Thirteen years ago, Meg Argyriou was just the second person to be employed at what was then a brand-new organisation known as ClimateWorks Australia.
Meg started as a project manager, just months after The Myer Foundation and Monash University united to form an organisation that would bridge the gap between science and action to decarbonise our economy.
The office in earliest days was a cramped corner within an already crowded Monash Sustainability Institute (now Monash Sustainable Development Institute) at the university’s Clayton campus – a space which Climateworks quickly outgrew.
‘We “hot-desked” a lot in the early days,’ Meg recalled of those humble beginnings.
‘At times, all four of us sat cramped around a single desk loaned to us by the Myer family!
‘One of the first major projects I led was the Low Carbon Growth Plan for Greater Geelong, followed quickly by a Low Carbon Growth Plan for Gippsland – two of Victoria’s most emissions intensive regions.
‘In both projects, we worked hard to build strong relationships with the full breadth of key stakeholders – from local and state governments to heavy emitting industries, to local green groups – in order to build buy-in and support for the plans.’
As Climateworks’ reputation for expertise in modelling decarbonisation pathways grew, so too did Meg’s role.
She eventually became head of engagement, applying her diverse communications qualifications to build a team that would drive communication across a spectrum of external stakeholders and strengthen the organisation’s approach to strategic stakeholder engagement.
Then, in response to a growing regional opportunity for Climateworks expertise, Meg led the organisation’s expansion into Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
‘An entrepreneurial spirit’
CEO Anna Skarbek extended her great appreciation for Meg’s contribution and influence.
‘Meg joined Climateworks in its very first year, and for over a decade applied her skills and passions to help Climateworks deliver, engage and grow,’ Anna said.
‘She brought an entrepreneurial spirit and strong commitment to sustainable development, and has been a significant member of the leadership team, holding numerous roles that shaped the organisation and its influence over that time.
‘These included Head of Engagement, Head of International Programs and Head of International & Country Context. She has represented Climateworks at numerous global COPs (UNFCCC Conferences of the Parties), and built great teams.
‘Meg leaves a lasting legacy having led our expansion into Southeast Asia and established our Indonesian team which now comprises six talented staff in Jakarta and respected Indonesian board member, Filda Yusgiantoro.
‘I share Meg’s pride in the results of her energy and efforts at Climateworks and wish her the best for her long service leave and next career chapter.’
Meg, too, cites the establishment of Climateworks’ international footprint and focus as her proudest achievement by far.
‘We’ve attracted some of the smartest minds working at the intersection of climate change and development, in a region that will make or break global climate efforts to stabilise temperatures at 1.5 degrees,’ Meg said.
‘Although the team is small, they are punching significantly above their weight, through building trusted relationships of influence at the highest levels of government, and with those who support ambitious climate action across the region.’
As the Indonesian Country Lead, Guntur Sutiyono agreed.
‘Meg built the International team including what became a team in Indonesia,’ Guntur said.
‘Her work has helped make us a truly international organisation, enabling us to support climate ambition in Australia’s most important geopolitical regions.’
The team acknowledges this success has been due to Climateworks’ respectful approach.
‘We’ve remained focused on empowering ‘in-country’ expertise, having learned that our most effective role is to provide the support, connections and resources to enable jurisdictions to lead their own net zero transformation,’ Meg noted.
‘The deep understanding of the context and levers for change that comes from localised expertise will always be far more effective and lasting than imposing wisdoms from other jurisdictions.’
While the net zero task remains significant, the momentum we see today reassures Meg she is leaving at the right time.
And while she looks forward to initially taking some well earned time out to spend with her growing kids, Meg remains committed to a future where her children – all children – will enjoy a safe climate.
A recruitment process has now commenced via agency NGO Recruitment.