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About Per Heggenes
Per Heggenes is the CEO of the IKEA Foundation, based in Leiden, The Netherlands. The foundation is the philanthropic arm of Stichting INGKA Foundation which owns the IKEA Group, the Swedish home furnishing company.
Prior to joining the foundation, Heggenes was the Global Head of Corporate Affairs and member of the Global Executive Team for the shipping and logistics company Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics.
Before joining WWL he was the UK President and CEO for the global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller and Co-CEO for Europe. Previously, he held different global roles (Global Head of Human Resources, Worldwide Chief Knowledge Officer, Global Affiliate network director) based in New York. Prior to these roles, Mr. Heggenes was chairman of the Corporate Practice in Europe followed by a period as Chief Operating Officer of Burson-Marsteller Europe. Mr. Heggenes joined Burson-Marsteller in Norway where he was appointed country manager in 1992.
He served as a journalist with the Headquarters Defense Command in Norway and graduated from the University of Augsburg in Germany with a “Diplom Oekonom” (MBA). He is married with three children and lives in Switzerland.
CEO of the IKEA Foundation, Per Heggenes, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss their focus on climate change, improving children’s lives and helping refugees become self-sufficient.
IKEA was founded in Sweden, in 1943, by Ingvar Kamprad, whose vision was to improve everyday life for the many. The IKEA Foundation is independent from the retail business with a sole focus on creating brighter lives on a liveable planet through philanthropy and grant-making
They work to create more family wealth; to enable families to afford a better life. When families have a sustainable income they will invest it in their children’s health and education. They also focus on protecting the planet and reducing greenhouse gas emissions because if nothing is done urgently there won’t be a planet for the children they’d like to help.
They support work around five themes: 1) Employment and entrepreneurship;
2) Regenerative Agriculture; 3) Climate Action; 4) Renewable Energy; and 5) Special Initiatives and Emergency Response.
Per delves into the huge challenges posed by COVID-19 and notes that for many of the people they help, the medical side of COVID-19 hasn’t been as much of an issue as have been the economic challenges presented by this pandemic; challenges in being unable to work and feed their families. Despite the challenges, this pandemic presents opportunities to accelerate development, to think outside the box and to take risks.
The IKEA Foundation has 130 partners and 185 active programmes around the world. Per explains how challenging it has been for the Foundation to engage with these 130 partners as the pandemic struck and many of them required additional funding and flexibility to survive.
Per also sheds light on the work being done by the Foundation to help refugees and invest resources towards building lives for refugees and helping them become self-reliant.
Working closely with IKEA business – they look at how refugees can get a start by having a 6-month internship with IKEA and then be able to apply for job at IKEA. This has the power to change a person’s starting point in their new environment.
Per gives insight into his personal career trajectory, coming originally from the private sector. He explains how he faced a steep learning curve coming into philanthropy from the private sector and faced scepticism from those who view business as something bad.
Encouragingly though, this sentiment has evolved a lot over the past decade and now NGOs and philanthropies see business and the private sector as an important player in trying to drive forward the big global agendas such as climate change.
Per’s key takeaway: We have very limited time left to preserve the planet and ensure the world lives within the planetary borders and does whatever it can to reduce greenhouse gases, because without that almost everything else becomes secondary.
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