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Leilei Tong

Working at the 10th fastest growing company in Europe according to the Financial Times list, Leilei Tong, Head of Sustainability at Instabox, is on a mission to move the needle and make sustainable transport easily available to everyone.

Describe your role and what it is that you do overall and on a day-to-day basis.

I’m the Head of Sustainability at Instabox and my job is to make sure that we create truly sustainable transports in this world, as fast as possible. Today, a truly sustainable transport option doesn’t exist at scale. And I think no one has missed the fact that we are heading in the wrong direction when it comes to emissions and climate change, with the transport sector accounting for 20% of the global emissions. Hence, it’s our utmost duty to urgently change things around because we don’t have time to wait. My role is about accelerating this change, so we can make sustainable transport easily available to everyone.


What interested you about working at Instabox? What excites you most about your work?

What stands out the most about Instabox is the fact that everyone cares – about each other, about our purpose and about creating amazing delivery experiences. This was obvious even during my conversations with people at Instabox before starting, and now 1.5 years into the job it’s what makes me the most proud of working at Instabox!

The most exciting part of my job is the opportunity to truly move the needle. We used to be this small company that had one customer and a couple of lockers in Sweden. Today we are comparable to the big behemoths on our service coverage. So when we take on challenges, like removing diesel in our whole transport chain, the big players actually try to do the same. This means that our impact is not just limited to ourselves anymore – we actually help to shape the industry.


Where do you think your role/industry is going in the next 5-10 years?

Logistics is a hugely important sector because the modern society relies on the ability to transport physical goods. Pandemic times have perhaps made this even more apparent with disrupted supply chains everywhere. There’s also increasing scrutiny on the industry, because it’s highly polluting, and I hope this attention will persist because it forces everyone to do better.

There’s been a larger societal shift over the last decade on the view on sustainability work. It used to be charity, then Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and now thankfully companies are starting to put sustainability at the center of their companies. My job is about working alongside our operations team to make real-life changes at the company, from making large investments in electrical vehicles to improving the working conditions of our people. It’s not about marketing or giving money for someone else to do something good – it’s about changing how transport is done, the core of our company.


What is it about sustainability that you’d like all companies/people to consider?

To take the long-term perspective, but still act with urgency. We need to think about the long-term and invest in the right technologies that can help enable radical change, but it’s not OK to wait for other companies to bring about these innovations. We all need to do everything we can today, to have an impact now, because otherwise it will be too late.


How did your time/education at SSE help guide you to the career journey you have embarked on?

Back in my days at SSE there was frankly very little talk about sustainability, but I’m sure that has changed a lot today. SSE has given me opportunities that have helped shape my career. What I value the most today however, is the inspirational people, classmates, who dared to do what they’re passionate about, because that’s where real magic happens.


Following your time studying, do you have any words of wisdom or advice you would like to share with our current students?

Never stop learning. And while you learn, do what you think is fun, because most likely that’s what you’re good at, and so that’s how you can do the most.


What are three words that sum up your time at SSE?

Learn (always), engage (where you can have an impact), focus (on what’s important)!