Hermione's platform for change
Biology graduate Hermione Taylor is the co-founder of Do Nation, an online platform that allows users to make personal pledges that could help make a difference in the world. We spoke to her about her journey to success, discovering her sporty side, and the advice she would give current students.
Q: Hermione, how did you come to set up Do Nation?
I studied Evolutionary Biology at Edinburgh, and after graduation I hopped between jobs. I did everything from weighing dung to schmoozing with government ministers; and from driving buses to organising ski touring adventures! But when I came up with the idea to create Do Nation (along with my co-founder, Martin) in 2010, I knew I had found a career I would love.
Do Nation is all about encouraging sustainable living. Martin and I are big believers in the power of individual actions to make a big difference, and we're on a mission to help others experience this first hand.
Q: How does the Do Nation platform work?
We’ve built an online platform where anyone can either make a pledge or run a campaign to raise pledges – pledges to do simple things like cycling to work, wasting less food, or using reusable coffee cups. People run campaigns on Do Nation for many reasons – such as raising pledges in support of marathons or as an alternative to wedding gift lists, but the most common use is organisations running campaigns to engage employees, clients and members in sustainability. They can also use powerful team competitions to see which groups can make the most pledges and save the most carbon.
Q: The platform seems very relevant today - did it catch on quickly?
It’s not been an easy journey, in fact I was on the verge of shutting it down a year ago. But since then, largely thanks to the massive rise in awareness of plastic pollution and climate action, we’ve seen growing interest from a great range of organisations – with clients like Pret a Manger, Siemens, Network Rail, and, of course, the University of Edinburgh coming on board, all using Do Nation to engage their audiences in these simple behavioural changes. This has completely changed the game for us.
Q: What are your memories of being a student at Edinburgh?
As a country girl, Edinburgh’s amazing outdoor spaces, ever visible above the city scape, were a huge draw to me. Arthur’s Seat came to my rescue many times when my head needed clearing - whether from the effects of the Liquid Rooms or Biometrics 101.
At school I’d never been one of the sporty ones, but Edinburgh pulled that side out of me - some of my greatest memories are of walks around Arthur’s Seat, morning detours to Pease Bay for a pre-lecture surf, or weekends playing in the snow in the Highlands with the Ski Club. And, of course, throwing shapes at Mother Funk and the Liquid Rooms!
Q: And do you have any advice for our current students?
When looking for a job, think about the impact you want to create with your career – and ask potential employers about this. What are their companies goals and policies around social impact? How could you get involved in that? Not only will this help you find a fulfilling career, but it’s also the best way to put pressure on businesses to keep doing the right thing. Sustainability is something all employees should be involved in.
Do Nation and alumni
The University is using Hermione's Do Nation platform to encourage alumni across the world to make a Planetary Health commitment. This is an opportunity to contribute to the efforts of our world-leading research by helping us to improve the world.