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Shared Value Champion: Darrell Wade, Intrepid Group

June 6, 2018

This month’s Shared Value Champion is Darrell Wade, the co-founder and executive chair of The Intrepid Group, which has become the global leader in delivering sustainable experience-rich travel.

What does shared value mean to you?

Shared value is just a modern way of ensuring that all stakeholders are aligned, and everyone comes out a winner!

What led you individually to the shared value concept? How did you come across it?

To be honest, we’ve been practicing shared value for over 20 years, we just didn’t have a name for it back then! From the very early days we recognised that if we were going to succeed as a business, then we needed to ensure that travellers had the best time possible, but also that the local communities we travelled through also benefitted from what we were doing. Why? Because Intrepid’s form of tourism aims to build genuine understanding between travellers and the locals and this was only sustainable if we become long term partners to those communities so they trusted us and benefited with us as our business grew.

What does shared value success look like at the Intrepid Foundation and where are you at on the journey?

The Intrepid Foundation has many stakeholders, and it’s the nexus between these stakeholders where value is generated. There are the local community projects we fund which are largely in developing countries. There are our travellers who engage with many of those communities, and fund a decent chunk of the work we do. And finally there is the Intrepid business including our staff and shareholders – without whose support we would lack funding and staff resources to do what we do. So the Foundation itself needs to ensure that each of these stakeholders get what they want out of the relationship so they contine to work with us on mutually rewarding projects. Together we get a far better result than any of us could in isolation. In many ways we are still quite early on the journey though – it takes time for all stakeholders to genuinely understand the interdependence they have, and I don’t think we’ve spent the time communicating the process and benefits as well as we could have.

What is your role individually within the Intrepid Foundation to support the company along its shared value journey?

I’m a director of the Intrepid Foundation and a shareholder of the Intrepid Group, so I see my role as being an advocate for the mutual dependency inherent in shared value. Ultimately though, I’m a passionate advocate for travel. As travellers we experience wonderful things, get to understand different cultures and are incredibly privileged in the general sense. With that privilege comes responsibility – to understand difference, to share benefits and to preserve what it is we are enjoying. So in a business context we take this philosophy into our supply chains, into our Foundation and out to our customers to ensure that the benefits and value created by travel is shared. Do this well and the act of travel becomes sustainable.

How has practicing shared value helped you individually in your role or career more generally?

I think it’s made me question the underlying motivation of different stakeholders which has resulted in a more genuine understanding of where they are coming from. Whilst it’s always dangerous to generalise, the reality is that an NGO, a government department, a business or even a customer will think differently from each other, and have very different needs. Until you start to understand those needs there is an inherent conflict through ignorance. But once understanding is reached, there’s a beautiful alignment created which generates real value for all.

What do you think are some pertinent issues in Australia that could be solved through creating shared value?

There is a significant misallocation of resources in Australia that happens because people don’t take the time or have the conversations to understand where value is created. Take the whole climate change debate that has paralysed Australian politics, community and business for 10 years. If all stakeholders had taken a little time to understand where value is delivered to society, get familiar with the science, and then properly allocate costs (including externailities), the solutions to the debate would drop out quite quickly. Like it did in the UK. Education, health, transport and urban planning could have similar discussions, results and benefits.