Remembering Nicky Chambers

nicky chambers

Memories of Nicky Chambers (1966 – 2024)

Nicky Chambers was co-founder of Best Foot Forward, the very first, very early acquisition by Anthesis in 2013. When I joined as an intern in 2011, she would appear mid-afternoon in The Future Centre office in NewTech Place, Oxford, eyes bright and cheeks flushed from a cycle ride and debating [insert complex social issue/latest carbon technology/role of regenerative agriculture] with [insert local politician/university professor/Chief Sustainability Officer]. By the time she left again, wisdom would have been sprinkled over us and spirits would have been lifted. Her mantra, “what does good look like?” would ring out across the open-plan, vine-filled, Interface-floored space, followed by the whirr of our brains trying to keep pace with her ideas.

Best Foot Forward was born in 1996 from a strong desire to provide scientific based evidence to businesses wishing to make sustainability centric decisions. While there, Nicky co-authored – with Craig Simmons and Mathis Wackernagel -, Sharing Nature’s Interest – a pioneering book on ecological foot printing that introduced the concept to Europe and paved the way for carbon foot printing. This metric converts the impact of a place, activity, organization or individual into a physical number representing standardized hectares of land. In 2006, Best Foot Forward was conferred a prestigious Queens’ Award – a corporate knighthood – for their pioneering work. Nicky as helped, in 1999, to bring to market the first carbon calculator – CarbonCalc – to make use of newly published Government emission factors. Later, in 2011, she co-founded Foot printer, one of the first organizational and product foot printing software tools.

After Best Foot Forward was integrated into the then start-up Anthesis, Nicky stayed on as Director of Strategic Innovations and Futures or in her own words ‘Queen of All Things New and Shiny’. This, naturally, led her to a plethora of exciting opportunities outside our walls and she continued being a change-maker in other organisations such as Global Canopy and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, to name a couple.

It is hard (impossible) to encapsulate a person, a personality, a soul, in a matter of words on a screen. Nicky’s special talent was the ability to grab attention: in board rooms her opinions were always heard, her outrageous stories captivated us in the pub, and her students would soak up her teachings. Her intelligence would shine on the knottiest of environmental challenges and before you knew it you were in the MAD (Make A Difference) conference room downstairs with the whiteboard out, several cups of tea down and a plan to change the world. It felt like magic.

Below are some of our fondest memories and thoughts of Nicky during her time at Best Foot Forward and Anthesis:

From a personal angle, Nicky was my mentor and role model in those early years of my career and pushed me, kindly but firmly, to show up and step up. She was behind the idea that I spend a year in the US; I am still here and thriving, seven years later. I will always be immensely grateful to Nicky for her spirited guidance and female leadership. I will always remember her tenacity, fearlessness, and wicked sense of humour. Thank you, Nicky; you are, and will be, missed.

Honor Cowen

She still had so much to give and, although our paths diverged in 2013 as we pursued our own interests, I kept a keen eye on her career and managed to meet up with her a couple of times over the last decade. Her energy, drive and commitment to sustainability will be sorely missed.”

Craig Simmons

Nicky was an amazing individual who, alongside Craig, trail-blazed the footprinting movement.  Whilst a fantastically talented sustainability professional, she wasn’t shy of (literally) rolling up her sleeves.”

Brad Blundell

Without Nicky’s support working with Craig and Chris then Anthesis may not have happened – certainly not in the way it has. She played a foundational role in this business and has impacted my life and so many others through her inspiration and energy. As one of the inspiring early leaders in the movement I consider it a privilege to have worked with her”

Stuart McLachlan

“She was a great inspiration to me too on the importance of living within nature and on how to get greater traction with organisations on sustainability. She leaves quite a legacy.”

Chris Stanley

“Like so many of us, Nicky influenced both my career and life journeys, without her I wouldn’t have been where I am today either.”

Debbie Hitchen

“While I only worked with Nicky briefly, her desire to leave the world a better place was clear-eyed and inspirational. It speaks to Nicky’s devotion that towards the end of her life, she was focussed on sharing her wisdom and knowledge with others; I know she leaves a great legacy both within Anthesis, and her larger community.”

Emily Bartlett