“Making a positive difference for the environment is something that has always been close to my heart,” says Hendrik Rosenthal, who was appointed CLP Director - Group Sustainability in 2018.
“Growing up, I was fascinated by the then-new concept of reusing and recycling. Talks within my community about the safety of nuclear power also exposed me to the energy industry and its social and environmental responsibilities.”
Born into a family of academics in Germany, Rosenthal seemed destined for a career in engineering or medicine. However, his interest was clearly drawn toward the environment. “Not a lot of people looked into environmental studies at that time,” he recalls.
“I initially went into environmental engineering, but later shifted my focus to the social and environmental side of things. I discovered that when it comes to sustainability, technical problems weren’t the main roadblock. Rather, it was the mentality of people and companies that we had to work on.”
Steering businesses towards change
Driven by his passion for change, Rosenthal began his career in environmental policy with government agencies in Canada, to where he moved in his teenage years. This was followed by a shift to leading sustainability research and advocacy projects for non-governmental organisations and the private sector in Asia Pacific.
“Rolling out environmental policies can be a lengthy process from a governmental perspective. When I switched over to the corporate side, I felt more empowered as it offered more leeway for me to help companies make better choices and direct them towards greater sustainability,” says Rosenthal.
Before joining CLP, Rosenthal worked in the nutrition and health sector at chemical company BASF. Based in Hong Kong and Singapore, his job was to provide specialised sustainability advisory services to corporate customers and develop corporate sustainability strategies for businesses in Asia Pacific.
“Like electricity, good nutrition and health are also essential components to life,” he says. “Take animal nutrition for instance. BASF supplies nutrient supplements for chicken feed to reduce health risks and eliminate the need for antibiotics and other negative additives.”
What fascinated him was that, even at a micronutrient level, there were opportunities to make a difference. “The products helped change the way customers raise livestock, driving them towards more ethical practices, and leading to better poultry product quality and lower costs,” he explains. “It’s essentially the holy grail for sustainability.”