EGF Member Spotlight: Greg McManus from Heritage

Each month we shine the light on an Event Greening Forum member who is doing great work in the field of sustainability. This month we are putting the EGF’s Chairperson, Greg McManus, in the spotlight. Because although you know him as our Chairperson, you might not know a lot about him or his ‘real’ job!

 

 

Q. EGF MEMBERS KNOW YOU AS THE ASSOCIATION’S CHAIRPERSON, BUT I DON’T THINK THEY ALL KNOW WHAT YOUR ‘REAL’ JOB IS. PLEASE CAN YOU TELL US WHAT YOU DO, INCLUDING SOME DETAILS AS TO WHAT THIS INVOLVES?
I have a company called Qualitour, which is a tourism quality management consulting and rating business. It initially focused on the hotel sector and grading, but in 2000, I launched Heritage as southern Africa’s first tourism environmental rating system. We consult to the broader hospitality sector on quality and sustainability issues, and certification as a business tool.

 

Q. WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING, WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX AND RECHARGE?
I am an avid motorcycle junkie and spend most of my spare time either riding or leading motorcycle tours, or working on my model train layout when I can’t ride. I find no matter how bad my day is, getting on my bike is perhaps the best and most rewarding way of decompressing.

 

Q. HOW DID YOU DEVELOP AN AWARENESS ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY, AND A DESIRE TO CHAMPION IT THROUGH YOUR WORK?
I suppose I have been environmentally aware since my teens, and my previous role as Director of Standards at SA Tourism allowed me to explore the possibility of ‘main-streaming’ the issue into a grading and certification initiative. I firmly believe that this is going to be the differentiator in business in a short-while, and that business owners will come to understand the need for better business practice.

 

Perhaps the greatest bug-bear I have is meeting people that believe that because they switch lights off, they are operating a ‘Green Business’. The high levels of sustainably disorientated businesses and the lack of understanding of the issues remains a challenge in our world.

 

Q. I IMAGINE THAT AT HERITAGE YOU RUN A VERY GREEN SHIP; CAN YOU SHARE SOME OF THE MEASURES YOU HAVE TAKEN TO MAKE SURE YOU OPERATE SUSTAINABLY?
We try to practice much of what we preach and operate in as a sustainable way as possible. Transport and travel remain our largest impacts because of what we do – and we schedule our trips carefully to avoid duplication. We have also moved from a paper-based environment to an almost 90% electronic business. We watch our waste streams and participate in our neighborhood recycling programme, and our energy and water consumption is always at the forefront of what we do.

 

Q. DO YOU HAVE ANY SUSTAINABILITY BUG BEARS?
Perhaps the greatest bug-bear I have is meeting people that believe that because they switch lights off, they are operating a ‘Green Business’. The high levels of sustainably disorientated businesses and the lack of understanding of the issues remains a challenge in our world.

 

Q. PRIOR TO HERITAGE, YOU WORKED IN THE HOTEL INDUSTRY. CAN YOU GIVE US A QUICK OVERVIEW OF YOUR CAREER, FROM YOUR VERY FIRST JOB TO FOUNDING HERITAGE?
This year marks my 40th anniversary of working in the hotel and hospitality industry. I started at the Carlton Hotel in Johannesburg and worked at a number of hotels and groups in various management positions until joining the SA Tourism Board (SATOUR) in 1986 as a Hotel Inspector. I was appointed Director of Standards in 1992 and developed SA’s first voluntary grading system before launching my own company Qualitour in 1996.

 

Q. WHAT WERE YOUR TOP 3 HIGHLIGHTS ON THIS JOURNEY?
My top three would be my grounding at perhaps the finest hotel in this country at the time, my appointment as Director of Standards, and then starting my own business. It has been an interesting journey.

 

Unfortunately, the issue of Climate Change is used as a tool to create fear and doomsday scenarios, and all this does is make people freeze in terror – and do nothing. Understand how your business  (and life) is making an impact, and then start addressing this in a way that makes sense for your business. Sustainability and ‘green meetings’ is not rocket-science – just common sense and something anyone can do.

 

Q. CLIMATE CHANGE IS FINALLY BEING ACKNOWLEDGED AS A PROBLEM, BUT MANY PEOPLE DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT. WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE KEY ACTIONS THAT BUSINESSES IN THE EVENTS INDUSTRY NEED TO TAKE NOW, TO ENSURE THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOME FOR THEIR FUTURE?
Perhaps the starting point is to acknowledge that your business has an impact, and then to start doing something about it. Unfortunately, the issue of Climate Change is used as a tool to create fear and doomsday scenarios, and all this does is make people freeze in terror – and do nothing. Understand how your business  (and life) is making an impact, and then start addressing this in a way that makes sense for your business. Sustainability and ‘green meetings’ is not rocket-science – just common sense and something anyone can do.

 

If we look at the number of events held in SA each year, less than 1% have gone green, so there is so much that we can achieve together. This sector has perhaps one of the highest impacts on the environment without even realizing it, so hopefully we can change that.

 

Q. WHAT IS ONE THING ABOUT EVENT GREENING THAT YOU WISH EVERYONE KNEW?
That greener events make good business sense. If we look at the number of events held in SA each year, less than 1% have gone green, so there is so much that we can achieve together. This sector has perhaps one of the highest impacts on the environment without even realizing it, so hopefully we can change that.

 

Q. ANY FINAL WORDS FOR OUR READERS?
As a reader of this, you are already a convert to greener and more sustainable events. Now reach out and encourage everyone that you do business with to join the EGF and help us make a difference. Help us make South Africa the most sustainable business and leisure travel destination globally.

 

To learn more about Heritage, you can
view its EGF membership profile here.
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