In Conversation: Sheila Ashmore’s Green Journey to Sustainability Manager at Staytite

Heart of the City | 3 April 2024 | News
In Conversation: Sheila Ashmore’s Green Journey to Sustainability Manager at Staytite

In March 2023, leading fastener suppliers Staytite came on board our Foundations for Responsible Business programme. Staytite was one of five businesses who were funded by Siemens, as part of a new initiative to support small businesses in their supply chain to become more sustainable. Over the course of the year, the value of integrating sustainability into the core of Staytite’s business model became increasingly evident, and created a new sustainability manager role within the company. This position was assigned to Sheila Ashmore, a senior account manager at Staytite.

We caught up with Sheila to hear how she’s adapting to her new responsibilities, experiences in enhancing her ‘green skills,’ and the key insights she has gained throughout the past year.

Why did Staytite decide they needed a Sustainability Manager?

When we started with Heart of the City, a colleague, Lisa Wisby our Health and Safety Manager along with myself, anticipated only dedicating a couple of hours per week to the programme.  However, it became clear that both larger and potential clients were all asking questions regarding our sustainability journey, and it was at this moment we realised that we would have to get more involved.

We had already looked for a sustainability manager, and had one or two applicants but nobody was suitable. Then our Sales Director David Cartledge said ‘why doesn’t Sheila do it? She’s so passionate about the subject’. So after I was approached, I reached out to various colleagues and Olivia Beecham, Programme Manager for the Foundations for Responsible Business, and my account manager on the course to see what she thought – everyone said ‘it’ll be a learning curve, but you’ll be great, don’t worry about it’. I also spoke to one of Heart of the City’s Ambassadors, Janice Phayre who was really supportive, and she said, ‘go for it – why not challenge yourself?’ And so that’s what I did!

Without having done Heart of the City’s course I certainly wouldn’t have said yes, but the course really helped with our understanding of what a responsible business is – and that’s why we’ve signed up again. Plus, we found the course so valuable with having a supportive team, and access to all the resources made it so much easier to embrace this new challenge.

What did you find most useful from the Foundations for Responsible Business programme?

I really liked getting the baseline assessment done as part of the responsible business health check. We did this initially to get a sense of where we were. We knew in the first year we would score low, but this baseline assessment helped us to identify areas for improvement.

the course really helped with our understanding of what a responsible business is - and that's why we've signed up again!

Sheila Ashmore, Sustainability Manager at Staytite.

By tracking our progress over the past year and redoing the assessment again, we then looked to see where we could be at the end of the year, which we did, and we were pleasantly surprised how well we’d improved! So that was really motivating and a time for celebration.

I loved that we had one-to-ones with our account manager which provided personalised support not only to Staytite, but the rest of the SME’s. The other learning opportunities available to all SME’s such as the Lunch and Learn sessions, and engaging with Ambassadors not only provided me with insight into best practices, but gave me the inspiration to keep going. I also loved being part of the Siemens cohort, as it enabled us to bounce ideas off each other and learn from each other’s experiences.

What did you find hardest part of the programme to be?

The trickiest part is still the terminology. I remember at the beginning thinking, ‘I don’t understand this’, but then we had a meeting with Olivia and she said ‘don’t worry, just download our jargon buster – and I now use the jargon buster all the time as a reference. It’s great at demystifying words and phrases, and its a great place to start.

What tips would you share to people working in sustainability?

  • Be passionate and engage your colleagues – you cannot do this job by yourself. Sustainability is a collective effort and you’ll definitely need the support and enthusiasm of your colleagues to drive any changes through.
  • Look at your smaller goals and what you can achieve internally first. That’s what we did, we looked at what could be done internally, and celebrated our quick wins which motivated the team before tackling our more ambitious goals. If you get some short wins then the whole team I find is much more engaged moving forward.
  • Obtain a budget! Which is the probably one of the most challenging parts, but essential for implementing any sustainable efforts.

What would you say to others thinking of getting into sustainability?

  1. Go for it! There are so many opportunities so don’t hesitate to pursue your passion and seize every opportunity to gain experience and contribute to a positive change.
  2. Engage in networking events such as the Heart of the City’s ‘Deep Dives’ or any face-to-face events, as these events are so valuable and are an excellent opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and professionals. Plus, you will feel more energised and motivated to continue your journey by sharing and learning from each other.
  3. Sustainability is a global issue which is ever evolving, so definitely think about a career in this field, embrace the challenge, stay curious, and know that you may have made a positive impact.

Find out more about our Foundation for Responsible Business programme here.

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