By conference convener, Stephanie Mines
Long before it was considered fashionable, George Goudsmit sought both extrinsic and intrinsic value from his acute business acumen. With a sharpened appreciation for innovative thinking, he balanced fiscal success with ethical products and principled professional procedures. His intense interest in new technologies and fair business tactics have created a dynamic work environment, one that encourages the evolution of knowledge; an environment for change and betterment.
George stepped up to be one of the first corporate sponsors of Climate Change & Consciousness: Our Legacy for the Earth. It is easy to see the reason why; he was one of the first wave of business people to understand that there is dire need for ethical entrepreneurship in a world that’s been victim to destructive capitalism. Climate change CAN be reversed, and it can be done with economic benefits for those who are willing to learn and adapt.
George grew up in Holland, eventually making his way to London in his late teens. It was here that he could better focus on working his way upward in a professional environment, eventually running his own telecommunications business. Though he and his company were achieving amazing gains throughout his run, there was a sense of being able to do more. He chose to move to northern Scotland, where he would re-start and re-build; a decision that would change his life.
In 1989, George Goudsmit took over Weatherwise, a fledgling Scottish solar thermal company trying to build a foothold in the alternative energy sector. Solar energy was, at this time, considered expensive and ineffectual, especially under Scottish skies. George, nonetheless, saw economic potential. He also saw a future where the renewables sector would be integral to fighting what was then referred to as “global warming”. Along with his friends at the Findhorn Foundation and Community, a long-standing collective of socially responsible residents, George was able to create a market for his niche product. And he recognised too, that his business success hinged upon innovative change to keep up with changing customers’ perceptions of renewables.
The company re-named themselves AES Solar in 1998 and at this point started a significant growth spurt, one that is still going on today. During the initial growth stage, the increasing benefits of solar technologies were being more widely accepted. Some of those hearing the call were very prestigious clients such as the Scottish Parliament and British Royalty; AES solar products were installed at both Holyrood and on estate buildings at Balmoral Castle. George also began hiring renewable engineers, those who could develop new technologies for future energy needs and that mirrored his own sense of moral obligation to do best by others and by the planet.
And that is the crux of George’s success. He is, indeed, a conscionable entrepreneur, but he has made an even more concerted effort to surround himself with others who share his beliefs. From engineers, to administrative staff, to manufacturers, to the installers, all agree: Planet Earth is also our customer, and we strive for customer service excellence.
The Findhorn community is blessed to have George Goudsmit within its family; it truly benefits from his vision. He has paved an ethical pathway to economic success in a world that is quickly shedding its climatic norms. He is an ideal ambassador for the renewable energy sector. May he inspire other imaginative investors in renewables to prepare for imminent climate change by supporting CCC19.