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BILT Learning Labs are an opportunity for TVET stakeholders to explore specific Innovation and Learning Practices from Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe.

It's not easy being green: Fifty Shades Greener explores its entrepreneurial take on how to develop sustainable practices and curriculum

This Learning Lab took place on:

15 June 2023. It focused on the question how Fifty Shades Greener, a woman-led TVET provider, are thinking outside of the box on how to green education in the tourism and hospitality sector.

Interprétation français-anglais disponible

Fifty Shades Greener (FSG): A woman-led TVET provider

Creating a more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable world can seem like an insurmountable challenge. How can we in the TVET community work together to implement such a lofty goal? Similarly, how do we incorporate sustainability directives into curriculum, as well as make them standardized practices within the industries and communities we serve.

Fifty Shades Greener (FSG) is up for the challenge. Starting with the simple question of “What steps can I take to green my own work environment?”, Raquel Noboa set to task developing her own strategy to make the hotel where she worked more environmentally sustainable. The approach she developed blended Irish and European government regulations with common-sense practices. It was easy for employees to follow and it was financially beneficial for the hotel.

Wanting to share her innovative method with others in the hospitality and tourism sector, Raquel went on to begin developing learning materials and founded her company Fifty Shades Greener. Since its founding in 2017, FSG has gone on to develop not only training and certification programmes in the hospitality sector, but has also branched out into other industries, government consultation, and primary school education. While still firmly rooted in Ireland, it has recently expanded operations to the UK and India.

Developing curriculum that includes the skills and competencies needed to transition to a greener economy must become the standard and not the exception. Furthermore, while there is a plethora of existing regulations, from the international to the local levels, it is oftentimes difficult for TVET providers and industry partners to develop concrete methods for implementation. Learning from examples like FSG is one way that we in the wider TVET community can think about how to adapt our own curricula and practices to support our changing environment.


Times are indicated in CEST. French-English interpretation was made available (Interprétation français-anglais disponible)

15 June 2023

11:00 – 11:05: Opening and Welcome to the BILT Learning Lab Series

Introduction slides

11:05 – 11:15: Key Concepts and Introduction of Speakers

11:15 – 11:25: Elevator Pitch

Fifty Shades Greener: My Green Journey

  • Ms Raquel Noboa, Founder and CEO, Fifty Shades Greener
11:25 – 12:00: Panel Discussion

Travelling together into a better future: How is Fifty Shades Greener changing the TVET pedagogical landscape and what have proven to be the most successful methods on your journey in promoting education for sustainable development (ESD) in Ireland and abroad?

Moderator: Ms Valbona Makovci, BIBB


  • Ms Eileen Cullen, Innovation and Training Manager, Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB)
  • Mr Simon Clever, Director of Partnerships, Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality (CTH)
  • Ms Christina O’Sullivan, Financial Controller and Head of Sustainability, The Imperial Hotel Cork
  • Mr Ish Anand, Founding Director, India Sustainability Fund
12:00 - 12:25: Q&A Session

  • All participants
Moderator: Ms Valbona Makovci, BIBB

12:25 – 12:30 Closing

Introduction slides (see slides 7 and 8)


Ms Raquel Noboa, Founder and CEO, Fifty Shades Greener

Ms Raquel Noboa is the founder and CEO of Fifty Shades Greener, an educational company for Sustainable Development through Green Skills application.

Her early career started in the Hospitality industry managing Hotels for over 20 years, and starting her own Green Journey at Hotel Doolin, in Ireland in 2012. Within 2 years implementing Raquel’s green actions, the Hotel reduced its Energy use by 30%, waste by 40% and water use by 25%. Subsequently winning many awards and positioning the Hotel as a leader in the Sustainable travel market. Hotel Doolin is now the 1st Carbon Neutral Hotel in Ireland since 2019.

Raquel left her beloved career at Hotel Doolin in 2017 to found Fifty Shades Greener, initially, as an environmental educational company for the Hospitality sector. Since then, her career has gone from strength to strength, now working in Education, delivering Green Skills programmes to all industries and consulting for governments and large organisations, the private sector, schools and third level institutions.

Fifty Shades Greener mission is to empower People through ESD, so they can support the planet and other people in society, through their everyday actions and decisions.

Ms Eileen Cullen, Assistant Principal Officer, Training services and Innovation, Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB)

Ms Eileen Cullen has over 35 years leading finance within the vocational education sector and is focused on supporting and co-ordinating education, training and youth services in Kildare and Wicklow. With specific responsibility for providing primary, post primary, post leaving certificate, apprenticeships, traineeships, youth services, music, community, outdoor and adult further education, and training. Eileen has led multiple departmental teams delivering service excellence that provide for the needs of all learners in our community.

