Meet the GCX Team: In Conversation with Thabo Mthembu

Meet the newest member of the GCX Team - Thabo Mthembu, our Business Development Manager. He tells us more about his work at GCX, his hopes for the industry and his fascination with asparagus!
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Thabo recently joined the GCX family as the Business Development Manager. Thabo started his career as a climate change and energy policy researcher with WWF International’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative (GCEI) where he did research on the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process, which included participating in key UNFCCC sessions such as the Conference of Parties (COP), the decision-making body that monitors and reviews climate pledges by UNFCCC signatory countries. He also worked for WWF South Africa as a policy researcher on low carbon energy systems with the then Living Planet Unit (LPU), doing policy outreach work on sustainable energy access. Later Thabo worked on an initiative with WWF Sweden and WWF South Africa called ‘Climate Solver’, which is a digital clean technology platform in partnership with Sustainia that identifies and supports innovative entrepreneurs in the clean technology sector in China, India, Sweden and South Africa. Thabo holds a Masters Degree in global studies and Postgraduate Certificates in energy, climate change and renewable energy project finance fundamentals.

How did you first learn about GCX and what first drew you to the company?

I heard about GCX through my outreach work as a researcher with small-scale organic energy waste to energy producers in the Western Cape, in particular their pyrolysis plant, which I found quite innovative.

What do you like the most about GCX and what is your favourite part of working there?

A motivated and passionate team of diverse individuals tackling an important area of environmental sustainability. My favourite part is to see technology being leveraged to provide our clients with business value that they can quantify. I find that immensely rewarding, especially when clients give us good feedback.

Is there a particular project you’re currently working on that you are really enjoying? If so, why?

Quite a few areas, perhaps the most immediate that comes to mind is our ESG investor reporting framework which is designed to assist our clients to be leaders and key influencers in ESG sustainability reporting. I really enjoy this area because it is fast becoming an important area not only for reporting purposes but also for influencing the flow and cost of capital for ESG-driven investor decisions on equity and debt.

What, in your opinion, are the three words that best describe GCX?

Motivation, hard-work and team-work.

If you could switch your job with anyone else at GCX, whose job would you want and why?

I would trade jobs with the CEO, he has an unusually sharp detailed memory about people, events and everything and is quite pragmatic. I also like his motivation and passion for the sustainability business, which I’ve come to find inspiring.

What are your hopes for the sustainability industry, and in particular GCX’s clients?

That they take full advantage of our suite of solutions and products in order to position themselves as leaders, not laggards, especially insofar as ESG reporting is concerned. Many executives and boards are inherently exposed to ESG risk now more than ever due to the sheer velocity and complexity of ESG related issues, and a lack of easy to use ESG tools to pre-emptively manage such dynamic risks.

Before working at GCX, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

When I was a postgraduate student in a small town in the extreme Southwest of Germany, I was always fascinated by Asparagus, so I requested one of my hosts if I could get work on his farm on weekends to harvest white asparagus, it turned out to be great fun. I was paid with a lot of asparagus and berries.

What would you say is the biggest career lesson you’ve learnt thus far?

Motivation, personality and intellectual curiosity is key to making a success of anything you do. That is what I have learned over time.

What are some of the books you’ve read recently and would recommend to others?

I’d recommend three in no particular order:

The Technology Trap: Capital, Labour and Power in the Age of Automation by Carl Frey

Where Power Stops: The Making and Unmaking of Presidents and Prime Ministers by David Runciman

The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan

Where is your favourite holiday destination in South Africa?

Hermanus

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