INTRAPRENEUR PROFILE | Luke Davies: Financing the transition to a low carbon economy

10 Jun INTRAPRENEUR PROFILE | Luke Davies: Financing the transition to a low carbon economy

Finance Matters supports finance professionals who are putting society and the environment squarely in the heart of business as usual. We call them systemic intrapreneurs. In this series we’re sharing the stories of those who have charted a path of change within their institutions to encourage more finance professionals to play a role in making finance serve people and planet from the inside.

Meet Luke Davies, the banker who spotted an opportunity at the intersection of climate risk, a growing market and environmental sustainability. 

Name:  Luke Davies
Role: Vice President – Group CEO Office and Co-Founder Barclays Green Banking Council
Organisation: Barclays Bank
Contact: Find Luke on LinkedIn here


Can you tell us about your purpose-driven intrapreneurship project?

The development of a Green Bank within Barclays – to seek a commercial response to climate change, whilst supporting our transition to a low carbon economy. A grassroots initiative within Barclays to develop a set of Green Banking products that make commercial sense and return for society as a whole.


Where did the idea come from and how did you get started?

Our clients demanded it of us – we continue to be assessed by our clients on the basis of our own carbon footprint and the need to support their ambitions to adapt to a low carbon world. We released the down-side risk of being heavily exposed to lending in the oil & gas sector so need to adapt our credit and portfolio make-up in order to mitigate reputational, commercial and regulatory risk.


Often a big challenge for intrapreneurs is shifting something from a side-of-desk project to part of your job description. What was this like for you and what advice do you have for others? 

Barclays was supportive of this side of desk initiative as we were creating something innovative for our client base. Importantly, senior colleagues started to realise the commercial opportunity and therefore strategically aligning client need with bank purpose made my pursuit far less arduous. My advice would be to find a project which strategically aligns to the core values of your institutions, build a proposition which is profitable and align senior stakeholders to support it.


At Finance Matters, we see a difference between social innovation (making change on the side) & systemic innovation (meaningful change in the heart of BAU). More on this here. How do you see your project creating systemic change within finance?

We have completely changed how our credit and portfolio teams view the risk of climate change. Whether a business is exposed to a certain level of climate change risk is now fundamental when making lending decisions. This is systemic innovation which will lead to long-term commercial and societal benefits.


In your experience, what skills and capabilities are most important for an intrapreneur to develop?

Tenacity, belief and strategic alignment. You need to ride the wave of a specific strategic necessity for your business, have complete belief that what you propose is achievable and then have tenacity and grit to see it through. Do not give up.


Our Key Takeaways:

Thank you Luke for sharing your journey with us. Our three key takeaways from it are:

  1. Factors that help generate buy-in to an intrapreneurial venture include: linking your project to forms of risk; demonstrating customer demand and aligning your project with your organisation’s core strategic priorities.
  2. Green finance has a strong business case, so is an area where intrapreneurs can create change in the heart of business as usual, impacting how every lending and investment decision is made. Find a way for your project to create change across the board, not just in a niche pocket of the organisation.
  3. Building a sense of urgency is key to gaining internal buy-in. How can you create a burning platform to which your intrapreneurial venture is an essential solution?


Are you an intrapreneur creating positive change within finance? Join our Intrapreneur Community here or subscribe to our newsletter here.

To share your story as a purpose-driven intrapreneur in finance email