Leaders in waste: Matt Genever – The pragmatic idealist

By Adam Johnson, MRA Consulting Group

Leaders in Waste series

The Leaders in Waste series was born out of an article I wrote on LinkedIn. I wrote of the difference between seeing the world through the lens of a Great Leader vs the need for many genuinely good leaders. The Great Leader is disempowering, untouchable, seemingly a gift from Heaven (or Hell). The good leader comes from among us, is something that anybody can choose to become.

Mike Ritchie commented that we should shine a light on the waste industry’s many good leaders. Which led to this, a series that is intended to show the riches of leadership in our sector.

The second article of the series is about Matt Genever, Managing Director at Reincarnate.


Matt Genever – The pragmatic idealist

Matt Genever PortraitMatt describes himself as a bogan. Living on a quarter acre block in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs, driving a Holden, two kids, two dogs, loving wife…and an expensive taste for Pinot Noir. Because, as is widely known, most bogans savour the delicate palate of a fine Pinot.

He’s also the man behind the boutique consultancy Reincarnate. Reincarnate is Matt’s personal launching pad, having established a reputation first with Sustainability Victoria, then with Hyder Consulting and culminating as the inaugural CEO of Tyre Stewardship Australia.

Matt has a reputation for making things happen. For being able to make the complex simple. This happens by being able to speak both private sector and government languages. Making sustainability mainstream. Whether that’s partnering with management consultants or using his influence on the school Council to get solar panels on the local primary school.

Matt can see a number of specific challenges to the sector. They relate a lot to Government and how it interacts with the sector. Things like:

  1. The lack of long-term planning, and the resulting stifling of the rich diversity of entrepreneurs and innovators in the sector;
  2. The lack of investment, and the sporadic, unplanned nature of investment that does happen;
  3. The focus on ever tighter regulation of licensed operators rather than pursuing and shutting down rogue operators; and
  4. The inability to support the sector by deliberate and purposeful procurement policies that push recycled product.

In short, government needs to set a clear and guiding vision, then use all of its tools to achieve that vision. Tools that include regulation, investment and procurement.

What might that guiding vision entail? Well, eventually society will need to acknowledge that we need a circular system. That manufacturing and re-manufacturing are one and the same thing.

Achieving this vision will require collaboration. Strategic thinking. And courage. A word that is perhaps underplayed or misused in the current age.

Matt stands for courage. Not reckless ignorance of consequences, but taking a stand on things that matter.

Or as Matt puts it for people new to the field:

“Keep your ideals but don’t be idealistic, this is an industry driven by profit like any other. Look for solutions that are smart, that make both economic and environmental sense. Speak up, lead from the front and push hard. It’s quite simply the best sector that you could ever work in!”

Matt brings people up and makes the sector as a whole much stronger, much more capable of the sorts of changes that are needed to make the circular economy shift.

A leader with the pragmatic idealism that will actually change the world.

As always, I welcome your feedback on this, or any other topic on ‘The Tipping Point’.