Swantje Pabst

As an Advisor, Swantje works with companies to support their implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

Swantje is an international lawyer with more than ten years of experience in international criminal law, human rights implementation and business and human rights. She has worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague as well as the UN Khmer-Rouge Tribunal in Phnom Penh. She has also worked on the broader implementation of human rights with the EU External Action Service, and with the Committee for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs of the German Federal Parliament. As a research fellow for the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law for Cambodia and the Sudan, she designed and delivered training to members of parliament and government representatives.

Prior to joining shift, Swantje was a Manager for Human Rights at Mercedes-Benz Group AG, where she set up the company’s human rights due diligence management system and oversaw implementation of its activities throughout the supply chain. In this role, she also led the implementation of the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act in company policies and processes, working closely with Mercedes’ procurement units and other relevant functions in headquarters and entities across the world. Swantje has also represented Mercedes, a founding member, in the Sector Dialogue of the German Automotive Industry, a multi-stakeholder forum and the first of its kind. Alongside the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, business associations, civil society organizations, trade unions and other enterprises in the automotive supply chain, the sector dialogue seeks to develop joint solutions to address human rights risks and improve the protection of human rights along automotive supply chains. Amongst other things, this included the establishment of a cross-company grievance mechanism in Mexico that seeks to improve access to remedy in the lower tiers of the supply chain.

Swantje holds Master of Laws (distinction) in International Law with a Spezialisation in Human Rights and a Bachelor of Laws in European Law from Maastricht University. She also holds an M.A. (distinction) in European and International Studies from the Centre International de Formation Européenne. She has been a guest lecturer at several universities, including the University of Groningen and the Central European University in Vienna.

Ngonie Chiligo



As Shift’s Operations Coordinator, Ngonie works with Shift’s team of experts to provide operational support for Shift’s mission, helping to drive positive transformation in corporate practice.

Ngonie brings unique perspective and skills to Shift, shaped through diverse experiences in project and event management in the public sector and various UK charities, including Christians Against Poverty (CAP) and Malawi Leeds Association (MLA).

Originally hailing from the vibrant landscapes of Malawi, Ngonie’s journey has been driven by a deep-rooted commitment to creating meaningful impact through well-executed projects and events. Her approach is characterized by a blend of strategic thinking, meticulous planning, and a keen eye for detail.

Ngonie holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice, and is passionate about understanding and addressing societal challenges.

Théo Jaekel



Théo Jaekel is a lawyer specialized in business and human rights and international law. He brings over a decade’s experience working with multinational companies, both as in-house and external legal counsel, research-based civil society organizations, as well as academia.

Théo’s hands-on experience in the implementation of international standards and legal frameworks on business and human rights includes designing and embedding due diligence processes across value chains and global operations, conducting in-depth and on the ground research and investigations in high-risk countries, establishing governance and accountability structures as well as supporting clients on legal cases.

Théo is a frequent, and internationally recognized, panel speaker and lecturer at several universities, and has held several non-executive board seats for international organizations.

Théo holds an LL.M. in international law from Stockholm University and his previous experiences include managing the global legal human rights team at Ericsson Group as Director, Business and Human Rights, establishing and leading the human rights practice group at Vinge law firm, and conducting research projects and investigations on corporate accountability, including field work in high-risk and conflict-affected areas for Swedwatch. Théo currently works as an independent business and human rights advisor.

As a trained and certified SA8000 auditor, Théo conducts social audits in a wide range of sectors and geographies, including extractives, ICT manufacturing and apparel.

Helen Meekings



As a Senior Advisor, Helen develops and leads Shift’s work at the nexus of human rights and environment, climate and biodiversity. Helen is an energetic, collaborative and experienced senior leader bringing with her more than 20 years’ experience in sustainability and climate change, 11 of which have been in the international finance sector. Helen has worked at the senior executive level, leading climate and ESG organizational change, including in the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). She has also led international negotiations and UK government policy development relating to climate, sustainability and export finance.

Helen is experienced in delivering the requirements of the UN Guiding Principles from a business and government perspective, particularly in her role with UK Export Finance, where she headed their environmental and social risk management team for a number of years. She has worked with business, financial institutions, standard setters and civil society on interrelated sustainability issues at both corporate and project level. This includes significant experience in the implementation of the IFC Performance Standards, Equator Principles, and with OECD requirements such as the OCED Common Approaches and Guidelines for Multilateral Enterprises. More recently, Helen has advised and supported businesses and financial institutions with evolving international ESG requirements, such as those of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), EU and Global Reporting Initiative.

