About Beatrice


Working with verve, imagination, grit and skill, I delight in joining forces with committed, creative people to see potential fulfilled, contributing to a flourishing, saner world and more sustainable  business models, products and services.  If you are running an organization or project with a strong positive purpose and you believe I might help develop or cascade solutions, please get in touch.   

Background colour: ‘help you if I can’ by Rinnaaay

How I can help


Strengths include:


  • Relationships – building long-term, trusting relationships across diverse cultures and among high level decision makers, including clients, colleagues, and partners; key account management
  • Business development – rapidly creating and communicating tailored value propositions, allowing clients to navigate, grasp and fully benefit from complex offerings.   Effectively operating across a broad spectrum of business sectors and commercial interests, having managed a client base and pipeline of potential clients comprising hundreds of global companies across 20+ sectors and 35+ countries.
  • Broad cultural sensitivity – particularly as a bridge between East and West; fluent in Chinese with 7 years living, working and studying in China and Taiwan.
  • Sustainability – especially sustainable business, design and innovation.
  • Communications – equally strong in writing, speaking and listening; presenting complex concepts or offerings with compelling freshness, adapted to the audience; sifting piles of information for nuggets that can spark light bulbs of the mind; award-winning author known for limpid English and subtle wit.
  • Thinking – clarity and creativity in thought combined with (un)common sense; teasing structure and simplicity out of complexity; strategic and lateral thinking to connect people and ideas, expand options and solve problems.
  • Personal – warmth, authenticity, tact and integrity; self starter and standard setter in quality and professionalism; humour and charm to engage and disarm.  


In sum: good karma, no drama.

Click below for more on sustainability.

Colour: ‘sustain’ by roseschwartz

For more on fools & jesters, click below.

Colour: ‘April’s fool’ by testebarbie

Career summary
In a nutshell:
  • As Director Member Relations at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), I spent 8 years helping hundreds of global companies make full use of their membership to advance on sustainability.
  • Before joining the WBCSD, I worked for 10 years as a consultant on sustainability projects for the UK’s Design Council, including defining a sustainability strategy, Searching for Solutions.
  • Having studied Chinese for 10 years and lived and worked in China and Taiwan for 7 years, I led the industry capacity building activities of the EU’s biggest environment programme in China, piloting a sustainable business network in four cities and developing senior executive seminars on sustainable business, delivered in Chinese.
  • A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce (RSA) and, incidentally, a global expert on the court fool and the humanizing power of humour.


Background colour: ‘sustainable’ by charmarie

Research, writing & consultancy


“You have the best pen in the house”  – president of a former employer

“The only reports that all the Directors actually read” – a client director

Having worked on a range of projects for the UK’s Design Council and others, with client reactions ranging from ‘a joy to read’ to ‘I wouldn’t change a word of it’, please get in touch if you think I can help bring your project to life and fruition.  Some examples:


  • Sustainable Office Design White Paper – commissioned by Morgan Lovell to inspire more sustainable office design
  • Online sustainability ‘knowledge cell’  – clear-as-crystal first port of call for the uninitiated, to provide a balanced and engaging overview of the terrain
  • Searching for Solutionsa pulse-taking overview of sustainability drawing on interviews with 100 global experts; ‘a joy to read’ providing strategic recommendations and options.
  • Eco-design case studies addressing both design and marketing issues – still in use after 15 years.
  • Scoping study of eco-design – to inform strategy on eco-design; according to client, the only report actually read by all directors due to clarity and conciseness.
  • Bringing innovation to life – developed a script for a major US corporation with wit and lightness of touch.
  • Position paper on financial aspects of innovation to mark client’s strategic relaunch.
  • Overview of UK investment providers – to help find avenues for collaboration with a new audience.
  • Bankers’ attitudes to innovation – helping client understand communication gaps between those who have good ideas and those who (might) fund them.
Project incubation & management
Examples include:
  • Sustainable Mobility Project 2.0 – acting Director of this WBCSD initiative, moving from initial scoping to fully-fledged USD 4.5m project with 15 corporations across the mobility spectrum, and leading the recruitment of permanent staff.
  • Sustainable Strategies – for the Design Council with the Confederation of British Industry and Envirowise – working with eight companies to understand obstacles to sustainable practices and find common ground among diverse businesses.
  • Young at Art – a Design Council and London Institute collaboration on experimental art workshops for disadvantaged children, raising their awareness of environmental issues.
  • Science, Technology and Reading (STAR) – to deliver science, technology and reading requirements in schools, in partnership with Design Council, Royal Society of Chemists, Institute of Physics, and Esso.
Talks & seminars


Variously described as ‘flawless’, ‘thought-provoking’, ‘wonderful’ and ‘fantastic’, I give talks and seminars that are highly visual, inspiring and rich with examples, in English or Chinese.  Please get in touch if you believe I could enliven your programme or organization.

