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In these uncertain times, there’s a question every business must ask itself: how do you prepare for the future?

The question comes in two parts, since we have to consider the younger generation and the state of the planet itself.

And it’s a question we’re committed to answering.

To this end, we sent some Fujitsu representatives to the Sustainable Banking Graduate Challenge event, organised by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) earlier this month.

I was lucky enough to be invited alongside our Corporate Social Responsibility team, with Juliet Silvester – Fujitsu’s Head of Responsible Business, Craig Hall – Fujitsu’s Head of Charity Corporate Partnerships and Kevin Spence – Fujitsu Client Executive for RBS.

150 RBS graduates and apprentices attended the event, where teams pitched their best ideas to solve a sustainability problem.

The top 10 pitches were invited to a ‘Dragon’s Den’-style play-off, with myself, Juliet and Craig taking part in the panel discussion.

The winning idea will be implemented by RBS alongside the team of graduates themselves. This is a fantastic example of engaging with junior talent to implement measurable change across the business- a statement that Fujitsu themselves have been able to champion across the organisation.

In this way, the event sought to engage with the new generation and solve the challenges that lie within overcoming sustainability across the financial services sector, all at once.

Or at least, make a start.

Harnessing free thinking

The thing that struck me most from attending the event was the outstanding creativity, enthusiasm and professionalism demonstrated by all of the graduates and apprentices who participated.

Every team managed to deliver the brief to the highest possible standard; the winning team presented work that I wouldn’t expect even of senior executives.

In fact, one of the reasons I enjoyed the event so much was that it opened my eyes to some totally fresh ideas.

The RBS grads have yet to develop a set idea of ‘how things are meant to be done’, which made for some great out-of-the-box thinking.

A growing commitment to future generations

The grad event has been running for only a few years now – and it’s already undergone a huge expansion.

This year, entry was opened to technology teams in India.

The event was also supported by non-executive board director and Chairman of the Sustainable Banking Committee at RBS, Penny Hughes CBE, Kirsty Britz – Director of Sustainability for RBS and RBS CEO Ross McEwan, who took the winning grads and apprentices for a reception dinner to develop their ideas and help build their network.

It was great to see the event growing and gaining momentum in this way.

At Fujitsu, we also believe we should be growing our commitment to developing young people.

We work with universities, schools and colleges across Europe to ensure that young people today have the best skills for the digital age.

In fact, several members of the Fujitsu family have been helping to design a new set of technical IT qualifications equivalent to A-levels.

A history of sustainable banking projects

Of course, we also see the huge potential for technology in the sustainability space.

Fujitsu has been working with RBS to provide forms of sustainable banking for years.

We’ve already embarked on a successful desktop transformation programme, which has resulted in a huge cost and energy saving for the bank, since the need for real estate has hugely reduced.

The grad teams themselves showed a keen appreciation for the wide application of technology to sustainability issues, devising plans including chatbots for mental health and gamification programmes to encourage employees to compete with each other on achievements that supported RBS’s responsible and sustainable business commitments.

So it’s natural that we should be involved in the graduate event.  It reflects our own values to use technology to empower sustainability – as part of our belief in ‘winning the right way’.

Answering questions about the future

It was an absolute pleasure to be a guest at the RBS’s graduate event.

Watching the young people talk about their ideas with such passion and pride was incredibly inspiring.

It makes me confident that we are in a strong position to find the answers to the sustainability questions that we’re faced with today – driven by the future generations themselves.

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