Helen is a strategic thinker supported by strong practical knowledge and skills gained from working internationally throughout her career and across many industrial sectors. Helen is a civil and public health engineer by training, and a professionally qualified chartered engineer and chartered environmentalist in the UK.

Rutger Goethart



In his role as a Senior Associate at Shift, Rutger focuses on corporate human rights due diligence, supporting companies to assess, address, prioritize, and report potential human rights impacts. He guides companies on the practical application of the UNGPs, supporting the acquisition of internal buy-in and development of strategy and policies, risk assessment, external stakeholder engagement and collection of feedback, action-planning and communications and reporting.

Rutger’s expertise is in human rights, labor rights and public/government affairs, in both national and international and EU contexts. Rutger gained this experience through work at the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) supporting the development of the social European Sustainability Reporting Standards; 15 years at HEINEKEN, as Senior Manager for International Labor Relations, where he was responsible for international labor relations and labor & human rights and as Global Public/Government Affairs Manager; as International Public Affairs Manager and as Manager for International Labor Relations at the Postal & Express Company TNT (now part of FedEx). His first practical experience in Labor Rights & Relations and Public Affairs was as Secretary of International Social Affairs for the Dutch Employers’ Federation.

Rutger is an independent member of the Dutch OECD National Contact Point for responsible business conduct (NCP). The NCP mandate is to promote the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and related due diligence guidance, and to handle cases (referred to as “specific instances”) as a non-judicial grievance mechanism.

Rutger studied at the Faculty of Law at Utrecht University, where he specialized in Labor and Civil law. He speaks English and Dutch and is proficient in French, Spanish and German. He is based in Amsterdam.

Subajini Jayasekaran



As an Advisor at Shift, Subajini works with companies and other strategic partners to support their implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

Suba brings extensive operational experience working on children’s and women’s rights. Prior to joining Shift, she worked for 17 years with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in Asia and Africa and global headquarters in New York and Geneva. Suba was the architect of UNICEF’s Better Business for Children initiative, positioning UNICEF as one of the leading organizations working with business to create positive impact for women and children in workplaces and across global supply chains. Suba also played a key role in the development of the Children’s Rights and Business Principles, a framework for businesses to respect and support children’s rights, building directly on the UN Guiding Principles.

Suba has worked on child rights in a range of business sectors – from the apparel sector in Bangladesh, to footwear factories in Vietnam, palm oil plantations in Indonesia, and cocoa farms in Côte d’Ivoire. She began her career at UNICEF working in humanitarian and conflict programming in Sri Lanka and Sudan. Here, she managed child protection programs, building the capacity of government and civil society and strengthening systems for social work, social protection, mental health and psychosocial wellbeing and justice for children. She has developed information management systems to monitor child rights violations in conflict and led programs to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of former child soldiers.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Suba created a social media project called Nyaanum to explore diversity and inclusion in travel storytelling. Through the project, she worked with local and indigenous communities to create a series of short Instagram videos capturing everyday life from their perspective. The videos were featured on the UN Biodiversity Instagram channel, reaching an audience of 300,000.

Suba has published on business and children’s rights, writing about family-friendly workplace policies, and children as stakeholders in the financial sector. She has a Masters in Social Policy and Planning from the London School of Economics and Political Science; and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto.

Defne Sökmen

Defne Gürsoy Sökmen | ADVISOR


As an Advisor, Defne works with companies and other strategic partners to support their implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

Defne has extensive experience researching a range of human rights and international legal issues, including the UNGPs and corporate accountability. Prior to joining Shift, Defne was an independent researcher and consultant on labor rights, where she focused on occupational health and safety, collaborating with a variety of stakeholders, from the ILO to trade unions. Previously, she worked as a researcher on reporting projects for UNESCO, Freemuse and the OSCE, looking at artistic freedom, freedom of expression, and anti-slavery.

Defne is currently a PhD candidate at the Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. Her project explores the shift from the corporate social responsibility tools of the liberal economy to those of the financial economy, with a focus on the use and purpose of voluntary social disclosure mechanisms and performance rating systems.

Defne has instructed courses on legal process, ethical lawyering, corporate social responsibility and transnational law in Canada and the UK.

Defne holds degrees in Law from the Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London (LL.M, distinction) and Koç University in Istanbul (LL.B, Member of the Istanbul Bar). She is currently the co-managing editor of Transnational Legal Theory, a refereed law review of transnational law.

