Inside the B: Q&A with Mindy Leow
The Inside the B Q&A series follows employees from all across the B Global Network as they share more about their roles and what brought them to B Lab, the challenges they see for our network, and give us a peek into their personal lives. This interview was originally distributed internally to employees and board members of the B Global Network on June 25, 2021 and has been updated to account for changes that have taken place within the organization. Mindy Leow, Head of Growth and Impact at B Lab Australia & Aotearoa New Zealand, reflects on her journey to B Lab, teaching her colleagues Manglish, and what reminds her of home.
Beelan Yonas, Global Communications Manager, B Lab Global: What brought you to B Lab Australia & Aotearoa New Zealand?
Mindy Leow, Head of Impact and Growth, B Lab Australia & Aotearoa New Zealand: I moved to Australia 12 years ago, and have since been exploring the intersections of purpose and profit. I am passionate about sustainability and believe that business needs to be part of the solution rather than the problem. That was the reason I got an MBA and afterwards went to work in the social enterprise sector, which was nascent but growing in Australia. I was intrigued by how business models could be used to pursue impact, but noticed many social enterprises at the time were nonprofits and still had a charity mindset. Social enterprise is a balancing act between the social and the enterprise, and I wanted to see more impact being scaled through business models. Later, I became interested in for-profit social enterprises, especially those who are agile, innovative and embraced technology. Eventually, I went to work for one, and helped them to become B Corp Certified. When the Community Builder role at B Lab Australia & Aotearoa New Zealand came about, I knew it was perfect for me. Here I am six years on, and I love seeing how this movement is growing and maturing, globally as well as in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.
B: What does a typical day look like for you in your role?
M: In my new role as Head of Impact and Growth, I am responsible for the growth of our organization and that includes the growth of the B Corp community, but I also think about how we can scale our impact outside of certification.
On a typical day, I will have a meeting or two with aspiring B Corps; these days they are with mostly larger companies who are exploring certification. This is very different from, say, 18 months ago — when I was frequently offering impact improvement sessions directly to companies and running bi-monthly Become a B Corp online workshops. Launching the B Consultant program was an important pivot in our operations model, shifting from one-to-one to one-to-many.
I’m also currently project managing our Business For Good impact management program, which we developed with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) to help companies create an action plan and improve their impact using a range of tools, including the B Impact Assessment and B Corp best practice guides. On a typical day I would be checking in with either one of the B Consultants or facilitators who are delivering the program for us, or with NZTE.
I will also check in with Qiulae Wong who is our newest team member in a newly created role of Aotearoa New Zealand Manager. There is currently much interest for B Lab’s work in Aotearoa New Zealand, and I will be handing over the reins of the Business For Good program to Qiulae while she explores how we scale this program nationally, which is very exciting!
Finally, as part of the B Corp Climate Collective, I’m currently helping to recruit more volunteer members to deliver on our campaigns this year, which include greater adoption of renewable energy and progressing on Net Zero goals. It’s usually a pretty full day!
B: What do you see as some of the B Global Network’s biggest challenges now and in the next few years?
M: The B Corp Movement has been built over the last 15 years from the amazing work of our founders and many others who came before us. It’s incredible to see interest in certification growing alongside the general uptake of sustainability in business. In the last few years, the Certification & Verification team [the B Lab Global team responsible for evaluating and verifying applications for certification] has been working hard to grow capacity to meet certification demand – and I acknowledge their hard work and recent achievements and successes – but it seems that certification demand continues to grow at an even greater rate.
I’m also starting to see that certification may not be appropriate for all companies for a variety of reasons. Recognising the constraints of growing the verification capacity and that our network has many other pathways for businesses to still engage with our movement outside of certifying, including measuring and managing their impact using the B Impact Assessment and joining collective action initiatives like the B Corp Climate Collective, we can enable more companies to “be like B Corps.” Perhaps this is the next phase in growing the movement to empower people to use business as a force for good.
B: Is there anyone in the global network you’d want to call out for appreciation — someone that you feel goes above and beyond and has been helpful to your success here?
M: There’s so many people! I think the Certification & Verification team — they are carrying so much on their shoulders. Billy Hanafee (Senior Business Sustainability Analyst / APAC Regional Team Lead) in particular, who liaises with the Asia-Pacific region and whom we can thank for coming up with a more efficient verification process for companies with less than $5M in revenue.
I’ll also call out Ethan Brininger (Product Manager) who is now on the Product team. I appreciate the new efficiency improvement projects that he and his team have brought to life, such as the Eligibility Screen and Submission Fee.
I also want to acknowledge Paula Bonazzi (formerly, Evaluation Manager), who no longer works on B Lab Global, but had a massive job of managing the evaluation queue and she does it with such joy, grace and heart.
And finally, I don’t work with her as much anymore, but I love and miss working with Fabiana de Araujo, who brings so much care and dedication in all of her work and interactions (Senior Certification & Verification Team Manager)!
B: Do you speak any other languages besides English?
M: I grew up in Malaysia, and that’s where my family is. Most people in Malaysia speak several languages. I speak English and Bahasa Malaysia, which is the official language taught in schools. I am grateful that my father insisted that I learn Mandarin from a young age, but my family speaks the Cantonese and Hakka dialects at home, mixed in with English. Usually Malaysians include different languages in a sentence, and recently I’ve been exposing my team to Manglish — Malaysian English — and it brings me joy to see them add “lahs” to the end of their sentences! There are some funny YouTube videos about Manglish.
B: What’s a recipe you can easily prepare when you’re tired?
M: For me, it is chicken noodle soup because it’s so easy and such a comfort food. I make it with dill, which is a special ingredient taught to me by my friend. It’s dill-icious!
B: What’s something that reminds you of home?
M: Laksa — it’s a curry noodle dish. In Malaysia there are many different versions of laksa, but the one that is well adopted in Australia is curry laksa. I love seeing how popular it is here.
Tropical fruits like rambutan or jackfruit sold at Asian markets also remind me of home. I share my encounters with strange fruits with the team during our team huddles on Zoom [during a time when Mindy was working remotely in Kuala Lumpur for 15 months].