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Homepage / “My sustainability studies gave me the confidence to take on Amazon”

“My sustainability studies gave me the confidence to take on Amazon”


Not everyone would have the confidence to challenge a big global power like Amazon but, for Colin Featherstone, Senior Technology Manager and Tech Sustainability Lead at Morrisons, his Cranfield studies equipped him with the knowledge and conviction to do just that.

Colin was studying for Cranfield’s Sustainability Business Specialist Apprenticeship, a part-time Level 7 apprenticeship designed in consultation with industry that aims to deepen participants’ knowledge of the theory and practice of organisational sustainability and help them build the personal competencies needed to lead and manage change towards improved sustainability performance.

Starting out on the course as an IT professional without any prior knowledge or experience of sustainability required a fundamental shift in thinking – for him and the business.

He explained: “I went to a conference on device strategy and there was a presentation about sustainability of technology that really got me thinking.

“I’d been looking at doing some sort of further education but probably in something technical like cloud management or network design and security. Finding myself undertaking a sustainability apprenticeship where the first module started talking about soil and agriculture was a bit of a shock to the system.

“But I quickly became comfortable enough with what we were learning to kick off a technology workshop at work where we discussed topics like energy management, and reuse and recycling.”

Colin found his colleagues were more open to change than he had first thought.

“We talked about switching to low power options and even looked at little things like repairing broken mobile phone screens instead of sending them off for disposal,” he said. “I’d realised that we didn’t score any of our procurement tenders on sustainability, so we also looked at how we could bring that into the decision-making process.”

Colin and his team went on to hold a similar workshop with their suppliers.

“The response was phenomenal,” he remembers. “There were a lot of genuine people wanting to help us on this journey.”

Fast-forward and Colin has now established a working group of 60 employees and 22 supplier representatives that is leading sustainability initiatives in technology within Morrisons, and is currently in the process of challenging global giant Amazon Web Services for credible evidence to back up the carbon reduction statistics it says have been achieved by the supermarket switching to its latest low-power processor.

“I would never have had the confidence to challenge a big company like Amazon before doing the apprenticeship,” he said.

The Sustainability Business Specialist Apprenticeship incorporates a Sustainability MSc and equips participants with professional recognitions as a Registered Environmental Practitioner and either Practitioner Member of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) or Chartered Environmentalist depending on their level of experience prior to attending the course. Participation may be part-funded by eligible employers’ apprenticeship levy payments.

The course is primarily delivered online, with participants coming together annually for a three-day residential at Cranfield where they also get the chance to hear from previous and current students about their successes at work.

To find out more about the Sustainability Business Specialist Apprenticeship (with Sustainability MSc) at Cranfield University, you can book a one-to-one meeting with a member of our team here or reach out via email.

Cranfield School of Management

Written By: Hayley Rook

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