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Meet Steve Malkin – CEO of Planet Mark

This month we spoke to Steve Malkin, founder and CEO of Planet Mark, the organisation dedicated to supporting businesses around the world to radically reduce carbon emissions, create operational efficiencies, enhance profits, and work towards the global transition to net zero.

Steve is dedicated to leading every business to be the energy for great change in the world, and he has inspired many to make every action they take a force for good, including through Planet Mark’s esteemed annual awards recognising outstanding achievements in the sustainability space.

Over to you Steve…

BeaconHouse Events has been working with Planet Mark for over five years – how did it all start?

Very early on in the Planet Mark days, I was invited to be part of a design industry event in London. Sir Tim Smit, the co-founder of the Eden Project was speaking and one of the key topics of the day was sustainability. It transpired that Sarah and the team at BeaconHouse were the organisers of the event. I was really impressed with how this event had been put together and after experiencing the quality of what they deliver first hand I reached out to Sarah to see if we could get a piece of that too. 

That initial idea was the first Planet Mark awards which have gone on to become a highly anticipated annual event. We didn’t want it to be a formal sit-down dinner and speech, we wanted the experience to be much more theatrical, participatory, and with a faster pace. The venue was a theatre near The Angel in Islington, London and it was this incredible performance space with huge screens, just perfect for what we were looking for. We hit the right style from the get-go and we haven’t really deviated from that over the years since then. BeaconHouse Events brought our vision to life and we were on the same page from the start. We wanted something that celebrated the incredible work that individuals and businesses were doing in the sustainability arena, and it was key that it was action-orientated rather than the ‘business as usual’ approach you see at a lot of conferences. Cost can sometimes be a barrier for smaller businesses attending events like this, especially if you have to pay to take a table, and we wanted to create something that allowed everyone to celebrate their achievements, regardless of the size of their organisation. The brief was to create an impactful event with interesting speakers who engaged with the audience, rather than just becoming background noise, and have wrap-around experiences to carry that energy through to post-event too and BeaconHouse did that from the start – the only thing that has changed is that it has got phenomenally bigger since that first event in 2016. 

The Planet Mark Awards celebrate sustainable practices – how has the landscape changed in the UK since you first designed the event?

When we first launched the Planet Mark Awards ESG and net zero  were in their infancy. The awareness of our planet changing around us, the loss of biodiversity in nature, and the impact that this is having on our societies are so much higher than it was, and we have had to adapt and scale to reflect that. We believe that most people and organisations are responsible citizens at heart and as the market has grown, so has Planet Mark. As a result, our Awards have become more and more meaningful, and to win a Planet Mark award really means something to businesses these days, and the team at BeaconHouse understands that the event is a reflection of that.

Whilst we have Nikki Faigen our events manager, we always want to work with partners who are excellent in their specialist areas and BeaconHouse totally compliment our in-house team, so that together we can put on an event that is spectacularly good.

Is the process collaborative?

Absolutely. I put that down to both teams being open to collaboration and working to a strong brief with great enthusiasm. Events are so important to us that we have an events manager in-house, Nikki Faigen, but we have always wanted to keep our awards with the team at BeaconHouse because it is such a big undertaking and they do it so very well. I put a lot of that down to the leadership and clarity of vision that Sarah has, and Event Manager Katie has been with us from the start, so she understands our organisation and community inside out. The Planet Mark network now includes over 800 businesses and tens of thousands of people and BeaconHouse has a really strong understanding of that which translates into a symbiotic and collaborative relationship.

Our certification is based on data, and so detail is incredibly important to us across the whole organisation, all the way through to events. Katie works with our internal events team to focus on those small details that add so much to our awards and the logistics of the day are always seamless. Once we have the big picture and the vision for the event, then we can get into the details and I am always impressed that the team can do both so well. They can bring us to incredible venues, while also looking after everything from the staging, award entries, sponsors, and engagement with other key stakeholders. That is then fed into the relevant parts of the organisation so we can make sure that everything is aligned with our messaging and communication in the lead-up to the event and post-awards. 

What skills have particularly impressed you from BeaconHouse? Why do you enjoy working together?

Katie and the team are great at communicating with our team in a really straightforward and personable way, which completely aligns with how we operate. In the lead-up to an event the pressure can start to ramp up a little bit, but they are always really calm and thoughtful about helping us to make decisions that make the event successful.

I like working with people that I trust implicitly. In life, nothing ever goes completely as planned and it is all down to how you plan for and adapt to those bumps along the way. Sarah, Katie, and the team are meticulous planners – they look around corners to see things that could turn into issues, they jump on problems and I know that they will be solved. Their communication is second to none, and they also know how to have good fun in doing it which makes for a very positive working relationship.

Sustainability can sometimes go under the radar – how important is having an events portfolio as part of your business strategy?

Events are an incredibly important part of our business. When we created our certification, we recognised that there is value in three particular types of activity when it comes to sustainability. The first is measuring the impact of what you are doing, the second is to engage people in the process and the third is to communicate what you are doing. We take every opportunity to show that sustainability is interesting, exciting, and relevant to all of us – and bringing people together is a fantastic way of doing that. BeaconHouse Events can put on the most impeccable, exciting events that people feel proud to be part of. The people who win a Planet Mark Award are going above and beyond and delivering something extraordinary, so we want to give them the best experience possible to celebrate that success and inspire others with what is possible – the awards take that to another level.

Bringing people together is fundamental to what you do and the awards are a great way of communicating with external stakeholders – do your internal team take a lot away from them too?

Absolutely yes. The high standard of the awards makes people very proud of where they work and has a definite impact on morale. It is also one of the rare opportunities during the year when the whole team can come together, but it is also a chance for us to meet so many of the organisations that we work with in one place. The energy of the awards is truly uplifting. Everybody in the team looks forward to the awards, they serve as a reminder of the role that every person in the team plays in helping our members to unleash their potential and so we all look at them with a great deal of pride.

You are having big conversations at the Planet Mark Awards – can the structure of the event be a catalyst for innovation and action? 

We spoke to the leader of a member organisation just today who told us that they will never miss a Planet Mark Awards event because of the opportunity to be in a room with so many people doing incredible work. You can’t help but learn from the other people in the room and the energy and inspiration are infectious too. The event is set up for people to meet new people and have those important conversations, get fired up, and wake up the next day newly invigorated to do good work. The off-the-cuff conversations that people have at our awards are where the magic is. When you bring people together in a room, if there is a challenge or an issue to be resolved people are inherently ingenious, and relentless, in working together to solve some of the biggest problems that we are facing as a society and BeaconHouse is fantastic at curating an environment that gives space for those conversations to happen.

Thanks, Steve!

Find out more about how we bring Planet Mark Awards to life and to speak to the team about your event ideas email or call 0191 691 3456.