Eileen has championed innovation through thought leadership, collaboration with a particular focus on sustainable education development, delivering national programmes through schools, industry, and partnerships. Her leadership has seen exponential growth in programme design and delivery helping businesses meet the future skills needs across all NACE sectors. Innovation led initiatives including Recognition of Prior Learning for the Irish Hospitality Sector, Redefining the Experience Economy in a modern-day Ireland context, Advanced manufacturing and robotics centre of excellence are to name but a few of the current projects helping meet those important career pathways into employment and upskilling.

Mr Simon Clever, Director of Partnerships, Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality (CTH)

With over 30 years of industry experience Mr Clever has been closely involved in the education sector throughout his career, serving on the boards of both English UK and Study UK. Prior to his role at CTH, Simon worked in the education sector, launching, running and developing further and higher education colleges in various UK cities. Simon was a board director of British Study Centres, an educational group with colleges around the UK, including British Study Centres School of English, West London College and Hove College Brighton.

Since 2001, he has been closely involved with the Confederation of Tourism & Hospitality (CTH), helping to develop and strengthen it, shaping it into becoming a leading specialist niche qualifications provider in the hospitality, culinary, travel and tourism sectors.

In his role as the Director of Partnerships he manages CTH's industry relationships. Moreover, he is responsible for coordinating special projects and Centre development work, as well as heading up CTH’s relationships with key industry players and universities.

“CTH is an exciting organisation to be involved with and I very much feel that my work here makes a big difference. The industries we serve are huge and their need for high quality trained staff almost limitless. Our business goal is to ensure 'Gold Standard qualifications' for the hospitality, culinary, travel and tourism industries and that is what drives us. It is our passion.”

In addition to his business endeavours, Simon is also actively engaged in philanthropic work. He is a founder trustee and board member of the Hotcourses & Nyumbani Foundation, a charity set up to develop educational opportunities for orphans in Kenya. Simon founded the organization in partnership with Lady Morris (former UK Education Secretary) and Jeremy Hunt MP (UK Chancellor of the Exchequer and former UK Foreign Secretary).

Ms Christina O’Sullivan, Financial Controller and Head of Sustainability, The Imperial Hotel Cork

Ms Christina O’Sullivan is a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. Christina joined The Imperial Hotel Cork in November 2018 as Financial Controller bringing with her over fifteen years’ experience in finance. Christina took on an additional role within the company in 2019 as head of sustainability. Ms O’Sullivan holds a post graduate certificate in Sustainability in Enterprise with the National University of Ireland and completed a Green Manager Programme with Fifty Shades Greener in 2022. Christina continues to develop her skills in Sustainability and is currently completing the ESG Programme with Fifty Shades Greener.

As a finance professional Christina has adopted the triple bottom line approach of reporting, an accounting framework that incorporates three dimensions of performance: social, environmental, and financial, looking beyond standard measurements of profit and loss and thinking more deeply about how the company operates. Since 2019, the aim has been to develop internal and external responses to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and incorporate them into planning and policy within the hotel. This has had many favourable outcomes for the company, the environment, and the people.

Mr Ish Anand, Founding Director, India Sustainability Fund

Mr Ish Anand has 32 years of experience in industry and as an entrepreneur on five continents. He has worked with several Indian, trans-national and multi-national businesses from inception to leadership roles. Ish has had two successful stints working as an entrepreneur, with one of his founding companies, Call2Connect India now Route Mobile, successful becoming an initial public offering (IPO).

During his corporate and entrepreneurial journey, Ish has worked in the areas of skills development, education, private equity, real estate, hospitality, IT / information technology enabled services (ITES), e-Commerce, co-living & student housing, FinTech and the startup ecosystem.

In addition to his entrepreneurial endeavours, Ish is a passionate trainer and motivational speaker. He has been invited to speak at several national and international conferences and forums. He has also appeared on television as an expert commentator and is featured in the book written by Raam Anand Leading with Excellence – 5 Incredibly Useful Leadership Insights from 100 Top Achievers. Ish believes strongly in giving back to society and in environmental, social and governance (ESG). As such he works closely on several innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives for young students, including the outreach program at Fifty Shades Greener. Furthermore, he sits on advisory boards of several different social impact organizations, such as the Gracehut Foundation.

Ish was a Graduate Merit student at the National University of Ireland (Galway) in Hospitality Studies. Followed by a stint at the Wharton Business School, where he attended the Advanced Management Program, and later onto Georgia Tech, to receive certification as an Innovation and Technolgy, Transfer professional. He is also a certified business coach and master trainer, with certification by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and as a neurolinguistic programming (NLP) Practitioner and life coach.

Most recently, Mr Anand was the winner of the Outstanding Leadership Award at the Money 2.0 Conference at Dubai in December 2022.

This Learning Lab is presented by

The BILT project is implemented by

with support of

and sponsored by

UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training UN Campus, Platz der Vereinten Nationen 1 53113 Bonn, Germany
unevoc.bilt @ unesco.org
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