NextGen Sustainability Council

We have a network of enthusiastic ambassadors who collaborate with our global sustainability team in an effort to build awareness, challenge current thinking and drive positive change.

Our NextGen Council is a group of leaders in sustainability who bring fresh perspectives on sustainable development. It was established in 2021 by a group of 12 passionate young colleagues, who identified a gap they could fill by preparing the company’s next generation of leaders.


Since being set up, the council has grown every year, boosted by new joiners and existing members who stay for the second year of the possible two-year term. Up to 15 people join each year and are encouraged to challenge the status quo while learning the skills required to be future leaders of AkzoNobel. They’re encouraged to proactively give input, share ideas and express how we can improve and prepare for the future as a company.

One of the key motivators for starting the NextGen Council was the growing number of employees who are passionate about sustainability in our workforce. This council enables us to bring the world’s issues to AkzoNobel and find solutions through our everyday activities. No matter where you work in the organization or the position you have, everyone plays an important role in helping us to achieve our goals.

Meet some of our members

Kirsty Smallman, Senior Legal Counsel Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa

“Sustainability to me means doing what I can now to ensure that I leave the world a little better than I found it for future generations. I’m proud to serve on the NextGen Sustainability Council and look forward to collaborating with my peers in order to do my part, not only towards AkzoNobel’s vision of Paint the Future, but also for the broader community. I hope to engage with like-minded colleagues to make a more valuable impact in the sustainability space."

Tushar Gholve, Procurement and Process Manager

“I'm personally driven by a deep-rooted concern for our planet's well-being. By spearheading initiatives that prioritize renewable materials, energy efficiency and waste reduction, we're harmonizing ecological preservation with innovative business practices. This synergy not only mirrors my personal values, but also reinforces our company's reputation as a responsible industry leader. Through unwavering dedication to sustainability, we are and will harmonize profitability with planetary health, propelling us into a more conscious and prosperous future.”

Abbey Reding, North America Communications Manager

“As part of my job, I talk to our external stakeholders in the media and public officials about AkzoNobel and our role in global sustainability. It’s important that we share the progress we’re making in each of our businesses in reaching our sustainability goals and working with our suppliers to use new technology. I’m proud to be able to make legislative requests to the government as we gain support from them to help us reach our sustainability goals. I look forward to what we’ll accomplish in the next chapter of our sustainability story.”

Barbara-Wasa Mabanza, NextGen Sustainability Council Vice-Chair, Commercialization Project Manager, EMEA

“Being a member of the NextGen Sustainability Council highly motivates me to take immediate action. It challenges me to actively incorporate sustainability into every project and action to make an impact. In my daily job, my focus is to facilitate delivering projects and I’m now encouraged from my engaged council colleagues to spread the word and bring others on board in tackling the serious sustainability challenges we face on a global platform.”

Timothy Vogelaar, NextGen Sustainability Council Chair; Key Account Manager, Netherlands

“It’s clear to see that sustainability is becoming more important in our daily lives and in the workplace. I strongly believe that as a council, we have the ability to make an impact, both on our future and on future generations. As the Chair of the NextGen Sustainability Council, I try to translate and connect AkzoNobel’s sustainable initiatives and build on the strategy developed by leadership. I also try to encourage new colleagues to join our efforts. I’m proud to lead the next generation of leaders for AkzoNobel and work with them to develop creative ideas to tackle our sustainability challenges.” 

Members of the council have already made a key contribution to helping us raise the sustainability bar as we continue to build on the foundations they developed. For example, the inaugural NextGen Council helped provide a fresh perspective on setting the SBTi carbon reduction targets that positioned us as a leader in the industry – we were the first paints and coatings company to have our targets approved.

Since then, the council has been working on giving a fresh outsider perspective on current business challenges, such as how waste can be reduced. This includes investigating how to stop using single use plastics, especially in labs, while a sustainable packaging model has been developed in an effort to decrease packaging waste and the company’s overall carbon footprint.

In addition, sustainability workshops are currently being held to challenge teams to think about what more they can do to move the company closer to achieving its ambitions.

And horizons are now being broadened. As a result of AkzoNobel’s Collaborative Sustainability Challenge, it became clear that the NextGen Council model could be replicated across the company’s suppliers and customers. Council members have therefore connected with other companies to build partnerships, which will play an important role in helping us to reach our Scope 3 ambitions. 

Timothy Vogelaar, NextGen Sustainability Council Chair

Would you like to learn more about our NextGen Sustainability Council?

Please feel free to contact the team at

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