"Green" is proving its sustainability
Software companies, hardware companies, public utilities and more have all become advocates for green
Jobs with titles ranging from "environmental engineer" to "chief corporate sustainability officer" are showing up in strength
By Jon Boroshok
These days, good corporate citizenship and marketability are increasingly finding common ground. More and more companies appreciate both the economics and the public appeal of sustainability, and actively seek opportunities to go green. Many are viewing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the green building certification program) as an important step on the path to profitability.
Software companies, hardware companies, public utilities and more are becoming green advocates. Titles ranging from "environmental engineer" to "chief corporate sustainability officer" are showing up in strength. The people interviewed for this article, whether or not they have these titles, are doing great work in green sustainability.
Kelly Shea is sustainability manager at Symantec
Today Kelly Shea is the global sustainability program manager for workplace solutions at Symantec (Mountain View, CA). But she started out to be an architect.
Shea completed a BS in design with a business minor at Arizona State University in 2002. After college she worked as a designer at Gensler Architects (San Francisco, CA). But she soon realized that the design field wasn't right for her.
She moved into project management at CB Richard Ellis (San Francisco, CA), a real estate company, working on the Northern California Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) account. She managed hundreds of projects in data center design and equipment upgrades, generator replacements, elevator upgrades and more. Her architecture background made buildings operations her area of expertise.
Shea joined Symantec in 2008 and went to work on developing a global sustainability program. She did a greenhouse gas inventory, and handled LEED certification, energy management, water reduction and waste diversion projects. In the time she's been at Symantec the company has grown from one to eighteen LEED-certified buildings, plus thirteen Energy Star buildings. One Energy Star building is a data center, among the first in the U.S. to be certified. Energy Star commercial buildings, Shea explains, use 35 percent less energy and generate one-third less CO2 than conventional buildings of the same size.
Shea is responsible for Symantec's global sustainability workplace solutions and greenhouse gas emission solutions. She heads the Symantec Eco-Board, which drives strategy, research and policies for process improvement, program oversight, education, reporting and more for all the company's global sustainability initiatives, and oversees more than six million square feet of space.
She also facilitates cross-functional program work with corporate areas like global facilities management, real estate, security, business continuity and disaster recovery, corporate social responsibility, IT, marketing, HR, green teams and more. In fact, the collaborative nature of the job is one of her favorite aspects, and also the most challenging.
"People define and value sustainability in different ways," says Shea. "Sometimes getting people on the same page about what sustainability means to Symantec isn't easy."
Shea is working toward her MBA in sustainable enterprise at Dominican University (San Rafael, CA). And she's seeing her efforts pay off: Symantec's global sustainability program received the 2011 business environmental award for sustainability from Action for a Healthy Planet (Acterra, www.acterra.org), a nonprofit with a history of environmental programming in and around Silicon Valley.
Shea thinks that new regulations around the world will create more jobs as corporations get serious about reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.
Understanding the relationships among global ecological, economic and social systems is essential, she says. The MBA sustainability classes she's taken have helped her see the broader picture.
Cecily Joseph, Symantec's director of corporate responsibility, adds that the company "continues to demonstrate its leadership in environmental sustainability through key initiatives, as well as recognition by top environmental organizations.
"As part of our ongoing corporate responsibility efforts, Symantec remains committed to maintaining a diverse and ethical workforce instrumental in developing effective solutions for our customers and partners all over the world."
Intel's Keri Carkeek: using technology to address environmental issues
At Intel (Santa Clara, CA), Keri Carkeek was recently chief of staff for a corporate VP, managing the corporate sustainability group responsible for aligning Intel's global environmental strategy.
Today she works as an eco-technology strategist in Intel's eco-technology program office. Her job is to find and develop opportunities for revenue-growing projects that use technology to address environmental issues. Part of the job is looking at international opportunities to see how Intel can positively affect an entire region.
Carkeek started in ecology early. At Evergreen State College (Olympia, WA) she completed a nontraditional program that combined hardcore science and arts, and as part of her program she interned with the Washington State Department of Ecology. When the internship came to her attention, she says, it seemed like a good chance to learn new skills.
After graduation Carkeek worked as a consultant on Department of Defense (DOD) contracts for environmental and process improvement projects at the DOD's environmental and natural resources division at Fort Lewis (Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA).
