Interview: Andrea Orsag

Empowering Green Transition: Andrea Orsag’s Vision for

the Innovation & Sustainability Summit

In seeking to understand the driving forces behind her roles as an expert, entrepreneur, and sustainability enthusiast, the Swedish Chamber Insights sat down with Andrea Orsag, a distinguished sustainability consultant and founder of the sustainability strategy advisory firm MissionC. In this exclusive interview, we delve into Andrea’s commitment to the intersection of sustainability and connectivity, her position as an expert evaluator for the European Commission, and her passion for the Swedish Chamber of Commerce community.

Andrea Orsag carries many titles—such as mentor, expert, advisor, lecturer, moderator, facilitator, and founder. What unites this diverse array of roles is her steadfast commitment to sustainability, circularity, and impact. Over a remarkable 15-year career in risk management, strategy advisory, and change management, her dedication to advocating for environmental consciousness has always been with her.

From having grown up in Slovakia, studying in Sweden, living in Finland, Zambia, and Ireland among other countries, and now residing in the Netherlands, Andrea is in a way “the very poster child” of European connectivity. With a background that embodies pro-European ideals, it might not be a coincidence that Andrea today also works with the European Commission.

In her role, Andrea helps evaluate projects aligned with the EU’s Green Deal, deserving the funding to make the continent carbon neutral. The European Commission assembles its expert evaluator group with an emphasis on representation across nationalities, backgrounds, and sectors. Andrea explains how she believes that a clear vision is crucial in advancing the ambitions of the Green Deal and facilitating a constructive green transition:

“What is the future we want? Are we able to imagine it? We need to be able to see it to get there. This is also the take I have during evaluations – where do I feel that certain proposals have a clear vision that is really something new, that will help us move towards our goals?”

Key topics currently at the forefront of the European Commission include sustainable financing, preventing greenwashing, transitions of business models to regenerative in all sectors, and sustainability reporting.

Andrea’s commitment to sustainability extends to her involvement with the Swedish Chamber of Commerce. On the day of our meeting, Andrea spent the morning planning the Innovation & Sustainability Summit 2023 “Driving the Green Transition Forward Together”, together with Kerstin Gerlagh, General Manager of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce. As one of the Chamber’s flagship events, the Summit will be gathering experts, government representatives, and business leaders at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam in December to engage in forefront discussions on the green transition.

Andrea envisions the summit as a platform for in-depth discussions on the green transition, emphasizing its connection to both sustainable energy sources and circular economy solutions. She asserts the systemic level of these processes, involving collaboration across industries, countries, the entire European continent, and globally:

“We are way beyond stating that we need to start talking about it, beyond claiming that it is one company that needs to change, beyond blaming one specific industry. I want the summit to push things further and showcase how everything is connected.”

Accordingly, the speakers and panelists invited to talk at the summit have been carefully chosen to reflect such cooperation. Andrea explains that the conversation will center a lot around resources, as the key thing tying all these actors together:

“We already know that certain resources are limited, and some are very hard to get, due to everything from the rareness of minerals to the working conditions behind getting certain resources. Of course, many of these essential resources are very inconveniently located across the world. At the summit, we are going to see that whether you work within an aerospace and defense company, creating renewable energy, with rethinking the traditional business model in the furniture industry, resources are at the very core of any conversation on green transition. How we have access to resources, how we extract the highest value from them, how we design products and services, how we ensure they remain in the loop, and how we can make the green transition as inclusive and just as possible: It is a big opportunity for a better future for us all.”

As Andrea prepares for the summit, she highlights the importance of business leaders participating in discussions from a perspective of vulnerability. She emphasizes the need for companies to commit to sustainability with clear targets and roadmaps to reach these, and strong leadership, advocating for the integration of sustainability into every aspect of a company:

“It is not about perfectionism from the beginning, but about a clear plan and real effort. Every single employee needs to be aligned with the company’s strategy that has sustainability at its heart. No matter whether they’re working in HR, finance, marketing, operation, sales, or legal – whoever it is, they need to understand that they have a huge role to play”.

Reflecting on her association with the Swedish Chamber of Commerce, Andrea notes a full-circle moment, as her first contact with the organization occurred five years ago at an event at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam. Her ties to Sweden and the Nordic countries trace back over 18 years, including studying at Lund University, writing a master’s thesis on Sweden’s positioning in the EU, working for a Finnish company focused on sustainable innovation in technology, chairing the first Nordic Circular Economy summits and moderating #NordicTalks. She describes how the Nordic way of thinking about sustainability and way of living always has felt appealing to her:

“These experiences with the Nordics were so important to me since they showed me that what I knew from my home country could be done differently – and differently in a way that felt very natural to me. My curiosity was suddenly encouraged and appreciated; people wanted to hear my opinion. It meant a life-changing notion of empowerment”.

Andrea’s idealistic approach shines through in our conversation, leaving us anticipating her dynamic facilitation of conversations at the Innovation & Sustainability Summit.

Want to learn more about the Innovation & Sustainability Summit 2023? You can find all the information on the event here.

Want to find more exclusive interviews from the Swedish Chamber Insight? Read our interview with H.E. Ambassador Johannes Oljelund here.

Written by Alexandra Gummesson for Swedish Chamber Insights