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Alumni Stories · Leadership

IMD helped me to crystalize my purpose

Interview with Milena Amaral, IMD EMBA graduate (2014) and fashion industry entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of Neovili
October 2019

EMBA graduate Milena Amaral is working to improve the transparency, environmental and social responsibility of the fashion industry through her start-up Neovili, a platform for measuring, optimizing and helping to reduce the fashion industry’s footprint. IMD recently caught up with Milena to talk about her work.

What is Neovili?

The Neovili platform offers an environment where brands and retailers can both calculate and immediately act to mitigate their environmental footprint and social impact. The calculation is done with the Life Cycle Assessment method and delivered with data visualisation to facilitate the interpretation for non-experts. Curated initiatives are proposed for the brands that aim to reduce and / or compensate their footprint. Blockchain technology ensures the transparent tracking of these investments. In sum, Neovili helps the fashion and luxury Industry to measure and mitigate their climate impact while enabling them to integrate their sustainability information into their key performance indicators and impact framework.

What inspired you to take this path?

In my last position when working in a fast fashion retailer in Brazil, I realized that we cannot improve if we cannot concretely measure the total impact generated by the billions of pieces that are reaching the market each week. Researching the tools and methodologies available, we identified that the Circular Economy framework and the Life Cycle Assessment methodology are important basics and already a reality in other industries such as automobiles, energy and food. We thought that we could accelerate our curve, learning from the success practices in other industries and we decided to build the case for the fashion industry.

How did your IMD EMBA influence you?

When pursuing the IMD EMBA, we had the privilege to analyze successful business practices through the International Consulting Projects, start-up collaborations and market expeditions and these initiatives helped me to understand that new business models are needed to thrive in the VUCA world.

And on a deeper level, the leadership stream experience was capital to crystalize my purpose and vision for the next 10 years. During this stream, I had the occasion to assess my beliefs, values and behaviors when in different dynamics and the structured process helped me to formalize my mission. The whole journey has been thought-provoking, intense and concrete. It represented a crucible for me as an individual.

What influence do you want to have in your industry?

I believe that I must help my industry to evolve with new standards in terms of value creation and capturing for our society. Our industry needs to catch up with the “sustainable revolution” and must be accountable and progressive, going beyond zero impact. I believe that triple-bottom-line reporting will be the norm in a few years and with our start-up, we would like to contribute to this transformation.

How does the alumni network help?

I have a strong affection for IMD because it’s the place where you can meet like-minded people. The alumni network is composed of powerful and diverse leaders with a rich blend of soft and hard skills. It is special because it stimulates meaningful reflection, inspiration and interesting discussions.

What’s next?

We are seed fundraising and creating an exciting research partnership to concretize the architecture, dataset and prototype. Watch this space!