Amanda North believes businesses must play a central role in creating a more just and sustainable world while providing exceptional results for stakeholders. She puts this philosophy to work every day as CEO/founder of Plan C Advisors, a consultancy that equips boards and business leaders to accelerate climate action in their companies. Through her consulting work, board roles, and volunteer activities on climate and ESG, Amanda leverages her expertise on board strategy, value creation, and stakeholder engagement to guide organizations towards a resilient and sustainable future.
Tell us about Plan C Advisors. What inspires you about your work?
Climate is an existential crisis already wreaking havoc on business and society. But I also believe business can play a significant role in combating climate change if company leaders are informed about its risks and opportunities and understand how it ties into their fiduciary responsibilities.
I founded Plan C Advisors specifically to deliver climate education and strategy services to board directors and business leaders. I and my team translate the impacts of climate into the language of business—what is important to our clients in running their companies. And we deliver the information through our team of former practitioners—people who have led the climate and ESG initiatives of global brands across different industry groups. Our team is credible to business leaders because we have walked in their shoes. All of us at Plan C share our passion for making a difference, for leveraging our corporate experiences to guide as many companies as possible to take aggressive climate action, for the good of all stakeholders.
Tell us what sparked your interest in climate and sustainability, when did it begin?
When I was beginning my career and just coming out of college, clean energy really appealed to me. It required taking an intersectional view of the world, crossing bounds, leaning on collaboration, and taking a different view of the world. In the early 1980s, I could see the start of decentralized energy through wind and solar. I could see shifts in how we rethink the role of things such as public utilities. Laws began to come into play that would, for example, require utilities to buy back power from the use of independent operators. But the sector fell off the cliff in the mid-’80s and I faced the need to shift careers.
Is that how you initially wound up in tech?
I ended up working for Apple, in the tech sector, seemingly on a completely different path. But what drew me to Apple was that it was very purpose-driven. It built a brand on “thinking different” about how technology can empower people. It captured my imagination and the imaginations of people around the world. I also appreciated that Apple attracted people from all different backgrounds, who coalesced with wild creativity. Working there, being on that team, we all felt that we could indeed create something different.
What did this mean for you on a personal level?
Apple recruited people with different backgrounds and points of view, and that’s what we need now more than ever to solve complex issues like climate change. I raised my children as a single parent, so I have a strong appreciation for women in the workforce and the need to embrace communities that have been marginalized. I believe in the power of “and”—we shouldn’t have to make impossible choices between our professional and personal lives, and we need to find a way to make all voices heard.
I carry that belief to my current work in Climate Action. Doing things that are good for business can, and must, also be good for society. Climate Action IS Climate Justice.
What’s changed between business and sustainability since you entered the workforce?
An author named Rebecca Hendersen recently wrote Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire. That title says it all because capitalism has gone askew, starting around the 1980s. Before, there was a healthy interaction between the public and private sectors. There was a feeling that business must play a role in society, treat people well, do the right things, and so on. But then, it shifted to a focus on short-term shareholder measured by quarterly earnings. Yet, to be sustainable in the long run, businesses need a healthy world and a healthy society around them. Covid has made that abundantly clear and increasingly the impacts of climate change also are driving that fact home. Leading investors understand this, and are requiring a longer-term, more stakeholder-centric stance from their portfolio companies and their board directors to protect their investments against systemic threats like climate change.
You’ve mentioned that mentoring is a big passion of yours. What makes it so?
Nothing has given me more satisfaction throughout my career. I especially enjoy embracing people at the beginning of their careers and giving opportunities, writing recommendations – simply seeing them prosper. I have a plant outside on my deck that a young lady gave me who interned with me a few years ago. The plant is now enormous, having grown from a small succulent. It reminds me of her path and her growth.
I’m also passionate about helping women navigate the challenges of their careers, including getting on boards. This is one reason why I’m thrilled to be working with Athena. Not only do I enjoy educating the community about climate and sustainability, but also helping members become strategic board directors. One of the most important topics for today’s board directors is climate competency, now a requirement by many investors. Helping women excel in the area of climate and bring that knowledge to their boards is one of the most satisfying and important things that I and my Plan C team do.
Athena members can view Amanda’s and her team’s collection of climate-action Salons when logged into Athena. Members may also join her casual monthly Climate Conversations to engage with her and other members around a variety of ESG topics.
Workers at every level are re-thinking what it means to work, to feel…
Athena works with women leaders on their journey to the boardroom, creating their…
Athena member Purvee Kondal shares how biases have shaped her as a person…
Meet Athena member Katelin Holloway, an investor, people & culture executive, and belonging…
The following tips are adapted from Meg Crofton’s Journey to the Boardroom guide,…
Tenia Davis is a seasoned HR leader with decades of experience in the…