Celebrating 30 years of Verco; An interview with Dave Worthington

As we celebrate our 30 year anniversary, Managing Director Dave Worthington reflects on the business today and its direction for the future.

What sorts of projects abroad has the company been involved in recently?

The international part has come from our ability to be a strategic advisor of choice to large multinational businesses. So the international work comes from both corporate clients but also policy work for both UK and overseas Governments. In the early days of my time at the company, the UK’s position and approach on climate change and solutions was acknowledged to be world-leading so that created a market for exporting the UK’s approach as best-practice around the world.

Over the years we’ve worked with the Indian Government helping them set up an energy efficiency trading scheme, drawing out a lot of lessons learnt from carbon trading schemes in Europe, and some of the energy efficiency policies in the UK – specifically the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) and Climate Change Agreements (CCAs).

More recently we’ve worked with the Russian government, looking at methods of carbon regulation or methods that can simultaneously help to decarbonise the economy and drive growth, without creating unintended consequences like carbon leakage.

How does Verco get involved in wider research/discussion within the sustainability landscape?

We’ve always had a strong interest in driving the agenda forwards in every way that we can. We help policy-makers by giving them robust, technical analysis and evaluation of their policies, and they like using us because our corporate work means that we’ve got a very strong real-world understanding of how energy efficiency and low carbon measures play out in practice. We understand the people, process and technology issues in a way that organisations focused on policy issues rarely do, and that’s always been a key differentiator for us.

We’ve often presented papers at conferences or put out thought leadership pieces that have been trying to challenge the industry where we feel we’re not moving fast enough.

What have been some of Verco’s recent awards?

We recently had two Business Green Leaders awards for consultancy of the year, and one from edie for consultancy of the year last year – the nice thing with these is that the judges acknowledged a combination of the innovative nature of our work, the passion and activism of our employees, and the impact of the work that we’ve done. For a company of our size, to have done some of the policy work and helped some very large multinationals reduce millions of pounds of operational costs and hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon, is something that we’re really proud of.

There seems to be a great working environment and collective ethos surrounding Verco – how far has this contributed to your success?

We’re a people-based business so the culture and approach of the team is 100% behind our success. Having a core mission and purpose that everyone buys into is probably the most important ingredient, everything flows from that. We just need to encourage the right mind-set, with a balance between guidance and autonomy, giving people the sense that if they’ve got a good idea then they’ve got the freedom to deliver on it.

Employee ownership is a strong part of all of this as well – we can simultaneously act in the interest of the shareholders and employees.

With the company about to enter its 30th year, what do you see as some of the greatest challenges/opportunities facing Verco over the next 30 years?

It’s been a very exciting 30 years of many twists and turns, mirroring what’s happened in the sustainability market – a lot of things have changed.

We’ve been through quite a few corporate transitions and come back out the other side as an independent consultancy again. We’ve relied on the amazing intelligence of the team and its ability to look for, jump and land on the next wave that’s come. That’s been really exciting but the goal of net zero emissions is a wave that is here to stay and has been the golden thread running through the company’s first 30 years. We therefore need to deliver on our vision, providing the solutions that our clients need to achieve net zero before our 60th birthday!