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Names in the News

Nestlé, Danone appoint new heads of sustainability; Salesforce, Amazon make big moves

Along with Biden’s appointees, green finance leaders and movement from our 2020 30 under 30s.


Top row: Bonita Stewart; Jacob Arlein; Gina McCarthy; Stephanie Potter. Middle row: Catherine Musulin; Leslie Hushka; Andrew Steer; Gayle Taite. Bottom row: Roger Martella; Santiago Gowland; Opal Tomato; Jigat Shah; Tracy Stone-Manning.

Vaccines are up, COVID-19 cases are down and summer is almost here. By most accounts, things are looking up and people are hopeful. With the return of some stability and normalcy (at least in the United States), sustainable professionals are making career moves that often reflect the emerging themes of the past year. 

There’s a renewed focus on environmental, sustainability and governance roles, green finance positions have rocketed to the top of priority lists and President Joe Biden’s inauguration has invigorated sustainability back into national politics.

Big moves

Among the strategic sustainability hires this quarter, three were at large food companies. Stephanie Potter, previously at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation overseeing sustainability and circular economy, is now head of sustainability strategy at Nestlé USA. At Danone, Catherine Musulin started as director for sustainability. Meanwhile, U.S. canned tuna mammoth Bumble Bee hired Leslie Hushka from ExxonMobil as its senior vice president of global corporate responsibility. 

Large tech companies are also adding more sustainability leaders. General Electric named Roger Martella as its first CSO. Salesforce added a director of ocean sustainability, Whitney Johnston, who will harness impact investing, policy influence and philanthropy to protect oceans. Andrew Steer is leaving the World Resources Institute to become president and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund (as in Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame).

Over at Google, Bonita C. Steward, former vice president of global partnerships, joined the board of Volta Industries, an EV charging company. And former Google and L’Oréal executive Gayle Tait became president and COO at circular shopping innovator Trove, which powers returns for fashion brands such as Levi’s, Patagonia and REI.

Stok, a sustainability consulting, energy and engineering firm for commercial real estate, made three big hiring changes: Jacob Arlein is the new CEO; founder Matt Macko is transitioning to chief strategy officer; and Devon Bertram is rising up as vice president of sustainability consulting. 

Some other top-level notable hires include:

  • Emily Olson as director and sustainability ambassador for Sustana, a recycled fiber and paper manufacturer. 
  • Alisa Praskovich as vice president of sustainability at Crowley Maritime Corporation, the shipping and logistics company.
  • François Souchet left the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to join BPCM, a brand and communications agency as head of sustainability and impact.
  • Katie Boylan was promoted to executive vice president and chief communications officer at Target where her expanded responsibilities include social responsibility and sustainability initiatives. 
  • Gary Albertson took over as president for the utility division for North America at Suez, a leading provider of environmental services.
  • Nick McCulloch was promoted to director of sustainability at Rubicon, the "smart" waste platform.
  • Vanessa Butani will take on the role of vice president of group sustainability at Electrolux, the kitchen appliance manufacturer.

Renewed focus on ESG roles

As the dust settles and we get some distance from a year focused on health, safety, government interventions and racial upheaval, it’s obvious why companies are creating new ESG roles.

Semtech, the semiconductor manufacturer, appointed its first ESG officer, Charles B. Ammann. Law firm Kirkland and Ellis hired Sara Orr as a partner in the ESG and impact practice group. Medallia, a human resources employee management platform, named René Carayol as executive vice president of ESG. Tax giant Ernst and Young hired Orlan Boston as Americas ESG Markets leader, Velislava Ivanova as Americas CSO and Megan Hobson as U.S. corporate sustainability leader.

Money makes the green go around

Green finance is making a splash with people realizing they need to put their money where their mouths are.

North Sky Capital, the impact capital investor, hired Angela Wood as CFO after her time at Sawtooth Solutions and Mill City Capital. Continuing the trend of ESG focus into green finance, credit union Truliant brought on Veronica Calderon as its first senior vice president of diversity, inclusion and equity. Private equity investor KKR is focusing on the global energy transition by hiring company veterans Tim Short and Benoit Allehaut as managing directors and Benjamin Droz as a principal to focus on sourcing renewable energy solutions for North America. On the other side of the pond, Anne-Sophie Castelnau was appointed ING’s global head of sustainability. 

Biden’s America

Five months past the inauguration, it really feels like we are living in Biden’s America. Case in point: There was a full-day White House climate change summit on Earth Day. Beyond that, many important appointments show the Biden administration is taking climate change seriously, and it’s rubbing off on the states.

First and most momentous was the appointment of Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe and the first person of Native American descent to hold the position. In addition, Tracy Stone-Manning was nominated by Biden (not yet confirmed by Congress) to serve as director of the Bureau of Land Management

Biden also nominated Groundswell CEO Michelle Moore to the board of directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Gina McCarthy became the first White House national climate advisor. And Jigar Shah, co-founder and president at Generate Capital, reports to Jennifer Granholm, the 16th energy secretary. John Kerry is serving as the first United States special presidential envoy for climate. We can’t help but brag that they also all recently spoke at or were represented at GreenBiz events. 

In California, Edna Murphy became deputy executive officer for internal operations and office of information services for the California Air Resources Board (CARB). And Gov. Gavin Newsom announced TransForm executive director Darnell Grisby’s appointment to the California Transportation Commission.

Turning a nonprofit

Nonprofits are attracting new talent as they try to influence the private sector to affect change. The Rainforest Alliance brought on Santiago Gowland as CEO after a stint at The Nature Conservancy, following roles at Unilever and Nike. A Greener World, the sustainable agriculture organization, named Emily Moose executive director. Holly Spangler Beale started a position as a member of the American Forests board of directors. And Opal Tometi, Black Lives Matter co-founder, has joined the board of directors for the International Living Future Institute, a nonprofit creating the greenest buildings for our future world. 

Our babies are growing up

I also checked in on our 30 Under 30 honorees from 2020 to see if any had new career developments. And of course, some did.

Prerna Chatterjee became global sustainability manager at BASF, the German chemical company. Katerina Fragos is exploring how to engage Netflix’s millions of subscribers in environmental change as the media giant’s sustainability and consumer adviser. Kiera O'Brien made her way into government as a legislative correspondence manager and special legislative projects aide for Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska). And Priya Mulgaonkar became a project manager helping to shape neighborhoods by the communities who live in them at Hester Street, an urban planning nonprofit. 

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