An interview with Alexandra Kornilova, founder of The Good Climate
Alexandra Kornilova has a MSc. in Environmental Change and Management from Oxford University. She is a strategic thinker with 20 years of international experience, focusing on sustainability , circular economy, environmental policy, decarbonisation, fundraising, impact investing, business development and community building. As her primary purpose, she states to contribute to a positive systemic environmental and social change in the world we live in and that she is an environmentalist and a social change maker by nature and profession.
We are delighted to have you for our interview!
First, we would like to know a little bit about your story.
Q: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? How did you get started?
The entrepreneurial spirit of my family and our friends from business networks taught me to think like an entrepreneur. Once Covid immersed, I started to reflect on the changing situation in the world, the root causes of Covid, and possible adaptation strategies. I assessed my resources, network, skills, and the market gap where my skills are most needed. I looked at the job market and available positions and could not find anything that would inspire me and make good use of the knowledge and skills I possess. At that time, I lived in Berlin and imagined a sunny place with a hospitable culture for my future. I decided that I could build a great bridge between Europe and the Middle East, so I flew to Dubai for some first investigation - two months later, I set up my company there! My husband kindly stayed with our three kids for the first time during our 16-year marriage. I believe he had a transformational time in those two months with highly demanding and elaborating teenagers and a super active 8-year-old!
Q: Apart from the weather, what were other reasons you chose Dubai for setting up your business? What were the biggest hurdles and what was maybe easier than you thought?
I specifically investigated the business climate in the UAE and identified an interesting trend toward sustainability, innovation, fast digitalisation, and quick adaptation strategies in a fast-changing environment. The country hosted EXPO2020, for the first time in the region with incredible success, bringing 192 countries together, connecting minds - creating the sustainable future. Dubai will host COP28 in 2023, the Climate Conference.
Setting up a company was very easy. Opening a bank account was more of a challenge until I realized that terms can be negotiated, it is like going to a market and selecting the best ripe fruits, Middle Eastern market where negotiation games are imbedded in everyday life.
Q: What is the best advice you have received (on your journey as a founder)?
Keep it as simple as possible. Do not invest until you have your first revenues.
Q: What has been your most significant challenge as a founder? What steps did you take to overcome it?
Find the right partners with whom you are 100% aligned and trust.
I found an amazing partner Yasmeen, through an introduction. We spend hours on zoom calls learning more about each other and discussing business strategies and project development. It feels like we are sisters regarding our shared values and worldview.
We are also very complimentary and inspiring to each other, setting the bar high.
Q: What have been the most significant gains?
Certainly, the flexibility of my time as I can plan my calendar myself, choose people of high ethical standards, intellectual capacity, and empathy whom I would like to work with.
Q: That makes a lot of sense. What are the most important things around which you now plan your calendar? And what are the “musts” for you to be included into it every week?
Quite a few business trips are coming up to Central Asia and Africa, and I plan my summer accordingly. There is a lot of work to be done in these regions severely affected by climate change, with the growing population, economic, social challenges, water scarcity, high air pollution, and lack of infrastructure.
Sport and music are my regular everyday exercises to stay physically and mentally fit, focused, flexible and inspired. I run, do ballet stretching, play the piano and listen to beautiful music.
Q: What is one book you recommend, and why?
“How remarkable women lead. The Breakthrough model for work and life” by Joanna Barsh and Sussie Cranston. Great lifehacks and inspiration from extraordinary women!
Q: In one sentence, what's the best advice you would give to young founders or someone just starting their entrepreneurial journey?
Keep your positive financial inflows stable, your job, and check a simple business model first.
Q: In terms of legacy, what is your mission – what does the world you want to create look like?
We would like to help change many companies from business as usual to net-positive companies. Former CEO of Unilever, Paul Polman, asserted that a net-positive company improves the lives of everyone it touches, from customers to communities, increasing long-term shareholder returns in the process.
A net-positive company takes ownership of all the social and environmental impacts it creates and provides opportunities for innovation and savings while building an inclusive, purpose-driven culture where people thrive.
This is what we should all strive for.
Thank you so much for the interview, Alexandra! We wish you all the best of success for you and The Good Climate.
To keep an eye on The Good Climate, visit https://www.thegoodclimate.com/ or follow @thegoodclimate
If you know someone who would be a great fit for the KavAdemy Founder Profile series, let us know by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.