On Earth Day 2021, Meet The B-School Sustainability Graduates

Name: Jean Moreau

Hometown: Born and raised in Toulouse, currently living in Paris

Fun Fact About Yourself: I can breastfeed a child as you may see here. Actually this photo was a way to announce our commitment to gender equality by giving extra paternity leave to our employees, beyond what is required by law. A good joke for a true cause.

Business School Degree Program: ESSEC Business School (Master in Finance) and Sciences Po Paris (Public Affairs)

1. What do you do? And how do you impact sustainability through is?

I am the co-founder and CEO of Phenix, a Tech for Good start-up that develops solutions to never waste unsold products. You cannot imagine Phenix’s business model outside of the sustainable economy. Our project is to prove that we can build a business model that is profitable for 100% of the stakeholders. We use tech to fight food waste in 5 countries with B2B and B2C digital solutions. We have already saved more than 120 million meals from the bin. Fighting food waste involves challenges of two types: ecological – because it represents a significant portion of Co2 emissions in France – but also social because in France 8 million people suffer from food insecurity.

2. What does World Earth Day mean to you?

The idea of acting to reduce food waste came to my mind when I was looking at the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from the UN 2030 Agenda. I was seeking social entrepreneurship opportunities and I learnt that a third of the food we grow in the World is simply wasted. So for me, on this special day, preserving the Earth means protecting our food and, through that, our lands, our water, and basically all our natural resources by encouraging responsible consumption and production (SDG number 12).

3. What is your top tip for living a more sustainable life?

I eat less meat. It’s an easy way to decrease our carbon footprint. It is also a good opportunity to taste new fruits and vegetables. I also try to avoid useless packaging and to fight the plastic craziness. And of course I use the Phenix mobile app to save unsold products in my neighborhood.

4. Has climate change affected your life? If so- how?

Since I don’t live in Bangladesh or another country already highly affected by the flood that is coming due to global warming, I am not as affected by climate change as other citizens around the World. However it has affected me since I changed my life to fight against food waste. Seven years ago I was an investment banker and now I am doing what I do for my children, for their future. So yes climate change changed my life, or at least my career.

5. How has your business school experience helped your career in in this area?

Phenix is a company, not an NGO. We make money as any other company does. I manage Phenix as it is : a business for good, but a business. Of course what I have learned from ESSEC Business School is highly useful in my daily job. It provided me with a strong general business education and I gained a core set of skills that help me every day in running my own business, from building business plans to managing more than 200 employees. Nonetheless, I wanted to rethink the way we are doing business. This is why Phenix is a social business.

6. What is the biggest/most important lesson you have learned during your studies?

Good people make good companies. If you want to succeed, you must partner with the right people and for sure avoid the negative and time-consuming ones. You cannot do everything. You need people and you need to trust them. So recruiting the right people for the right tasks is key.

Phenix is a tech company, but investing everything in our tech tools would not be efficient. We invest a lot of money to recruit talented people. It’s way more important than the tech part, even in a tech company.

7. Where do you see yourself in five years?

I have been doing this job for seven years now. But the job of CEO is an evolving one, and actually I have been doing seven different roles over the past seven years. I love my job and my team. I am proud of what we have achieved and I still want to improve our impact. However I am also the dad of two young kids. I may retire one day to have more time for my family. Perhaps I will take on a new challenge in a few years. I also dream of taking over a football club with friends one day. And dreams are made to come true.

8. Finally, what are your hopes for the future?

Saving more and more meals with our team, in many more countries! We hope we will keep paving the way to show that another way of doing business is possible. We want to embody a new way of thinking about business and entrepreneurship: creating jobs and making money, yes, but also having a positive impact on our planet, socially and environmentally because both are essential. 

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.