Speaking to student groups is absolutely one of the greatest parts of my job. The students are always so inspiring, often quite challenging, and sometimes the source of great ideas. But the most common question they ask is really quite mundane: "What is it you actually do when you come to work?"
I've blogged about this before, and much to my surprise, my blog entry with the greatest longevity has been the one from several years back called "A Day in the Life". Since I haven't blogged for 3 months (yes, I am ashamed), I thought I'd try to encapsulate what was consuming my mental energy all that time with a sequel. So herewith is "A Quarter in the Life of a CSO".
And before I dive in, let me reinforce that this is what I, Kathrin, have been busy doing for the last quarter. It is not what EMC has done - which is far, far more. The people who are really giving the lion's share of the effort to transform the way we work are those in supply chain, manufacturing, engineering, environmental health & safety (EHS), facilities, logistics, legal, investor relations, IT, and more.
So with that caveat, here's a good part of what I've been up to for the Spring of 2012:
Our Carbon Disclosure Report - Deanna deserves the credit for pulling this together, along with help from Kirsten, Erin and others. She worked with our software system, tracked down and loaded all the relevant data (fortunately, the facilities data was still there!), coordinated all the content contributors and reviewers, wrote much of the verbiage (and there is a TON), managed the verification, and entered it all into the system. This is worthy of a blog all its own. (Hey - maybe we can get Deanna to write a guest entry! )
Anyway, my role was essentially 3-fold. 1) I provided the calculation for "product-in-use". This entails figuring out the algorithm (we extrapolated it from the number of each kind of disk drive shipped), finding out what reports I could get on shipments and in what format, working with hardware engineering on energy consumption data and Deanna on emissions factors, figuring out a reasonable assumption for average product lifetime (lots of spreadsheets, sensitivity analysis, data from manufacturing and services), and finally calculating it. 2) I provided some of the content, particularly around risks and opportunities, and risk management processes. Some of it was new, some was tweaked from last year. Those that touched on other people's domains (e.g., Risk Management) needed review by stakeholders. 3) I got to review every word and, with Rachel in Legal, negotiate revisions that worked for all of us.
EMC's Annual Sustainability Report - This is not just a blog in and of itself, it's a career of its own. Maybe we can get Erin, who project lead this year's report, to write about the challenges and satisfactions. And the number of people involved - oy, vey! Between content and production, it's literally dozens. And dozens. I was the sponsor of this effort - I suppose one might say the "responsible executive". The things I actually did with my own time included: write, review, plan, cajole, review and edit, select art (and eliminate the well-meaning but cringe-inducing excessive greenness), review and negotiate revisions, and review some more. I admit - that last review made me incredibly proud when I realized how far we'd come, not only in our programs, but in how we talk about them!
DJSI - Katie led the response to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index questionnaire. My roles were to 1) help ferret out and motivate the content providers, and 2) review the submissions on traditional sustainability topics for content. Katie and I also debriefed on how to make this process smoother next year.
Customers - I didn’t have any on-site customer visits last quarter, but we had some awesome conference calls with key customers that want to a) know we are committed to sustainability, b) want to collaborate to drive change, and/or c) want to be sure that our engineers (and others) know what they are going to be expecting of us. There were also calls to manage expectations about signing Codes of Conduct, and a boatload (technical term) of RFPs and supplier questionnaires with questions - no two the same - that required a response, often by tomorrow.
External groups and associations - Being a Director and Secretary of the Board of the Directors of The Green Grid is rewarding, but time-consuming. Last quarter, we had a face-to-face meeting in St. Louis in addition to our normal board and committee calls, background work, and reading. I also try to call in to the meetings of the IT Industry Council's Energy & Environment committee meetings, as well as those of the Digital Energy & Sustainability Solutions Campaign (DESSC). And these do periodically result in action items here or there, which is only fair.
Public speaking - My motivations for accepting invitations to speak vary; it may be a networking opportunity, a good forum for EMC to have a presence, an event that I wanted to attend anyway, guilt (just kidding) or, most importantly, an opportunity to engage constituencies beyond that "sustainascenti" on how sustainability plays into their discipline. Last quarter's events included a talk on resource-efficient IT on behalf of The Green Grid in Mexico and another in NYC, a panel session on sustainability in the community in Boston, a workshop on the role of IT in sustainable development at the UN with UNITAR and DESSC (with lots of good discussion on the role of Big Data!), and a panel discussion at The CMO Club. And in living up to my point at the start, I spoke with students at four different schools last quarter.
