In Conversation with Sara Parrott, Suncorp Australia

Please describe your role and responsibilities, how many years you have been in the company?
I’ve been at Suncorp for almost four years with about three years as Head of Suncorp Group’s corporate responsibility function, leading the development of sustainability and corporate responsibility strategy group-wide.

What was your background previously and where did your interest in community begin?
I started my career in marketing and have done almost every job along the spectrum of marketing, communications, and stakeholder relations over the years! I have changed industries a number of times too, having worked in international aid, community services, mining, professional services, banking and now insurance.  What I’ve learned is that to succeed and grow, all organisations need their community and stakeholders – the difference is how well organisations understand that and how committed they are to working together with their community.

How has your community investment program evolved at your company?
Suncorp has always had a strong connection to our local communities, especially throughout regional Queensland. Our community investment has been re-shaped into two programs. The corporate partnerships program is focused on the two most material social and environmental issues we face with our community, which we have identified as: financial inclusion which is all about people’s social and economic participation; and climate change, especially our communities’ resilience to increasingly severe natural hazards. Our employee engagement program is focused on the issues that are important to our people and supporting them to give, volunteer and raise funds in their local community.

What are the challenges you encounter in driving the sustainability agenda and how do you stay inspired?
Suncorp people inspire me every day. There are so many caring, customer-focused people in our organisation who want to make a difference for our customers and for our community. As an insurance company, almost every customer interaction is an opportunity to make a difference for someone – who may have had an accident, lost a loved one or are just thinking about how to best protect the things that are important to them.  And my family inspire me to make a difference for the issues that will matter in the future, like climate change.

What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?
The big pieces of work like bringing in new policies to an organisation don’t make as much difference as the little things that capture people’s hearts and change people’s minds.

What is your motto in life?
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
~Dr Seuss