Tony Lee Luen Len: Innovating for a Sustainable Tomorrow and Championing Social Impact

Tony Lee Luen Len | a Senior Partner at Ecosis
Tony Lee Luen Len | a Senior Partner at Ecosis

Tony Lee Luen Len, a Senior Partner at Ecosis, stands out as a beacon of change. He is creating a future where smart and sustainable development is at the heart of every endeavor and social impact is a driving force.

Ecosis, founded in 2006, has a grand mission—to co-create a sustainable and joyful world by ingeniously managing sustainable solutions and strategies from concept to completion. At its core, Ecosis excels in project consulting and management, with a strong emphasis on intelligent, sustainable solutions.

But let’s shift our focus to the visionary behind the scenes—Tony Lee Luen Len. With a skill set that encompasses Team Leadership, Presentations, Conflict Management, and a Logical Approach, Tony is the driving force behind Ecosis’ success.

He’s not just a sustainability consultant—he’s an expert in smart and sustainable development, a partnership broker, a social impact strategist, and a champion of technology for good. Tony is the embodiment of a multifaceted approach to sustainability.

Passion fuels Tony and the Ecosis team, propelling them toward creating a positive change for a sustainable future. They are committed to helping clients navigate the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development, serving as enablers for organizations striving to make a difference in the economy, the environment and society.

Let’s explore a world that hungers for sustainable solutions where Tony and Ecosis are leading the charge, making the dream of a smarter, more sustainable future a reality!

Brief us about your career path as a leader until your current position. What were the challenges that you had to overcome to scale your progress? 

My journey through life has been shaped by my humble beginnings. I was born in a rural area of Mauritius, where my Chinese immigrant grandparents ran a small shop. We lived behind the store and the intertwining of work and family life was a constant presence.

As a shy child, finding my place in school was a challenge, however, the recognition I received from a dedicated teacher, who adorned my schoolbooks with stars for correctly completed exercises, provided a reassuring sense of accomplishment. Doing well in school was my path to being seen, echoing the wise words of my grandmother, who encouraged me to learn so that one day I could have a home of my own.

My first taste of leadership came in high school when older students selected me to join the Student Representative Council (SRC). Despite being the youngest member, I felt a sense of importance in this role. This experience paved the way for my future leadership roles.

At university, I was elected chairperson of the SRC for the Faculty of Fine Arts and Architecture. It was during this time, in South Africa amid the tumultuous era of apartheid, that I realized the depth of political engagement within the SRC.

My career journey officially began in project management, where I oversaw the relocation of blue-chip companies and managed building projects. Afterwards, I ventured into consultancy and collaborated with pioneering green architect Etienne Bruwer.

At the age of 28, I was recruited as the General Manager of an Aluminum and Glass company, which would later become one of South Africa’s largest firms. Leading a team of 70 employees, including senior colleagues with more experience, was a challenging but rewarding experience. Through hard work and dedication, I earned their respect and contributed to tripling the company’s size before leaving at 33 due to a near-fatal car accident that miraculously spared my life.

In 2005, my life took a pivotal turn as I returned home to heal from the accident, which left me with a severely impaired voice. During this time, I explored my passion for sustainability and founded my consultancy firm, Ecosis. My commitment to climate action led me to co-found the Climate Change Action Forum and establish the Green Building Council of Mauritius after attending the Greenbuild conference in Boston in 2008.

As a member of the World Green Building Council and the broader sustainability community, I realized the power of advocacy and the impact I could have. My expertise expanded to encompass green buildings, energy efficiency, smart cities, technology, and innovation. I engaged in strategic and policy work for various organizations, including governments, UN agencies, development institutions, corporations, and nonprofits.

In 2013, I recognized the importance of collaboration to effect meaningful change. I joined the Partnership Brokers Association, delving into the field of multi-sector organizations and advocating for effective stakeholder engagement and partnerships.

Today, I serve on numerous committees for my government, private sector coordination bodies and international organizations. My commitment to driving sustainable change remains unwavering as I continue to attend and speak at conferences and public events.

Tell us more about your company and its mission and vision. 