She wrote Army regulations on training to minimize impact on wildlife, and found ways to improve the management of the division's waste program. The job taught her project management, she says.
But after five years it was time for a change. She moved to Intel in Portland, OR in 1997, and was out of environmental work for the next twelve years. Instead, she worked at the company's Hillsboro, OR site as a program manager for development of server and workstation chipsets, and moved on to operational management jobs boosting productivity in chipset development and silicon validation. She spent three years as tech assistant to the VP of a business group of about 1,700 employees spanning five countries.
Today Carkeek is back to ecology as an eco-technology program strategist.
Her passion for the environment is reignited, and she's excited about being involved with a new Intel site that's being built as all LEED-certified. She's also working with local businesses to help them meet environmental sustainability goals. "We're not going to run out of projects," she says happily.
"As a parent and member of the community I wanted to do something right for the environment," says Carkeek. In the end it came down to her daughter Amalia: "I wanted to be able to tell her that I am doing something to help change the world."
Paul Otellini, Intel president and CEO, points out that "Development of energy-efficient computing technologies is a key part of our efforts to help our customers conserve energy and address the issue of climate change. It's our effort to operate with the gentlest footprint possible to improve environmental sustainability."
Rosalind Hudnell, Intel's chief diversity officer, adds that the company believes its vision of becoming the industry leader in diversity "will result in a better understanding of our customers' needs and better products tailored to those needs."
At 3M, Mai-Chi Doan supports window films
Mai-Chi Doan is a manufacturing technology specialist in the renewable energy division of 3M (St. Paul, MN). "I have a special interest in film technology," says Doan. "I moved from the optical system division to window film." Both divisions produce "green" light and energy management products. Window films prevent energy loss in today's multi-windowed big buildings.
It's Doan's job to provide manufacturing engineering support to the window film business. She works with sales, marketing and the supply chain to forecast demand for raw materials and related items, and she works with product, process and quality engineers during production for quality improvement.
The goal is to make these energy-saving products more sustainable themselves. "My projects include cost improvements, new product qualifications and source-of-supply optimizations," says Doan. One 3M product, Night Vision, is a film treatment for windows that helps provide buildings with privacy as well as energy efficiency. She also helped develop a new film that saves energy in TV monitors.
Doan left her native Vietnam when she was halfway through college. Since high school, she'd been interested in chemistry, math and science, and like many of her friends, Doan came to the U.S. to study in technical fields. She went to the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, completing a BSEE with distinction in 1984.
While in school she worked as a tech aide at Honeywell, and after graduation she started as a system engineer in process instrumentation and control systems at 3M. She's been with the company for twenty-six years now, growing and exploring different technologies and products.
She's also taken advantage of education benefits at 3M, completing an MS program in manufacturing engineering at the University of Saint Thomas (St. Paul, MN) in 1998 and QA engineer certification training at Century College (White Bear Lake, MN) in 2004.
3M has recently started Team Vietnam in the U.S. to support 3M's operations in Vietnam, a growing market. So Doan even has the occasional opportunity to use her native language at work.
She says that after so many years her co-workers are like family, and she's seen that family grow more diverse during her tenure.
Doan has received a number of achievement awards from 3M. She wants to stay in manufacturing, and advises aspiring engineers, including her teenaged daughters, to take lots of math and science classes. "Be flexible. Be well-versed. Be aware of adjacent technology," says Doan. "Be quick and agile with technology trends and network with other techies any chance you have."
CE Margaret Hunter is water conservation lead at American Water
At Rowan University (now Glassboro State College, Glassboro, NJ) Margaret Hunter went into CE, and a water-treatment class was her favorite. One of her adjunct professors worked at American Water (Voorhees, NJ) and recommended her for a job there. She got her BSCE from Rowan in 2002 and has been with American Water ever since. She went on to a 2009 MS in engineering management from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, taking many of the courses online.
Today Hunter is water conservation committee lead at American Water, guiding the utility's subsidiaries in planning water conservation projects cost effectively, leveraging engineering and operating experience gained from her involvement with American Water's conservation-related projects. She also helps plan water systems with adequate distribution for future demand.
She's been instrumental in redefining the budgeting process for water sales forecasting for eighteen of the company's state subsidiaries, impacting the supply of more than 200 billion gallons of water. It's one of her favorite parts of the job: "There's a lot you can do. Our company has made great strides," says Hunter.
