Sunny Misser: A Visionary in the New Business Environment

CEO: Sunny Misser

CEO: Sunny Misser

When Sunil (Sunny) Misser joined AccountAbility to become its CEO, it was with the aim of filling a gap in the market that he had identified – the “one-stop shop for all things Sustainability”.

His background working all over the world had made him the ideal person to fill that gap.

Originally from Mumbai (which he still refers to as Bombay), Misser obtained his master’s from Lehigh University followed by another at MIT Sloan School of Management (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and then forged a formidable career for himself at PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) where he rose to become the Global Head of Firmwide Strategy and subsequently Global Managing Partner of its Sustainable Advisory Business.

His roles involved working with large global clients, developing and implementing solutions in the areas of strategy, structure, process, and people.

During his time at PwC, Misser not only improved the efficiency and effectiveness of organisations but also oversaw many complex business transformations. He served as a strategic business advisor to CEOs, Boards, and senior executives at Fortune 500 companies and multi-lateral organisations (MLOs).

He was a pioneer in the field of “mainstreaming” ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) back when sustainability was a developing academic platform and just a vague notion that a few companies paid lip service to.

AccountAbility was founded in 1995 with the aim of enabling organisations to incorporate those principles into their working DNA.

Misser is very direct when it comes to defining today’s AccountAbility and its purpose. “We are not an advocacy platform or an activist forum – we are an expert ESG advisory firm that provides objective counsel to CEO’s and Boards on how to improve their business performance”.

“As a global consulting and standards firm, we focus on delivering practical, effective, and enduring results that enable our clients to succeed”, he states.

AccountAbility’s purpose is to innovate and advance the global Sustainability / ESG agenda by improving the practices, performance, and impact of organisations.
Misser is a big believer in ‘good’ governance. Good governance, as he puts it, comprises three basic elements – managing risk, enabling engagement and improving performance.”

He went on to explain, “Good governance creates better performance. Builds great companies. Increases stock values. You buy stock. You create jobs. Businesses grow. They pay more taxes – Improved overall performance. Period”.

He has simplified the narrative, identified and focused on the key factors that drive ESG and has shown many companies how this can add value and improve their overall performance.

He attributes his success to four fundamental elements:

  • Mental and Emotional Resiliency
  • Mastering your Craft
  • Building and Nurturing Meaningful Relationships
  • Effectively Managing Luck – Good or Bad.

The mental and emotional resiliency are qualities that have given him the confidence to lead but he rightly points out that mastering the craft, or being on top of whatever endeavour one chooses, is fundamental to obtaining the best outcomes. Misser sees resilience (in all its forms) as a combination of inner strength, flexibility and persistence.

You only have to speak to Misser to understand how open and engaging he is and how his integrity, warm personality and his affability enable him to establish strong, enduring relationships that stand the test of time. People do business with those they trust and like and the ability to create strong rapports with one’s clients and peers is a vital component. Misser’s Advisory Board comprises of top Regulators, former Chairmen and CEO’s of some of the world largest companies – all clients that he personally served and has known for decades.

The fourth attribute is fascinating. Luck is an interesting concept that many leaders refuse to acknowledge. He not only recognises it but realises that whatever life might throw at us, it’s how we deal with those vicissitudes that single us out. “Being deeply learned, working extremely hard and using well spoken words – that’s my definition of good luck.“, he commented.

Misser is a self-confessed workaholic and voracious reader who loves interacting (and learning) from professions completely different to his own – he has befriended athletes, religious preachers, surgeons, chefs, painters and, yes, homeless individuals.

He has also imparted his ideas in a book which he co-wrote Corporate Responsibility – Strategy, Management, and Value. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is often quoted in media such as Fortune, Financial Times, The Economist, New York Times, New York Stock Exchange Quarterly, Forbes, Dow Jones Interactive, Global Finance, and Internal Auditor’s Magazine.

His plain-spoken honesty, clarity of thought and relentless focus have led to the best possible practical outcomes and that is what sets him apart.

It is undoubtedly appropriate to sum up by letting Misser put it in his own words:

“In my 30 years in the consulting business, the awareness of Sustainability / ESG matters (risks and returns) in the C-Suite has never been higher. Stakeholders are no longer satisfied with output measures – instead, they are very much focused on impact.

The CEO role itself is expanding far beyond the day-to-day running of the business. The ‘Tone at the Top’, therefore, needs to be genuine, informed and balanced in its response and consider the organisation’s long term viability”.

Enough said.

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