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Margaret Mistry, Equinor

March 8, 2022
Margaret Mistry
This International Women’s Day (IWD) and Women’s History Month, we’re sharing profiles of some of the outstanding sustainability leaders around the world. Read the profile of Margaret Mistry, VP of Carbon Markets at Equinor here.

The individuals we’ve interviewed come from a variety of backgrounds and their areas of expertise and responsibility are equally diverse. We’ve learned a lot from them in these conversations and are excited to follow their progress.

Q: Hello! Tell us a little about what you do at Equinor.

A: I’m VP Carbon Markets at Equinor, an international energy company based in Norway. 

The Carbon Markets team implements Equinor’s corporate carbon offsetting strategy, coordinates carbon offsetting across Equinor, and develops our position in the voluntary carbon market. 

Q: Can you tell us a little more about your background and why you chose to work in this space? 

A: I got interested in this space after supporting our then CEO, Eldar Saetre, at the Paris Climate Talks in 2015. We were advocating for a price on carbon, because we believe carbon prices work to drive better performance. I was really positively impacted by the experience.

But to look back at how I started my career, I fell into energy by accident. (I studied Theology.) I got a temp job in energy and was immediately hooked. It’s just so important; it makes the world go round. 

I spent a few years in commodity trading, and then did a stint in sustainability communications, working on the company’s climate agenda. From communications, I moved into strategy and then into innovation, where we applied the lean startup approach to develop new businesses for Equinor. It’s very motivating to be in an industry where you can shape the future.

Q: What skills do you think are particularly vital for your role and team?

A: In my team we are currently looking for people with skills in:

  • Business Development and origination 
  • Natural climate solution project development
  • Data science 

Aside from these hard skills, I look for cognitive diversity and open-mindedness. I like to bring young people in and include graduates and students in our work as well. They have a new and different generational perspective on the issues.

Q: Who are some of your role models or peers you admire?

A: I’ve had some amazing role models and sponsors  — women and men alike  — at Equinor. To name two women who have really influenced my career:

  • Hege Marie Norheim: former Corporate Sustainability Officer. She was fierce, bold and way ahead of the curve.
  • Irene Rummelhoff: She’s an inspirational business leader who has also achieved and maintained a gender-balanced organization. 

Q: What are some trends you’re seeing in the sustainability space?

A: Two positive trends I see:

  • Ambitions are increasing, continuously. In fact, Equinor just updated our climate commitments to be more in line with the IPCC pathway. 
  • A flight to quality in the voluntary carbon market. 

One negative trend:

  • I’m not a fan of the avoidance vs. removal debate. It’s unhelpful. If you go only for removal, then you skip an important step for the climate, which is protecting our most important carbon sink.

Q: What are some challenges and opportunities sustainability teams may face?

A: Sustainability is successful when it becomes an intrinsic part of the business. The costs must no longer be externalized, but rather integrated into the bottom line. We need to make nature positive pathways an intrinsic part of business opportunities.

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