Interview: Johannes Schwegler to leave Management Team

4. October 2022|In News
Johannes Schwegler, Megan King and Wolfgang Baum

Big changes are coming up at Fairventures Worldwide: After more than 9 years as Executive Director, our founder Johannes Schwegler is leaving the management at the end of this month to fully dedicate himself to lead our sister company Fairventures Digital (TREEO)

Going forward, Megan King and Wolfgang Baum will manage Fairventures Worldwide. We are immensely grateful for all that Johannes has brought to the organization over the years and wish him much success in his new role. As member of the Fairventures Worldwide Shareholder Comitee, he will of course remain strongly connected to Fairventures Worldwide. 

Learn more about the upcoming changes in the interview with Johannes, Wolfgang and Megan.

Interview with Johannes, Megan and Wolfgang

Johannes, after more than nine years as the Executive Director of Fairventures Worldwide, you are leaving the Management Team in October. Let us take a look back: What motivated you to found Fairventures in the first place? 

Johannes Schwegler: When I was young, I spent eight years living in Indonesia. In Borneo, I experienced the destruction of the rainforest first-hand. That’s when I saw the potential of tree planting as an opportunity to create extra income for the local people. Later, I also realized that trees can serve as a nature-based solution in the fight against climate change.

When you started out, did you ever imagine Fairventures growing this big?

JS: I didn’t. In the beginning, I just thought, “Let’s start and see if we find a way to help.” I was not at all expecting this to grow into an organization like the one we have right now. It’s been a learning process over the last years, and we are still learning up to this day. The forest cycle is not just 3-4 years, it’s at least 10 years!

Megan, Wolfgang, what can you learn from Johannes in terms of leadership of this organization?

Megan King: I think Johannes’ biggest strength is his vision – looking ten years into the future, imagining how this organization could look like, and then striving for that.

Wolfgang Baum: Approaching things with a healthy dose of pragmatism. Don’t start with a preconceived notion of what something is, but instead really look at how things are and build your solution around that.

Johannes and Wolfgang in the nursery
Johannes and Wolfgang in the nursery

What do you want to contribute to steer Fairventures into the future successfully?

WB: Fairventures Worldwide is my career. It has been my place of work ever since I graduated from university. I’ve seen almost every department and a lot of the aspects of our work throughout the years and I now hope that I can use all my experience to lead this organization in a way that puts everyone in a position to be successful.

MK: I bring the flip side to Wolfgang’s answer. This is not my first job. I have worked for many years in international development cooperation. I have had the opportunity to look at different issues on a local and global level from many different angles, and I hope to contribute these perspectives to drive Fairventures in the future.

Johannes, how does it feel to hand over your role as Executive Director after 9 years?

JS: Honestly, it feels great. It takes a bit to let it go, but it is the right timing. 

What do you like most about your successors Megan and Wolfgang?

JS: It’s great to know that both of the new CEOs bring a very high motivation of making this a success. They have a lot of experience and a people-centric focus. Our work is all about the people! 

What does it mean to both of you to work in a team?

WB: With the growing complexity of our organization, it’s such a blessing to be in a position to share the responsibility. Megan and I have different backgrounds, different strengths and different personalities. Together, we are able to do this better than either of us could do by ourselves. We can be more present in the countries, we can attend to many more matters, and we can also push ourselves. 

MK: The structure of leading the organization in a team doubles the brain and cultural understanding power of the people who sit in the CEO chair. It gives us two completely different sets of skills for problem-solving and for creating a vision forward. That has been really helpful in the last few months, and I can see how it will help us grow and meet the challenges tomorrow. 

Johannes, you now want to fully concentrate on your new role as Executive Director of TREEO | Fairventures Digital. What are your plans?

JS: Basically, we are working in the same field as FVW, but in a different context. We really want to provide a solution for companies to go for negative emissions and combine their climate goals with their social goals and biodiversity goals. At TREEO we do this by offering high-quality carbon removals. On this path, we want to aggregate smallholder farmers with digital tools and grow and scale to maximize our impact.

Panduh and Johannes in front of a 3 year old Sengon tree
Panduh and Johannes in front of a 3 year old Sengon tree

Megan, Wolfgang, what are your expectations for Fairventures? Where will the journey go next?

MK: As Johannes said, forests don’t grow in 3 years; they grow in 10-20 in the tropics. We are just now reaching a point where we can really start to analyze our work in terms of data-driven input and data-driving reporting. I want to focus on the analysis of what our first harvests can teach us. 

The next step of growth for the organization is going for scale. If we are going to make a continued impact, we have to be able to scale and to grow geographically, while maintaining an emphasis on quality implementation. The key for that is analysis. For the first time, we can harvest from the forest and really start to look at the numbers that will help us make the plans for the future.

WB: Well, I think FVW is now established in Uganda and Indonesia. We have a model that works and that is adaptable to different country contexts. Our next step is to look where else our approach might fit and see if we can extend our activities to other countries, but also grow further within the countries to really deepen the impact that we are generating today.

JS: I think it is about providing a solution to the biggest problem we have at the moment: Climate Change. We have a nature based people-centric approach. We learn and try and learn and try – it’s a back and forth to find the best solution that benefits the environment and the people living there. 

WB: I agree 100%. Thank you, Johannes, for 9 years of dedication to Fairventures Worldwide.

MK: And all the best for the next steps at TREEO.JS: Thank you very much, I wish you all the best!