Conversation Starters

Helen Hodgkinson

Co-founder of CACTUS. Travel payment specialist and experienced payment product manager.

Helen Hodgkinson

Most of my career has been spent in corporate travel payments at Barclaycard and there was a point in 2019 when I started to question the lack of meaningful content on conference agendas and in meeting rooms about the impact of our sector on the planet and our environment.  It struck me that it was going to be a difficult conversation to have which would challenge some of the activities of our sector and ultimately recommend doing less.  In the modern view of business or economic ‘success’ this was, and still is for many, the ultimate oxymoron.

Lee Jackson

I have worked in and around the travel industry for almost forty years. In the past decade I’ve had commercial roles with WEX and Diners Club UK providing payments solutions for the Corporate Travel sector, roles that included regular liaison with the industry and the camaraderie that comes from many longstanding relationships.

Lee Jackson

Co-founder of CACTUS.

Paul Tilstone

Managing Partner of FESTIVE ROAD

Paul Tilstone

The opportunity to support the development of an environment for all of the difficult conversations we need to have as a sector was too good an opportunity to miss, that’s why I supported the foundation of CACTUS.

Julia Fidler

The independent nature of CACTUS is an important differentiator and is part of why supporting CACTUS is important to me personally. Many of the conversations around sustainability and travel seemed to be restricted or partially biased in some way which had been limiting the possibility for really open and honest discussion – and importantly, for all of us to learn.

Julia Fidler

Senior Sustainability Program Manager - Microsoft

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Helen Hodgkinson​

Most of my career has been spent in corporate travel payments at Barclaycard and there was a point in 2019 when I started to question the lack of meaningful content on conference agendas and in meeting rooms about the impact of our sector on the planet and our environment.  It struck me that it was going to be a difficult conversation to have which would challenge some of the activities of our sector and ultimately recommend doing less.  In the modern view of business or economic ‘success’ this was, and still is for many, the ultimate oxymoron.

At the same time, I was introduced to Lee by an industry colleague who, to my relief, is as terrified as me about the damage that we are causing to our planet and environment.

We set up CACTUS as a voluntary, collaborative and inclusive group with the intention of understanding the macro view of the challenge that we face. We wanted to focus on the  science that guides what we need to achieve in a very short space of time, in terms of decarbonisation of our sector, and on reversing our impact on nature and biodiversity.

It has been incredible to connect with many people in our sector who are passionate about stepping up to the demands of the climate and ecological emergency, and we recognise that whilst it can feel very complex and overwhelming, there are many experts and resources that can help us achieve our goals.

In addition to my work with CACTUS, I am also a Parish Councillor in my local community as well as taking my Forest School Teacher Training Level 3 Certificate.

Lee Jackson

I have worked in and around the travel industry for almost forty years. In the past decade I’ve had commercial roles with WEX and Diners Club UK providing payments solutions for the Corporate Travel sector, roles that included regular liaison with the industry and the camaraderie that comes from many longstanding relationships.

In recent years I have undertaken a CPD course through Northumbria University in order to understand in greater detail the environmental impact of industry, and in particular how carbon emissions are measured and reported. 

Following this learning I now work as the Commercial Director for SmartCarbon, a carbon emissions platform and consultancy business that helps companies to calculate, report and reduce their respective emissions. 

My grandfather was a coal miner, my father was a dairy farmer, and I was responsible for helping to put millions of people on aeroplanes for a quarter of a century. My family have all unwittingly played their part in getting us to here, just like others have too,  and I believe my role now is to do everything I can to unwind that damage before my children have to pay the price! 

 

Paul Tilstone

The opportunity to support the development of an environment for all of the difficult conversations we need to have as a sector was too good an opportunity to miss, that’s why I supported the foundation of CACTUS.

Having been one of the founders of “Project ICARUS” at the Institute of Travel Management back in 2006, I was disappointed the project faded as it moved to global control, and there seemed no place for science based, had fact-based dialogue.

This is what I hope for CACTUS and my support behind the scenes is intended to ensure the community grows in the right way to achieve the objectives we all initially envisioned.

Julia Fidler

The independent nature of CACTUS is an important differentiator and is part of why supporting CACTUS is important to me personally. Many of the conversations around sustainability and travel seemed to be restricted or partially biased in some way which had been limiting the possibility for really open and honest discussion – and importantly, for all of us to learn.

Some of the science is uncomfortable, especially for those who are employed within the travel industry, however this doesn’t make it any less important or factually incorrect. If we care about our own future and that of our children, we need to care about the planet and choose to be part of the solution, not the problem, and to do that we need to support each other’s learning journey. I have loved the engagement and passion shared by everybody I have met through CACTUS and at times this path can feel overwhelming, motivation and support from others is critically valuable.

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