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Ann Sherry - Reflections on Positive Impact

Ann Sherry (Order of Australia, Executive Chairman of Carnival Australia, and Palladium board member) discusses the experience of Carnival Cruises in seeing Positive Impact as an essential driver of long term growth.

The Palladium Summit 2017 brought together nearly 250 delegates to explore the huge potential for Positive Impact – the intentional creation of enduring social and economic value.

What is Positive Impact?

Ann Sherry: Positive Impact for me, is the output measure of the way your business can operate.

It doesn’t matter what sort of business you’re in, there is a way of creating Positive Impact. Both for, obviously, your shareholder and your employees, but in fact the communities that you touch and serve.

I think the quote early on from Abraham Lincoln – “to the people, for the people, by the people” – increasingly is a mantra that business has to think about. It’s not just the narrow stakeholders we’ve been traditionally thinking about. It’s about, really, the impact you can measure more broadly.

Tell us more about your experience with Positive Impact at Carnival.

AS: We’ve [Carnival Cruises] come to this really after 10 years of practice without having a name for it. For us it was just about strategy and how do we grow the business. They were our questions.

Positive Impact was part of the strategic answer to “how do we grow the business?”, because we wanted people to want us to come. And if that [Positive Impact] is the answer to your question, then you have to find mechanisms to make that happen.

If people want you, then there’s got to be something in it for them. The tangibility of Shared Value for us, was really the answer to our core strategic question: “how do you get growth?”

And I think now that there’s a lot more academic rigour around it, it’s got a frame of reference, I think for many companies Positive Impact is: How do you grow your business? How do you do it in a sustainable way? And how do you do it in a way that makes your customers also want to keep doing business with you in a very crowded and changing world?
I think all businesses need to be thinking like that.

What have you enjoyed most about the Summit?

AS: An event like this is important because it brings together lots of the different players. It brings together government, private sectors operators, NGOs, to be in the room, asking the questions, hearing the same thing, and distilling what they need out of it and being able to talk to each other.

If you had one message to businesses trying to achieve Positive Impact, what would it be?

AS: I would say to an organisation that’s not there yet, “are you asking yourselves the right questions?” Because if your strategy hasn’t caused you to ask the question – “how do I create more Positive Impact from my business?” – then you’re probably missing a core piece of your overall long term business agenda.

My question would be perhaps, “are you asking yourself the right questions?”

For more highlights from the Palladium Summit 2017, visit our Research & Impact page or contact