‘We hope to make a positive impact in reducing the effects of climate change.’ The CEO and Cofounder of plastic road company, MacRebur, outlines his work, vision and style of leadership
‘All innovation disrupts for good and is essential for creating a better world,’ says Toby McCartney, CEO and Cofounder of plastic road company, MacRebur.
McCartney’s company, founded in 2016, seeks to put waste plastic to good use in road construction and resurfacing. In this interview with Business Impact, he outlines how his business vision took its cue from his ‘eco warrior’ daughter and why regulations can slow down attempts to innovate and improve processes. ‘The UK is full of innovative companies that are desperate to help and be a part of the solution to climate change,’ McCartney says.
Can you tell us a little bit about your current role and what it involves?
My work as a CEO is nothing like you would imagine. Each day is different, as we continue to grow our business. One day I will be speaking with local authorities or business leaders from around the world, the next I’ll be at the MacRebur factory bagging up product for shipping to our latest project.
What are some of the challenges and opportunities you’re currently facing, both as a leader and as an organisation?
Plastic waste is a huge problem across the globe, and it’s great to see both governments and large businesses finally sit up and take notice.
However, the process to implement a simple and effective solution, such as our waste plastic roads is a difficult one – there are lots of rules and regulations in the UK that can delay the process. The UK is full of innovative companies that are desperate to help and be a part of the solution to climate change, and we should be called upon to help in any way that we can.
Do you feel that leading a company has enabled you to make a positive impact? If so, how?
The day that sparked my vision for MacRebur was at my then-six-year-old daughter’s school assembly. She is a real eco warrior, and during the assembly she was asked what lives in our oceans – her answer was ‘waste plastic’.
The work we’ve done at MacRebur has played a part in helping to create a better world for future generations, and we hope to make a positive impact in reducing the effects of climate change, creating a solution for plastics that would otherwise end up in landfill or incineration.
Please outline the importance of sustainability to your company’s strategy and why you feel it is important to business approaches as a whole today.
Sustainability is essential to MacRebur’s strategy: processing waste plastics that can’t otherwise be recycled and adding them into asphalt for road construction and resurfacing. Our main mission is to help solve the waste plastic epidemic, while also enhancing the asphalt used to make better quality road surfaces around the world.
Sustainability is hugely important when it comes to business approach. With the UK’s 2050 net zero target, companies across all industries need to innovate to reduce their effect on the environment.
Which three words best describe your approach to leadership (or your management style) and why?
‘Disrupting for good’ – these are the three words I live my life by and run my business on. All innovation disrupts for good and is essential for creating a better world.
What tops your list when looking for new hires at manager level and above?
When I look for a manager, I look beyond the skills they have, and into the values that are important to them, the identity they own and purpose they have. They must be self-managing and confident enough to take a risk and make a difference.
Did your Business School/university experience help get your business off the ground? If so, how?
I didn’t gain anything from school the first time around – I walked away with no qualifications to my name. However, something that stuck with me was my school’s motto, which was the Latin words ‘nil sine magnor labour’, or ‘nothing without hard work’. This is something that has stuck with me and has influenced some of the biggest decisions in my life. I later returned to education and secured a bachelor’s degree. This helped me come up with the idea for MacRebur, after attempting to discover the same genetic code found in the plastics we have in our homes and the bitumen used in our roads.
What single piece of advice would you offer undergraduate and postgraduate students of business and management who plan to start their own companies after completing their studies?
No matter what you do, you will never have success without first putting the work in. Work hard and the rest will follow.
Mentorship schemes in business are becoming increasingly popular. Who would have been your dream mentor when you were at the outset of your career and why?
I’ve always been inspired by Sir Richard Branson – I think there is a lot to be said for his phrase ‘dare to dream’. He even replied to a letter I sent to him when I was just nine!
I’ve been lucky enough to meet Sir Richard a few times. One of which was when I won the Virgin Media VOOM award in 2016, after pitching to a panel of business experts, including Richard himself. Winning the award was a brilliant launchpad for MacRebur, and many of the first meetings I had around the world came from Richard’s help and advice.
Toby McCartney is the CEO and Cofounder of plastic road company, MacRebur.
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