Hunter looks forward to doing and publishing more research. Conservation work has evolved over the years, creating lots of opportunities that have helped shape her career path, she says. And she credits American Water with providing a great working environment.
Sean Burke, HRVP at American Water, notes that "Our diversity and inclusion strategy focuses on improving gender and cultural diversity at all levels of the company.
"Today's new water reality presents challenges to the entire water and wastewater industry, from climate variability and aging infrastructure to increasing water quality regulation and changes in water demand.
"A strategic approach to corporate responsibility that helps American Water address each issue from a sustainability perspective has never been more important. We are at the forefront of research, developing solutions such as water reuse and desalination to help ensure a sustainable water future for our customers. Our employees are the ones to make that happen."
Nicole Hoover is a quality engineer at Westinghouse
Nicole Hoover went to Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA) for her 2007 BSCE and MS in civil and environmental engineering with a concentration in green design. Then she went to work as an engineer in the wet-weather group of Metcalf & Eddy (now AECOM, Pittsburgh, PA).
She worked on cost-effective ways to improve water quality and comply with environmental regulations, helped develop alternatives, and did planning cost analysis and generated deliverables for a drainage study for a storm-water management project.
In 2008 she joined Westinghouse Electric Company (Cranberry Township, PA). Her current team supports several engineering departments, and as quality engineer she works with the corrective-actions system.
Environmental engineering makes good sense to Hoover. "It's about being a good steward," she says. "If we pollute endlessly, we won't have anything left to admire."
Hoover has managed a design project for a reinforced concrete shield building for a nuclear plant, providing her deliverables on or ahead of project schedule. She developed and maintained department schedules, budgets and resources by preparing schedule and baseline changes, hiring forecasts, cost estimate analyses, training records and project plans.
She also provides technical guidance to environmental engineering through a "global growth and innovation" project related to corporate sustainability strategy and employee awareness. She developed the environmental objectives and design approach for a future sustainable plant design.
When Westinghouse recently moved its headquarters from Monroeville, PA to Cranberry Township the company took the opportunity to convert its old paper files to electronic files. This created six tons of surplus binders; Hoover and a team arranged to donate them to area schools and charities, helping others and saving landfill space.
Hoover is looking forward to future opportunities to research and work on sustainable projects. "Writing and presenting well is imperative," she says.
John Orfanopoulos, manager of talent acquisition for Westinghouse, notes that "Our ability to realize the benefits of a diverse corporate population lets us provide service to customers on a global basis."
Samantha Cage: sustainability is part of the Walmart culture
Samantha Cage always loved electronics and video games; she put her first computer together herself. When she graduated from Lane College (Jackson, TN) in 2009 with a BSCS, an advisor suggested that she apply to Walmart (Bentonville, AR).
Cage was surprised. "I thought that meant cashier or stock boy!" she says. But when she looked into the company she saw there was a lot more to it, liked what she saw and went to work at Walmart immediately after graduation.
Two years later Cage became a senior systems admin, involved with video, Web and teleconferencing support. Through her group's efforts Walmart reduced time and money spent traveling for meetings and training. That savings translates to a smaller carbon footprint, Cage points out.
The team creates playbooks for executive onsite meetings and manages more than 700 domestic and international videoconferencing endpoints. They've also assisted in the development of improved Web conferencing for all users in the U.S.
Cage was recently promoted to business analyst with Walmart's information systems division, where she's on the Sam's Club infrastructure relationship management team.
Cage says she's constantly learning new aspects of technology. "I do the same thing every day, but it's never just the same," she says. "Each call or case is different and I love helping people."
Cage also loves being challenged, and sees herself as "a piece of coal becoming a diamond." When she started she was given a mentor to help learn the team's routine as well as new technology. It paid off, and Cage was selected to assist with an off-site meeting of the board of directors, something she's very proud of.
She looks forward to growing with the company as she learns more about it. "There are so many opportunities here at Walmart," she says.
Sharon Wibben, HRVP for Walmart's IS division, notes that "Sustainability is part of the culture of Walmart and lives within our business. Our efforts in the IS division include reducing power usage by making changes to thousands of computer workstations. Our sustainability efforts also include recycling, reducing paper use and waste, along with an overall effort to reduce the size and scope of the materials we send to our stores and clubs.
