Filling CSO shoes that keep growing
While the replacement CSO will build on his or her predecessor’s accomplishments, the departure of the first CSO creates an opportunity for change. The successor must recognize how he or she is uniquely qualified for this position and how those unique qualities are different from the predecessor’s.
Garrett took sustainability in a broader direction for PG&E. When Kline created and stepped into the first CSO role, the job was primarily focused on environmental policy and leadership. Kline was the Washington, D.C.-based VP of corporate environmental and federal affairs. His skills, talents and relationships with the environmental community were the right formula to spearhead sustainability for the company.
“What differentiates my challenge in the CSO role today is that with the foundation established, we must now focus on further broadening PG&E's sustainability definition, deepening the integration of sustainability into the business,” says Garrett.
As Duke Energy’s first CSO, Bowman was successful at deploying the activities of the sustainability department. “Frankly, she handed over the keys to a very well-oiled machine, with robust programs and a strong team,” Heath states. He says the transition was made easier by the fact that he and Bowman have very similar views in terms of the role of sustainability and how it creates value for a company and its stakeholders.
Even though Heath came into the CSO role being aligned in this way with Bowman, “I think it is valuable — in fact, necessary — to take a fresh look at things in hopes of finding new ways to advance sustainability within the company. As sustainability professionals we must practice what we preach, which means that a continuous improvement mindset should always guide our actions,” he says. For a CSO and his or her department to stay relevant, the goals and priorities of the sustainability program must continuously evolve.
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