I run a few initiatives. The main one is Ecosis—founded in 2006—a sustainability and social impact consultancy. Our mission is to co-create a sustainable and happy world by developing and managing sustainable solutions and strategies smartly from beginning till completion.

I guess the action part will need to be updated, as we are doing more than that. The other one that is taking my time and focus is our philanthropic initiative, “anAngel.” It is a gamified free marketplace for good deeds. Our mission is to harness the power of the community to help achieve the SDGs.

What methodologies do you implement that contribute to new growth opportunities?

Upholding our company values of professionalism, quality, service to others, lifelong learning, and collaboration has served us well. Also, we have been advocating for the green, triple bottom line of profit, people and the planet since we set up our company in 2006. Today, when green is mainstream and ESG is ubiquitous—people remember us! Finally.

We do not sleep on our laurels—we constantly keep abreast of development in our fields of expertise. We often attend conferences, workshops and courses. For instance, I am still at university doing research as a Bertha Centre for Social Innovation scholar.

Please share your learning of the Sustainability world.

In the Sustainability world, it is very buoyant. As mentioned above, all is now mainstream. To me, it seems mainstream. We see articles in daily newspapers. And everyone seems to be interested all of a sudden. Perhaps not for the right reasons, but at least more people are interested in the World’s problems and SDGs.

However, as per speeches from the UN General Assembly 2023, we are off track from achieving the sustainable development goals by 2030. We are equally not on target to keep our mother earth’s temperature below 2 Degrees by the end of the century. I think we have significant challenges ahead. And this is going to affect each and every person on earth.

Attending climate conferences, for instance, it feels like déjà-vu or the speeches sound like broken records. It is not the President’s or the UN secretary general’s fault, as I myself often sound like a broken record in my addresses.

For our World to transition, hash-tagged #thejusttransition, systems need to change and shift. We must all understand and accept that any transitions take time. However, we should not do the same thing and expect different results. Einstein coined this as insane.

Unfortunately, I see a lot of insanity, but small pockets of ingenuity and innovation are happening. We need to shed more light on these and scale the same.

Sustainability has also become a big business, which accentuates the political plays. It renders the sustainability world very complex. I can just hope for the best and do my bit. I only hope that I will prove many people wrong and that my efforts will not be in vain.

What strategies do you implement to promote gender diversity for various leadership positions at your company? 

We have a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policy at our company. We apply the same when we recruit and in all our dealings within our company. Currently, we stand at 80:20 in the proportion of females to males.

What values do you incorporate to enhance the work culture of your company?

As mentioned above, our company values are professionalism, quality, service to others, lifelong learning, and collaboration. We have a rigorous screening process where we communicate our values and the additional personal values that we want our candidates to have—they are authenticity, responsibility, loyalty and trustworthiness.

What, according to you, could be the next significant change in your sector? How are you preparing for the change? 

The next significant change in our sector is what we are experiencing now. As sustainability has become mainstream, there is firstly a need for more human resources. Secondly, companies want to have the expertise in-house. As a smaller boutique consultancy, it puts pressure on us. Companies eye our personnel.

For this, we do as we have always done. Through our work culture and growth potential, most of our personnel remain loyal. We also see that the type of services consultancies provide change as past clients integrate expertise in-house. We, therefore, keep developing different offerings. It makes the journey more creative.

Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run and what are your future goals for your company?

Personally, I envision myself to continue doing the advocacy work and taking a back seat on the consultancy side, where partners will continue running the company. I never had ambitious goals for our company. I never wanted to be a big consulting firm. We have built a respected and reputed firm. I will let the younger generation decide on its future goals. My medium-term goal is to continue to nurture, mentor and empower the younger generation.

What advice would you give to the next generation of Sustainability leaders willing to venture into the modern business arena? 

My advice to the next generation of sustainability leaders willing to venture into the modern business arena is to do it for the right reason or purpose. Having purpose as the north star will get them through difficult times, as competition becomes fiercer. Secondly, always push your clients to do better. This is the only way to shift the system quicker and achieve the #justtransition.