Welcome to our series of interviews with leading female CSR practitioners where we are learning about what inspires these women and how they found their way to careers in sustainability. Read the rest of the series here.
TriplePundit: Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the business.
Jacquie Ottman: I’m the founder and principal of J. Ottman Consulting, Inc. We’re a marketing consulting firm founded in 1989 that advises businesses and government agencies on strategies for helping meet consumer needs sustainably. Some of our clients include Johnson and Johnson, Ingersoll Rand, and the USDA Certified Biobased labelling program. I’ve written extensively on effective green marketing strategies. My latest books are The New Rules of Green Marketing, and a co-authored e-book, How to Make Credible Green Marketing Claims: What Marketers Need to Know about the Updated FTC Green Guides.
3p: How has the sustainability program evolved at your company?
JO: We recently launched a new initiative entitled, WeHateToWaste.com. As the name implies, it’s an online global community of consumers who are motivated to prevent waste, conserve resources and get the most from the products they buy (and all those embedded resources they contain!) Why are we doing this? We recognize that meeting consumer needs sustainably takes a lot more than buying greener products. They need to be used in a more ethical way (e.g., Making sure the water’s off when you brush with that Tom’s of Maine toothpaste.)
3p: Tell us about someone (mentor, sponsor, friend, hero) who affected your sustainability journey, and how.
JO: Growing up, my Dad used to cut pieces of scrap paper down to a uniform size and staple them together to make the little pads he was always leaving notes to himself on. Of course, he wrote the notes with pencils that he sharpened down to a nub and bundled together with a rubberband. I was fascinated with this behavior, wondered why he did it, and found myself at a young age doing the same kind of quirky things. I’m convinced I inherited his waste-hating genes!
JO: Be yourself. As much as I enjoy writing about green marketing strategies (and digging up all those case examples I’m known for), I’m having so much fun melding my personal side with my professional life. So authentic and feels so good. I don’t even mind if people think I’m quirky. (Maybe I am?)
3p: Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of?
JO: We created our first white paper of insights into food waste that we’ve culled from our WeHateToWaste.com community. So we’re taking the first steps to create new knowledge from all the comments and polling of our community and sharing it more broadly. In fact, TriplePundit shared some of our learning in a recent article.
3p: If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be?
JO: I’d love to see all green marketers encourage responsible consumption of their products, i.e., during use, after use (recycling, etc.) and disposal, in addition to just touting product benefits.
3p: Describe your perfect day.
JO: I love to solve tough problems. So a perfect day would be leading a client in a brainstorm about ways their consumers can reduce waste in some exciting, new and profitable way.
Andrea Newell has more than ten years of experience designing, developing and writing ERP e-learning materials for large corporations in several industries. She was a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers and a contract consultant for companies like IBM, BP, Marathon Oil, Pfizer, and Steelcase, among others. She is a writer and former editor at TriplePundit and a social media blog fellow at The Story of Stuff Project. She has contributed to In Good Company (Vault's CSR blog), Evolved Employer, The Glass Hammer, EcoLocalizer and CSRwire. She is a volunteer at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can reach her at email@example.com and @anewell3p on Twitter.