"We believe sustainability makes good business sense and is a huge opportunity to make important differences in the lives of our customers, the communities we serve and the world we all share."
Walmart also values diversity in its workforce, Wibben says. "We believe in diversity in every way. We believe that diversity of background, thought, skills and experience enhance the workplace and benefit the company and our associates."
Laura Nelson: sustainable packaging for EMC
As a consulting packaging engineer for data and storage equipment maker EMC (Hopkinton, MA), Laura Nelson says it's her job to "put the sheet metal around technology." Reporting directly to the ME manager, she directs packaging for revenue shipments. She also works on the supply side for shipments coming in.
Her mission is to minimize packaging size and weight for sustainability and design efficiency. The job can be challenging, as some products need a good deal of protection while others are quite durable. She's had two packaging designs that led to patent applications.
In college at Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY), Nelson liked the business side but also took lots of math and science. Packaging seemed to be a combination of these disciplines, and in 1983 she completed a BS in packaging science.
Her first job was at Raytheon (Waltham, MA), working on Hawk and Patriot missiles. She was there for ten years, through the first Gulf War. Part of the time she was based in Newport, RI, where she met her husband, an officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve.
After the Gulf War Nelson and her husband moved to the Midwest where she worked for Outboard Marine Corp, makers of Johnson and Evinrude boat engines. Eventually the couple moved back east and Nelson joined Clariion as a packaging engineer. Clariion was later bought by EMC.
At EMC today Nelson works with products and people in Massachusetts, North Carolina, China, India and Ireland. She notes that time has brought both diversity and progress: a female techie is well accepted in packaging now.
Nelson is involved with the Institute of Packaging Professionals (www.iopp.org) and the International Safe Transit Association (www.ista.org), and has written and presented papers on packaging on behalf of EMC.
Kathrin Winkler, who is VP, corporate sustainability and chief sustainability officer with EMC, reflects that "The transformation to a sustainable economy will be deeply dependent on innovations in the way we think, the way we conduct business and the way we live. Virtually any job can be 'green,' and when people like Laura Nelson incorporate not only economic but environmental and social values and costs into their decision-making, they become the creators of innovations that will drive the future."
Jackie Glenn, chief diversity officer at EMC, adds that "By driving diversity and inclusion as part of the fabric of our business, we believe we contribute to the sustainability of our global society's economic growth and wellbeing."
EE Shelly E. Warms is on GE's home energy management team
Shelly Warms works in Appliance Park, KY as a systems engineer for R&D software apps on the home energy management team at General Electric (GE, Fairfield, CT). She interned with GE in college, and she's worked at the company since she completed her BSEE at the University of Dayton (Dayton, OH) in 2001.
Warms started with GE's six-month rotational training program and went on to a lead engineer job. She worked first with dishwashers, then ranges, where she designed changes in software and electronics to improve quality.
She cut back to part-time work while starting a family, then returned to full time just as GE was expanding its home energy management team. Now she's a systems engineer on the team, scoping out new features to improve energy efficiency. It's a smart-grid approach that lets customers reduce energy use and/or shift the electrical use load, Warms points out with pride.
She notes that GE is continually improving products to be greener, working toward "Net Zero Energy Homes" through "ecomagination," a green business strategy the company launched in 2005.
John Ouseph, technology manager for the home energy management team, says the team's work is an opportunity to solve really tough problems with innovations that bring growth and environmental benefits to businesses and people. GE's diverse, inclusive culture "fosters a limitless source of ideas, opportunities and innovation," he points out.
One of the things Warms likes best about this strategy and her job is that it's applicable to everyday people. "We're trying to do something good for the environment and helping people save money at the same time," she says.
DIVERSITY-MINDED COMPANIES WITH A GREEN FOCUS
Check websites for current openings.
|Company and location
|3M Company (St. Paul, MN)
|American Water (Voorhees, NJ)
|Water and wastewater services
|EMC (Hopkinton, MA)
|Technology for information storage, management, protection and analysis
|General Electric (Fairfield, CT)
|Advanced technology, services and finance
|Intel Corp (Santa Clara, CA)
|Symantec (Mountain View, CA)
|Software for information security and management
|Texas Instruments (Dallas, TX)
|Wal-Mart Stores, Inc (Bentonville, AR)
|Westinghouse Electric Co
(Cranberry Township, PA)
|Fuel, services and technology for the commercial nuclear power industry
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