On sustainable business and design, bringing appeal to a subject often sold as obligation more than opportunity. Examples include: London and Warwick Business Schools, Foreign & Commonwealth Office China, EU-China cooperation programme, Royal Society of Arts, British Council, Design Council, Technical University Delft, construction industry association in China, Institut National Genevois.

On court fools and the humanizing power of humour: 


  • Chicago University Press, author interview.
  • Hanken School of Economics, ‘The Freshness of Fools, or fixing things through humour’, Helsinki, February 2015.
  • BBC Radio 3, interviewed, May 2014.
  • Appledore Book Festival, ‘Fools Are Everywhere’, Appledore, Devon, September 2008.
  • Enquiry, interview by Mark Lynch, November 2007.
  • Beijing Book Club, ‘Fools Are Everywhere’, Beijing, June 2005.
  • BBC Radio 3, interviewed by Michael Rosen for the Rigoletto interval, March 2002.
  • Australian National Radio, interviewed, December 2001.
  • BBC World Service, Outlook, interviewed, May 2001.
Award-winning author


Five glorious years were spent writing Fools Are Everywhere: The court jester around the world, the most comprehensive and only global study in its field, published to broad critical acclaim (University of Chicago Press).  It also won American Association of Publishers’ award for outstanding book of the year in its class.  

Presentations and interviews include: Australian National Radio, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service, Appledore Book Festival, Hanken School of Economics and others.

Career timeline


2006-2014 – World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

The WBCSD is a CEO-led coalition of some 200 global companies working to advance an ambitious sustainable development agenda. As Director Member Relations I managed the organization’s relationships with member companies and hundreds of potential members from 20+ sectors and over 35 countries, recruiting new members, and developing and delivering the member engagement, retention and recruitment strategy.

2003-2005 – EU-China Environmental Cooperation Programme

Working to integrate sustainability into Chinese business management for a major EU-China government cooperation programme, bringing sustainable business concepts to life, including piloting a CEO Sustainable Business Network and senior executive seminars, designed in and delivered in Chinese.
1994-2006 – independent consultant
Working for a variety of clients, principally the UK’s Design Council, on a range of design, innovation and sustainability related projects.
1986-1989 – living & working in Taiwan
Institute of International Relations – edited international conference papers and speeches for Prime Minister and others to foster quasi-diplomatic relations.
Hsueh’s Enterprise – helped establish the import branch of a Taiwanese trading company, finding international agents and researching products suitable for import to Taiwan, operating in a Chinese language context.
Commercial Trademark Services – wrote reports on investigations into copyright infringements for use as evidence in court – praised by prosecuting lawyers for clarity and wit (‘I just wish I could bill my clients for laughing time’).  Cleared inherited 3-9 month backlog in weeks.
Sinorama and Tri-Services Hospital – translated articles for Sinorama (a Taiwan international showcase) and medical research papers.

Need help creating or cascading solutions? Please get in touch...

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Image credit: Patrick Tomasso, FIKA café, Toronto, unsplash.com

But learning how to live takes a whole life.  

Seneca – Vita Brevis

Colour: ‘life is short’ by carbonandmilk



1989-1994 – East Asian Studies Department, University of Edinburgh

  • Postgraduate research on Fools Are Everywhere: The court jester around the world, the most comprehensive and only global study in its field, published to broad critical acclaim (University of Chicago Press).
  • Lectured on Taiwan and history of technology in China – voted best and liveliest lecturer.
  • Worked as Chinese interpreter for Miss and Mr. World.


1985-1986 – Department of Chinese, Fudan University, Shanghai

  • Won a British Council scholarship to China to study classical Chinese.


1981-1985 – Department of East Asian Studies, University of Leeds

  • BA Hons (2.1) in Modern Chinese and Mongolian, with a year in Fudan University, Shanghai.


Background colour: ‘learn learn learn’ by trollbaba

Image credit: Patrick Tomasso, FIKA café, Toronto, unsplash.com

© Beatrice Otto 2019 - design & content


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