Ruben Zandvliet



As Deputy Director for Standards, Ruben works with governments, companies, civil society organizations and investors to drive alignment with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in public and private standard-setting initiatives. In this role he focuses on mandatory due diligence and reporting regulations, working closely with Shift’s Vice President and Co-founder, Rachel Davis. He also supports Shift’s wider engagements with companies and financial institutions in relation to regulatory developments, and thematic work on strengthening the ‘S’ in ESG.

Prior to joining Shift, Ruben was Business and Human Rights Advisor at the Dutch bank ABN AMRO, where he was responsible for the coordination of ABN AMRO’s Human Rights Programme.  Here, he helped embed the UNGPs into the bank’s corporate lending, project finance, retail banking and investment activities. Between 2016 and 2019, he represented the bank in the Dutch Banking Sector Agreement on Human Rights, a ground-breaking multistakeholder collaboration between banks, civil society organizations, trade unions and the Dutch government, ingraining responsible business conduct into the global operations of participating banks. In 2017 Ruben co-authored ABN AMRO’s Human Rights Report, following the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework, making it the first bank ever to do so.

During his time at ABN AMRO, Ruben was also a member of various expert groups on business and human rights. Within the Social Risk Working Group of the Equator Principles Association, Ruben worked to advance remedy in the context of project finance. And, as a member of the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group, he helped to inform the initial draft EU sustainability reporting standards. He has previously worked as a Policy Advisor in the Dutch Parliament, advising on corporate responsibility for human rights, and as a Public Affairs Advisor to the Dutch Chamber of Commerce.

Ruben has a PhD from Leiden University. His dissertation, which is published by Brill| Nijhoff, examines the ways in which trade and investment law both enables and constrains international labor standards. He is currently based in the Netherlands.

Jenny Holdcroft



As Deputy Director of Business Engagement, Jenny works with companies, governments, financial institutions, civil society organizations, funders and partners to advance Shift’s mission to redefine corporate practice to fully embed human rights. Working closely with the Business Engagement team, she facilitates strategic alignment and shared learning across Shift’s work.

Jenny has over 20 years of experience working with trade unions, companies, NGOs, multistakeholder initiatives, academics and others to drive progress on business and human rights. Most recently, Jenny was Assistant General Secretary at IndustriALL Global Union, where she led major initiatives on precarious work, living wages and sustainable industrial policy. There, she engaged extensively with multinational companies, governments, NGOs and trade unions to develop pioneering joint strategies, including the ACT initiative on living wages in garment supply chains, linking brand purchasing practices to the payment of higher wages, and the seminal Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, for which Jenny jointly led the first international arbitration in the field of business and human rights to enforce its provisions.

Before this Jenny was Director of ICT, Electrical and Electronics and Aerospace Departments at the International Metal Workers Federation in Geneva. She has also held posts at the Affirmative Action Agency, the National Tertiary Education Union, and the Community and Public Sector Union, in Sydney, Australia.

Since January 2021, Jenny has worked with Shift’s Accounting for Living Wages project to support the development of an accounting model that enables companies to measure and report on progress towards living wages across their workforces and supply chains.

Jenny holds a Masters in Labour Law and Relations from the University of Sydney, and a Bachelor’s degree in French and Linguistics from the University of Exeter.

Matilda Donaldson



As Communications Manager, Matilda works with Shift’s team of experts to provide communications support for Shift’s mission, helping to drive positive transformation in corporate practice.

Matilda brings a wide range of experience working with national and global sustainability NGOs, particularly in the field of sustainable food and farming and supply chains. Most recently, as Organic Cotton Program Coordinator at Textile Exchange, she worked to scale up the production and adoption of organic cotton, as part of Textile Exchange’s mission to accelerate the uptake of preferred fibers and materials to meet greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

Prior to this, Matilda worked in communications roles at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in Geneva, and at the Soil Association, the UK’s leading organic food and farming charity. As a communications intern in the Climate and Energy team at WBCSD, she focused on scalable solutions to the climate crisis. Subsequently, as Press Officer at the Soil Association, she landed critical food, farming, and environment stories in outlets such as the BBC, the Guardian, and the Financial Times, at key moments during the Brexit transition and Covid-19 pandemic.

Matilda holds a BSc in Integrated Environmental Studies from Jacobs University Bremen. She is currently based in the United Kingdom.