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How to Put Sustainability in Any Corporate Job: New Guide Shares Stories from the Field

| Tuesday February 15th, 2011 | 0 Comments

We’ve enjoyed a close relationship with Net Impact over the years and are excited to help them present their new career guide: Corporate Careers That Make a Difference. The new guide looks at how working professionals are bringing corporate citizenship to otherwise “conventional” jobs.

The personal stories featured in the guide get tend to get started something like this:  “A campus minister, a business management consultant, and a US AID worker walk into an interview.”

At a time when dedicated positions in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability are in increasingly high demand, Net Impact’s 80+ page guide sheds light on a host of additional opportunities open to those who want to pursue such work. The examples show (there are close to two dozen real-world stories packed with practical tips and advice) that it’s entirely possible to do work that makes a difference from virtually any department in a company. In fact, it’s an incredibly effective way to change a large corporation from the inside. Here’s an excerpt from the profile of Nadya Kozyreva-White, Senior Financial Analyst at Intel.

Excerpt: Corporate Careers That Make a Difference

Born and raised in Kazakhstan, Nadya Kozyreva-White has always been conscious of what can happen when long-term environmental and social priorities take a backseat to short-term thinking. Her birth country is home to the Aral Sea, once one of the largest lakes on the planet but now drained to 10% of its size, uninhabitable to marine life, and considered one of the worst natural disasters caused by man. “We had so many stakeholders involved,” Nadya says of her frustration with the Aral Sea’s prolonged destruction, “and none of those stakeholders wanted to be held accountable for this disaster.”

With the Aral Sea’s slow demise as backdrop, Nadya earned an economics degree at the state university of Kazakhstan. “Coming from an ex-communist society, I was eager to learn the market economy and its players.” The more she learned, the more she wanted to find a way to balance the finance professional’s responsibility to shareholders with environmental and social responsibility. “Being in finance, accountability to the shareholders for creating value needs to be weighed against making sure that value is long term — and not destroying the Aral Seas of the world.”

Now a Senior Financial Analst at Intel, Nadya provides business and financial support to the Global Public Policy group. This could include anything from analyzing the financial impacts of new EPA regulations on Intel’s U.S. manufacturing facilities to tracking UN principles for responsible investment criteria and sustainable portfolio investment indices.

“My primary responsibility as a finance person is to protect shareholder value,” say Nadya. “But to do that, I have to stay abreast of developments in the market. The value that finance professionals bring is in having this broader understanding of investment principles, research and benchmarking, and an independent approach to investment decisions. We can put an increased focus on, for example, socially responsible investors and the growing size of those investments and funds.”

Working within a traditional finance framework, however, poses challenges when prioritizing certain kinds of corporate citizenship projects. “What you see right now is a difficulty pushing the projects that focus on social value. It is much easier to advocate for projects that create measurable savings — whether it’s in energy, or water, or so forth — but not necessarily for projects that create longer-lasting social value.”

This challenge crystallized for Nadya when she and a colleague set out to create a valuation framework for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors to be used company wide. “Since our initial goal was to incorporate those factors into the decision-making process, we created a number of tools that help business groups assess a relative value of projects to prioritize their investments.” Those tools included a general set of guiding questions for some teams, and more specific numbers-driven frameworks for others.

Nadya’s own experiences driving social and environmental change from within a more traditional finance department highlight the need for patience and persistence. She suggests leveraging your own unique understanding of your company and its business – whatever your role might be – to complete the missing links that otherwise might derail change efforts. “Every company,” she says, “has to go through the process of identifying the best and most value-added approach for effectively developing its sustainability and corporate citizenship strategy. This creates a great opportunity for new MBAs to make a long-lasting impact.”

Want a free sneak peek of the guide from Net Impact?

Read more about Nadya and the other professionals featured in Corporate Careers That Make a Difference by downloading a free sneak peek now, or visiting Net Impact online. With more than 80 pages of stories, insights, analysis, and tips, the guide is an indispensable resource for job seekers, career changers, and anyone interested in bringing corporate citizenship into the workplace.


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