Video - I never imagined having to learn the tricks of video. And if anyone has seen any of my videos, it's hard to imagine I could claim to have learned any of them even now. Last quarter I did a short video at the Ceres conference, one during EMC's Earth Day event, an interview for a university sustainability class, and a long panel discussion hosted by Ernst & Young on the bottom-line benefits of sustainability. That was fun - it was at a real studio, with rehearsals, and makeup, close-up cameras, the works!
Investor activities - This was my third year attending EMC's Annual Shareholder meeting. When I started in my role, I had no idea the extent to which I would be exposed to corporate governance processes and challenges. This year, it was remarkably uneventful. Interesting, though, and a good opportunity to chat with members of the Board. We also had our semi-annual calls with several passionate investors, during which I updated them on what we've been doing in sustainability.
Innovation - There never seems to be enough time for real early-stage thinking around new ideas. But innovation did get some attention last quarter - EMC co-sponsored an "EcoChallenge" with the Environmental Defense Fund, Innocentive and Popular Science. I was the actual sponsor, though Ezra, with Elizabeth's help, did most of the work crafting the challenge and managing the judging. The winner will be announced soon - stay tuned! I also worked with Erin to craft the Environmental Stewardship challenge for EMC's annual Innovation Contest, and have read every entry as it has been submitted. I try to make some kind of comment on each, so people know we're really paying attention, and where appropriate, will sometimes solicit comments from subject matter experts in other groups. The contest deadline has passed, but we haven't yet selected the finalists; that process is under way. And we're still working on formulating a project that would demonstrate the ability to manage eWaste responsibility without disenfranchising the informal workforce in developing economies. Much more on this in the months to come.
Team meetings - I try not to attend meetings unless there's a clear purpose, and I cancel the ones I run if I don't have an agenda. But that still leaves plenty of meetings. I chair the Green Business Leadership, which just finished going through each group's goals for the second half of the year. I also try to attend Jim's cross-functional Energy Efficiency & Effectiveness team which, among other things, put our own IT people in front of our engineers and product managers to learn about the real challenges of managing energy efficiency in the data center. Others meetings include the risk management team, and Energy Efficiency Standards team (to be sure we have a common strategy across all the organizations we belong to).
1x1s - I meet with some people regularly to ensure alignment: my staff, my boss, my peers in the Strategy Office, EHS and Global Product Operations. I also have the honor of being a mentor - sometimes formal, sometimes not - to about a half-dozen folks. I would guess that on the average, I also have one meeting per week with someone (inside EMC or out) who is looking for career advice. And there are meetings with my peers to jointly strategize at the intersection of their domains and sustainability - business operations, pre-sales, internal audit, marketing, security, HR, facilities, etc. (Wow - typing that made me smile as I realize how far sustainability has penetrated into functions throughout the company!).
Research and writing - Quiet time for research and creation is always a challenge, and sometimes I stay home for the thinking and writing parts. Last quarter, I started doing research on how to quantify long term shareholder value creation from sustainability (and no, I don't have a good answer yet), exploring software that might help some of our more strategic initiatives, and learning about "social enterprises" and how we might leverage them to address certain types of problems. I helped draft Joe Tucci's letter for the Business Roundtable Sustainability Report, developed the first version of our Sustainability Risk Framework, and studied many documents to understand the business implications of regulatory and non-regulatory standards that are relevant to our business (including drafts of ENERGY STAR for Data Center Storage, updates on SEC rulemaking per section 1502 of Dodd-Frank and responses thereto, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, proposed changes to the Basel convention, and more.)
EMC World - I attended EMC World for the 10th year in a row, and it never ceases to amaze me. Aside from helping support the great Women of the World panel session (in a very small way), and meeting with analysts, the best part as always was being immersed in a sea of customers, and having open conversations with no sales agenda on the table.
Other cool stuff that left footprints in my calendar included calls and one meeting with my peers in other companies - always worthwhile for new ideas and a little commiseration, kicking off a "pre-assurance" project for our report (to tighten up our processes and make them more resilient and consistent), hosting Jo Anne Shatkin to speak on the current state of knowledge about environmental risks associated with use of nanomaterials, and attending the finals of the Hult Global Case Challenge at which Bill Clinton and Mohamed Yunus inspired us all.
Whew! That was cathartic. Maybe I don't feel so bad about falling behind in my blog after all :-) And if there's anything here you want to hear more about, do let me know.