Attention execs: Who has been your best internal ally?

Attention execs: Who has been your best internal ally?

Aerial image of people forming in the shape of two allies

As 2015 ends, we decided to get some advice from members of the GreenBiz Executive Network, our member-based, peer-to-peer learning forum for sustainability professionals, about who within their companies has been an effective ally.

Judging from their responses, your best ally can come from anywhere within the organization. And they might even be someone who previously used to run away from you.

Here's what our members said when we asked, "Who has been your best internal ally and why?"

John Schulz, AVP, Sustainability Operations, AT&T

The members of our Sustainability Steering Committee  made up of executives from across the company  were critical to successfully launching our new 2025 Goals platform.

These long-term goals and targets will help us focus our resources and keep us accountable for progress.

We’re not just focused on outputs, but on outcome and our impact. That takes focus and time. We stretched ourselves and made long-term, somewhat aspirational goals. Now, the journey begins and we are looking forward to chronicling it.

Kim Marotta, director of sustainability, MillerCoors

We have been fortunate to have our CEO be one of our strongest allies. Sustainability is part of our overall company strategy and is one of the five platforms that will help us become America's best beer company.

Nanette Lockwood, global director, climate policy, Ingersoll Rand Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

Product management because they look to us for market leadership opportunities. Our climate commitment has positioned us as a global leader with respect to refrigerant transition and demonstrates to our businesses how bold commitments can lead to growth opportunities.

Brandy M. Wilson, global sustainability director, CH2M

My best internal ally is our senior vice president for innovation and sustainability, who also serves on our Board of Directors.

Our board and senior leadership are committed to CH2M’s promise of sustainable solutions and corporate citizenship, and the link my ally provides between my program’s work on-the-ground and our company’s chief strategists makes our program business-relevant, and therefore, sustainable.

Jenny McColloch — director, restaurant sustainability, McDonald's

At the global level, our sustainability team partners with many branches of our global business. For example, our recent participation in the White House American Business Act on Climate Pledge involved input from many groups, such as supply chain, restaurant innovation and operations and corporate communications.

Some of the most important allies in our work that I’m personally inspired by are the local sustainability champions across McDonald’s system who are driving innovation at the country and city levels. McDonald’s U.K.’s Planet Champions crew engagement program has been adopted across several European countries, and McDonald’s UAE’s logistics program recently reached the 5 million kilometer milestone with its closed loop biodiesel program (see its new video to explain how it works

I love hearing from our environment lead in Sweden with periodic Twitter updates about the popularity of McDonald’s Sweden’s EV chargers network with our customers there. And, of course, we wouldn’t be where we are without the leadership of our restaurant owner-operators, who are supporting their communities with green building efforts and connecting with customers through programs like "Good Neighbor, Good Grounds" used coffee grounds recycling. As anyone working in sustainability knows, it takes a village.

Dave Stangis, vice president — public affairs and corporate responsibility, Campbell Soup Company; president, Campbell Soup Foundation

Chief procurement officer. This person and role has been critical to our sustainability journey and they have moved from running the other direction when they saw me coming to working with me to identify longer-term risks — and position them as opportunities.

They have also come to view the discipline as a key risk reduction strategy and have put resources and accountability behind it.

Jenny Cross, vice president corporate sustainability, Mohawk Industries

The success or failure of our environmental sustainability initiatives rests mostly within our manufacturing facilities, so I would have to say our operations teams. The alliance is frankly a natural one since these teams are so dedicated to continuous improvement, increased efficiencies and lean manufacturing.

What I’ve been most impressed with is the level of enthusiasm shown for sustainability. Initiatives require resources and resources are often quite tight, but our operations teams get it and make it happen. They truly see the value and realize the benefits that come from running a sustainable business. They make my job a pleasure.       

Kathrin Winkler, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer, EMC

One of the biggest advocates of our sustainability initiatives is our global head of HR. Our missions are not only aligned, but mutually reinforcing. Opportunities to make a difference in creating a sustainable future help engage our colleagues, and the innovation on which progress in sustainability depends comes out of more engaged and diverse workforce.

We have representatives on each other’s working groups, and she sits on our executive sustainability council.

Above all, we are both passionate about making people’s lives better and are gratified when we can do something that generates a smile in another person.

Anisa Kamadoli Costa, chief sustainability officer, Tiffany & Co.

CFO. When you find a clear way to link sustainability to value creation, they can be your best ally — and they can help fund critical projects.

Laura Bishop, vice president, public affairs and sustainability, Best Buy

At Best Buy, we are very fortunate to have the complete support and encouragement of our executive leadership team for our corporate responsibility and sustainability efforts.

Their endorsement is further reinforced by a broad network of advocates who hold leadership positions across our company — from finance to marketing to an internal sustainability advisory council representing a cross-section of Best Buy management.

Laurel Peacock, senior manager, sustainability, NRG Energy

Business operations manager.  He sees the business value of sustainability and can enroll others given that he has "street cred" coming from the operations side of the business.

He also knows the org structure so well that if I ask him a question which he doesn’t have the answer for, he likely knows who will.  

Deborah Hecker, vice president, sustainability and corporate social responsibility, Sodexo North America

Our Better Tomorrow Plan Executive Advisory Committee and, especially, the vice presidents of operations from each of our business segments. These are the several executives who have sufficient knowledge and passion to act as champions at the senior leadership levels of the organization.

They get time on agendas for sustainability topics; they include practices and processes into their operating standards; and they provide success stories from their businesses that we can share and replicate across the enterprise.

Jeff Rehm, LEED-GA, senior manager corporate facilities and global sustainability, W.W. Grainger

Whether it is a corporate office or in our distribution centers, our facilities managers are great to work with. They have a tremendous amount of practical knowledge and ideas around reducing energy consumption.

They are also always eager to try new things, like renewable energy, at their facilities.

Susan Rochford, VP, energy efficiency, sustainability and public policy, Legrand, North America

VP, strategic sourcing — who is completely aligned on the necessity of supplier collaboration to achieve product sustainability goals and is willing to act upon it.