Career Information From Socio-Eco Innovators

When looking for career information, students and professionals are most often looking for concrete examples of socio-eco innovators (SEIs) who have driven socio-eco innovation from inside a company.  Many of these profiles exist, but they are not as visible as many would like them to be.  So I will dedicate a post of week to do so.

In our 'Career Information From Socio-Eco Innovators', we will focus on SEIs beyond the SEIs that are members of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or Corporate Responsibility (CR) Department. Through these examples, I hope that students and aspiring SEIs will find inspiration as well as concrete ways to drive change from their current position. Driving change is easier when one is in a position of authority. However, great leaders can drive change from anywhere in the company. To demonstrate this important point, I will showcase concrete examples of SEIs who have driven change through traditional corporate roles.

Every week, I will showcase a different profile to enable you to learn more about their paths and their advice to aspiring SEIs. Our first profile, Betsy Hansen was featured in the Impact At Work Brochure from Net Impact for her work as an SEI at Sun Microsystems.  A few years ago, while a marketing manager at Sun, Betsy was assigned the organization of one of their biggest conferences, JavaOne.   She turned this project into an opportunity to showcase her abilities as an SEI. Her goal was to minimize JavaOne’s environmental impact. Her steps to success included:

Building upon her expertise
Betsy capitalized on her marketing and event planning expertise to drive socio-eco innovation at Sun. She conducted qualitative and quantitative research to ensure that switching from the traditional snail mail promotion strategy to an email and web-based promotion strategy would not impact conference attendance. Over three years, she progressively switched the JavaOne promotion strategy from paper mailings to email, while carefully monitoring the impact of their promotion distribution change on conference attendance. Email and web promotions did not have an impact on conference attendance, and led to huge results, including: 4.63 tons of paper saved, 48 tons of wood, 13 tons in solid waste reduction. In addition, when this promotion strategy succeeded for JavaOne, its procedure was implemented for other Sun events, leading to even bigger impact and results.

Partnering with organizations who aligned with her goals
Beyond the conference promotion strategy, Betsy also looked at the conference as a way to partner with companies and organizations that make a commitment to minimizing their environmental impact. This included the conference venue, as well as the hotel rooms they would block for the conference attendees. The conference organizing committee also partnered with local non-profits to enable conference attendees to use more eco-friendly transportation options to and from the conference (e.g. public transportation options, carpool, bike valet service). Throughout and after the conference, the JavaOne website included a section on the environmental efforts made and successes of the attendees and organizing committee.  Communicating your socio-eco goals and what you are doing to reach your goals is central to driving socio-eco changes in any organization.

Capitalizing on her success to expand her vision
Based on the savings and successes from the JavaOne Conference, the whole company became more proactive in evaluating and reducing its environmental impact. In her own words, Betsy reported that “It’s been amazing to be able to lead the efforts to increase sustainability for the JavaOne conference, and be seen as a resource for other folks within Sun and people in the industry who are trying to change the way they market events.”

By leveraging her expertise in marketing and event planning and adopting a progressive approach to change, Betsy carefully designed and implemented a winning strategy that had a dramatic impact on a major conference’s footprint. While transitioning from aspiring to actual SEI, what career information was most helpful to you? I look forward to your comments and to continuing this conversation.

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