Interview with Graham Major-Ex, Head of Green Revenue
Originally thinking that he’d pursue a career on Wall Street, Graham Major-Ex’s job path had other plans. After founding a company working closely with China during university, the fluent Mandarin speaker relocated to Asia to consult clients including Apple, IKEA and Nike. After his time in China, Graham returned to his native New York taking a position at American Express.
Since then, Graham has brought the world of strategy and finance to join with his intention to tackle climate change. He has earned an MBA in Renewable Energy, completed Al Gore’s Climate Leadership course, and is eagerly awaiting publication of his article in the Springer Handbook of Climate Change Management. In April 2020, Graham joined sennder as Head of Green Revenue. In his position, Graham leads the development of advanced fuel offerings and other low-carbon business solutions. He combines strategically growing shippers’ ability to achieve emissions reductions with growing the core business at sennder - providing excellent quality transport at scale.
The term ‘Green Business’ is very broad. If you had to describe it in a few sentences, what would they be?
My title is Head of Green Revenue and I think that these two words really show what this concept means - green means doing something good: reducing emissions. The second part “revenue” means business. At sennder, we provide real business solutions to our clients. Our clients want to reduce their emissions from transport and that is exactly what we're providing. This is not a charity divorced from our core businesses - it is the strategically important addition to our innovative business, our digital platform and forward thinking technology. My position as head of Green Revenue is not a standard job role that is part of every company’s structure and it’s one that I’m very excited about. We jointly identified the need to drive Green Business forward as a part of the core business and now we listen every day to our shippers who confirm that demand. Therefore, we created this position to accomplish the goal of proposing something innovative and advanced based on real business needs.
Tell us more about your position. What are you doing in your role?
We provide our clients with advanced fuels that reduce carbon emissions by 90 percent compared to fossil diesel. There's one type of advanced fuel in particular called HVO which is a high-grade diesel that is manufactured from recycled oil waste products such as used frying oil from fast food chains. It's an amazing process that essentially turns waste into high-grade diesel fuel. In Germany, basically every large truck runs on diesel. By law, seven percent biofuel must be mixed into diesel fuel sold at the pump but that only reduces emissions by about three percent compared to 100% fossil diesel. However, at sennder we have clients on the road using HVO biodiesel, which reduces emissions by 90%.
This means you can run ten trucks for the same amount of emissions as you would normally run with one truck. The other type of biofuel we're using (currently only in France) is B100, which has about a 60 percent carbon reduction.
We are also measuring carbon emissions and reporting them to our customers. In this way, our clients can keep track of the impact of their transport and how much progress they are making. For us too, it is decisive to know how we are doing and to stay on top of our success in reducing emissions.
It is also key to ask what we are doing for our own business. 99% of our emissions come from transport operations, which isn't surprising for a highly-digitized trucking company. However, one percent is still significant because it's what we contribute as a company and as employees to emissions. At sennder, we calculate our own carbon footprint and have made the decision to switch every single sennder office to 100% renewable energy. As of September 2020, our HQ in Berlin made this switch and by Q2 2021, all our offices will be running on 100% renewable energy like solar and wind.
Is sennder showing the industry what it means to be a Green Business?
sennder is disrupting this outmoded industry, there's no question about it. Digitization of an industry is a major disruptor and bringing the best fuels available in the market to our clients is just another asset in our portfolio of disruption. The acquisition of Uber Freight Europe and merger with Everoad are examples of sennder taking the lead in this regard.
Nevertheless, I think we need to stay humble; a lot of positive things are happening both in this industry and also in other industries. We keep our eyes and ears open and are always looking to learn more - including from our clients, governments, academia and companies around the world - we want to put the best minds to work on this and learn from everyone who has something to teach to continuously add to our toolbox.
How is sennder supporting its clients on their Green Business journey?
We are on this journey together. It is all about sharing experiences and knowledge. We work very closely with our clients to implement innovations. When it comes to how we can help implement change in the transport business, I think the first step is to be a partner. We need to approach this from the mindset of how we can work on this significant problem together - it requires a different way of thinking about the approach and implementation.
There needs to be a “yes” mindset, an openness to trying new solutions, rather than locking in existing processes. I think that partnership angle is a key to success. When it comes to what we can do, I mentioned earlier our use of advanced fuels, I also think that carbon reporting is key - this way our clients can see how they have improved with sennder and what future goals they want to set with us. Those are all solutions that take partnership, and we are excited about that.
Do you think there is a particular country that is doing well in being “green”?
I would say the Netherlands and Scandinavia, but I hesitate to say this because I think all countries have the ability to do well today.
It's more about the implementation of Green Business rather than who happens to be ahead right now. Scandinavia has been doing this for the last 15-20 years, so obviously they are ahead in this moment. But in Germany, sennder is offering 90% carbon reduction - the reason we can do this is because we went out and found the fuel partners, our carriers are ready to go, and we have a digital network that allows us to execute on that.
That's the difference between the decade ending in 2019 and the one beginning in 2020: this is much more of a question about implementation and ‘how’ a business implements its green strategy rather than a question of ‘if it’s possible to be green.’
How do you see sennder’s Green Business growing?
A lot of it is about increasing the geographical scope of our volume and touch points. sennder currently offers advanced fuels in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and France. In France and Germany, we're really working on expanding that scope so that we can cover the entirety of those countries. I'm also very excited about being introduced to more and more creative partners who are used to working with these advanced fuels.
Looking to the future, there's so much in the pipeline - it's amazing to see. As well as growing my team, in 2021, carbon accounting is going to be automated. This means that customers can automatically receive monthly reports on their carbon emissions. Customers have also been seeking more and more to use advanced and future technologies - we have requests for pilot programs with electric vehicles. Although this is a little further down the pipeline, we're really pushing for it. The growth is very exciting.
Do you want to know more about Green Business at sennder? Check out our website! It gives you all the insights: https://www.sennder.com/green-business