Say hi to Amanda @amandaborneke, a multi-awarded sustainability profile and a true powerhouse. Amanda is on a mission to drive positive impact through emerging sustainability solutions within the construction industry and beyond.
Amanda is a praised entrepreneur, an advocate for sustainable construction practices in Sweden, a feminist and a dedicated eco-champion with a passion for second-hand clothing.
It is her dedication and confidence that we are all in charge of building our own house and decide whether it is built sustainably or not (get the play on words here 😉), that makes us want to share her story with you!
Finally, so nice to meet you all! I love to be here at Nature Unite and could not be happier for my bottle. I am longing for the bottle collection made from construction waste (hint hint for a great business idea.)
WHO ARE YOU?
I am just a country girl with dreams. My hometown was always too small for my ambition. I never felt in place, always being the loud and obnoxious kid wanting desperately to get away. No one ever believed that I would become something, that became my main source of inspiration at the time. I founded my first company at the age of 13. It was a jewelry design company where I designed necklaces and hair pieces for my mom’s catwalks. Working every holiday, summer break and vacation allowed me to save up capital. I used my savings to buy an apartment, moved away to a bigger city and started high school.
Here things started to change. I was randomly placed in an environmental class and discovered the meaning of Overshoot Day. Therefore, it was impossible for me to keep importing material from China to my jewelry company. I decided to end my company and dedicate my soul to sustainability work. Later on, I double majored in Environmental Science and Management.
During my studies I founded two companies of my own, as well as being the initiative taker/founder of several events and organizations. The one I'm most proud of is Radar - a collaboration between all the student associations at Linkoping University in Sweden. By doing this, I've encouraged hundreds of students to start their own companies. I used my last year at university to take courses all over the world - studying in India, France and the Netherlands.
Graduation was just around the corner, but despite my previous experiences, no company would hire me. My ambition was always “to high”, my voice always to loud and my clothes to controversial. I decided defy all odds and the same day as my graduation – I started my own consult firm.
My partner of five years was starting to get uncomfortable. He never could be happy for my success and he left me with a choice – leave my job or leave him. Heartbroken, I decided to leave him and put all that energy in my work. I worked SO hard. Six months later I was rewarded with multiple awards for my efforts. Magazines described me as “one of the reasons why Sweden’s climate footprint decreased”. I remember whispering to myself that adversity and sorrow are temporary, while joy and success last forever.
I used my awards as a motivation to join director boards and was eventually voted in to The Swedish Construction Federation’s environmental committee. The youngest member ever entering.
Always listen to your inner voice and do what makes you proud. What you think of yourself is the only opinion that matters. Keep your head high and never feel ashamed to follow your dreams.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WORK WITH SUSTAINABILITY IN CONSTUCTION?
No woman voluntarily enters an industry like the construction industry. The few women I know are the daughter of a construction business owner or randomly ends up there, falls in love and never leave – the last one is more accurate for me.
For me, it started as a short consult job and I was only supposed to work there for six months. None of the norms or preconceived notions I had about the construction industry were correct. I had ended up in an industry where being loud, extreme and controversial was not a negative thing - on the contrary, it was preferable. It was seen as necessary traits to be successful in my leadership. I had finally found a place that felt like home.
It was also a career strategic move to stay in construction. My business strategic analysis showed that the construction industry accounts for about 10% of Sweden's GDP and employs about 350,000 people a year. The sector itself represents 20-30% of Sweden's climate impact (depending on how you count) and at the same time it our most corrupt industry and the one at least digitalized. In other words – there is a lot of work that’s need to get done. The industry also is the only sector in Sweden where female leaders statistically earn more money than the male leaders.
IN WHAT WAY ARE YOU BRINGING POSITIVE CHANGES TO YOUR COMMUNITY?
My leadership style is unique. The only environmental person that ever existed in the construction industry is the typical “inspector”, or as I prefer to call it – the wood pecker. Classic traits for the wood pecker are that they “peck”, give orders and have a patronizing way of communicating to the employees. The wood pecker inspects and evaluates everything that goes wrong, therefore never improves a work environment, they only makes it less bad. My approach is more like a Rooster. I am an alarm clock on the construction site, waking everyone up every morning with a happy smile. Classical traits for the rooster are that they listen, have a two-way dialogue and lift their colleagues up. The Rooster measures successfulness, rather than failure, and give positive feedback to the employees. The difference is not being less bad, but being better and more successful un every project. I see myself as a personal trainer, but for companies and in sustainability. Is more about being a coach, than being a controller.
This is not only my leadership style – it’s a life philosophy. I truly believe in the laws of attraction and that the energy you give to your surroundings eventually comes back. That’s why listening to your inner voice is vital. It’s your compass making sure you end up where you supposed to be.
NAME ONE SMALL BUT POWERFUL CHANGE PEOPLE CAN MAKE
Sign up to be the sustainability safety officer at your workplace. Usually business struggle finding an employee who wants to take the commitment and it is an amazing opportunity to show that you care about your workplace, your colleagues and your future carrier. It is definitely a small role, but it can still include you getting an extra education and you might go to conferences to network with other safety officers in other industries. The sustainability safety officer often report directly to the executive board, which is another great opportunity to get closer to the leaders in your company or organization.
PLEASE SHARE A KEY RESOURCE THAT YOU LOOK TO FOR GUIDANCE
If you surround yourself with 5 clowns, you become the 6th. If you surround yourself with 5 idiots, you become the 6th. If you surround yourself with 5 millionaires, you become the 6th. Be really careful with who is around you and surround yourself with people who represents your future.
MORE ABOUT AMANDA
Full name - Amanda Borneke
From - Gothenburg, Sweden
Main occupation - Saving the world
Favorite place in the world is - At Åhus beach in a place called Frisseboda.
My favorite book right now is - Why We Disagree About Climate Change
I cannot live without - Yoga and meditation (Inner peace)
My ocean spirit animal is - Blue whale
Three words that would describe me are - Analytic, ambitious and amazing
My favorite thing about our oceans is - The calmness and silence when diving is addictive
First activity in the morning is - Twerking and drinking coffee
One of my dreams in life is - Making the construction industry climate neutral
My go-to sustainable product is - My water bottle from Nature Unite
My bucket list includes - Making people passionate about things that they don’t care about but also to empower people on how they reach their full potential.