making a difference.

What do you do at Virgin?

As Sustainability Manager for the Virgin Group, I’m involved in the strategic embedding of environmental, social, and governance issues management across Virgin businesses. 

This can cover anything from our greenhouse gas footprint and sustainable aviation fuel to modern slavery, human rights, or sustainable finance. My focus is mostly on environmental and governance issues.

What drew you to Virgin?

It was quite serendipitous. While I was completing my Masters in Sustainable Energy Futures, I - unknowingly - interviewed my future first manager at Virgin while researching for my thesis. I was focusing on enabling growth in ways of taking greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere (i.e. supporting global net zero). At the time, Virgin was one of the only companies visibly focused in this area. 

Joining the Virgin team felt like the perfect opportunity after completing my studies.

How long have you been at Virgin?

It’s been about six years now. Excitingly, the ‘niche’ area I first worked in is not so niche anymore!

That’s a long time. What made you stay with Virgin?

Anyone that knows me, knows if I see something that doesn’t feel quite right, or could better engage with environmental and social good, I can’t ignore it, even if I tried. I have to do something about it - search “eco-anxiety” then multiply it by 100!

At Virgin, I’ve been lucky that even if the timing isn’t right to tackle a particular issue, there’s always something across the Group that I can throw my energy, skills, and personal sense of purpose into. Often that involves supporting non-sustainability specialist colleagues across Virgin to drive change in their company or area.

Directly supporting courageous purpose-driven colleagues and leaders is incredibly satisfying.

What are the biggest challenges of your job?

I tend to take my work quite personally. The bigger, systemic picture is always on my mind. In some jobs (or maybe with a different mindset!), you can switch off when you leave the office because as important as it is to the company, it’s not that important to society.

But when 90% of your email headings are related to climate change or social justice, it’s really hard to draw the line, log off and say, “I’m going home.” You feel guilty for not finishing everything on your to-do list. You think if you just tried a bit harder, gave it a bit more time then you could engage one more stakeholder and unlock a solution. But that’s not conducive to a healthy work-life balance.

Another challenge is for businesses to manage a range of priorities. For initiatives to have a lasting impact they have to make sense in a business context, which can be tough.

What’s your favourite thing about working at Virgin?

The people for sure. I’ve met some of the kindest souls working at Virgin. There is a roll up your sleeves, “Screw it, Let's do it!” mentality. People are willing to get stuck in, try new things, and come up with creative solutions. 

I don’t have much to compare Virgin to as this has been the only place where I’ve had a ‘proper’ job, but I know it’s not the case in every company.

If you were Prime Minister for a day, what rules would you put in place?

I’d approve free school lunches (big up Marcus Rashford). I’d also set up a Universal Basic Income. I’d put more of an emphasis on societal responsibility for the environment. There is too much passing the buck to ‘future generations’, which reduces the urgency to act on problems now. Everyone was or is someone’s future generation. Prevention is better than the cure, let’s just get on with things. No more excuses!

 What do you want to do in the future? How do you think Virgin can help you do that? 

I’m Nigerian-British; I grew up in Lagos and moved to the UK when I was 10. I have many fond memories of Virgin Atlantic flights back home to Lagos during school holidays. My family is currently split across UK and Nigeria (#EndSARS). 

In the future, I’d love to move back to Lagos and apply my skills to similar issues and sustainable development. 

The exposure I’ve had to the different sectors, markets, and people (particularly senior stakeholders) while working at Virgin has been hugely valuable and is opening up a much wider range of opportunities for me to be productive.  

Interested in joining the Virgin family? Check out our careers page.