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.
Julie Urlaub: The traditional roles and responsibilities of a small business owner apply to my position as Managing Partner of Taiga Company. However, I see myself as not only the leader of a professional consulting firm helping clients to powerfully engage sustainability communications in the social media space, but as a leader in the overall business sustainability and CSR conversation. While I work with individual clients, my primary role is to promote the positive change occurring in the business world today. Leading by example. With our 35,000+ Twitter followers and robust social networks, we have a large audience that needs to be managed responsibly and Taiga Company is honored to be a contributor to the space and a voice for the future.
Taiga Company has been in business for over five years; however, personally, I've been active in the sustainability field through various employment opportunities throughout my entire professional career.
3p: How has the sustainability program evolved at your company?
JU: We originally began our business working hands-on in the implementation of sustainability concepts and strategies with individual businesses. As our presence began to grow online, we began to realize our own larger impact as a communicator of sustainability success. As a result, our business model has been expanded to include the application of these learnings to help other businesses grow their online presence, stakeholder engagement and social media strategies.
3p: Tell us about someone (mentor, sponsor, friend, hero) who affected your sustainability journey, and how.
JU: At the onset of Taiga's founding, I was reading one of John Elkington’s books. Coincidentally, I attended the inaugural Wall Street Journal ECO:NOMICS conference in which, to my delight, John Elkington sat to the right side of me in one of the first presentations. As I’ve been a big supporter of his work, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to visit. We chatted for a brief while and I left that conversation with great enthusiasm. The synchronicity of the event and his meeting left an everlasting impression upon me.
3p: What is the best advice you have ever received?
JU: Sadly, my mother passed away from breast cancer years ago. Upon her passing, she shared with me that “you can have everything in life - money, great career, family, whatever your heart desires - but - if you don't have your health, you can't enjoy any of it.” As a result, I have passionately committed my life to one of wellness and work/life balance. I’ve been active in competitive sports my entire life. Currently, I’m an Endurance Mountain Bike Racer, racing 100 mile events, 12 Hour and 24 Hour races, and multi-day stage races in events located across the country. At Taiga Company, we promote cycling as alternative transportation but also as eco inspiration. Being outside in the natural environment is a compelling way to pair the eco actions we promote with the very reason to take them - to preserve our natural resources.
3p: Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of?
JU: In answering this question, it is tempting to share some of the “bigger” success we’ve had at Taiga. Yet, the most recent accomplishment that is most meaningful to me has been working with a nonprofit in Africa regarding sustainability and social media outreach to get support for the work they are doing. It seems the “big” stories capture the attention, but I feel it is the stories and efforts that often get “overlooked” that are collectively making a big difference.
3p: If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be?
JU: My enthusiasm for social media as a change agent to inform and inspire would have me say that I would like to connect with everyone and have Taiga Company do its part in moving each person one step forward! Our mission has always been to “breathe life into business.” Social media has given us that opportunity, and we want to take full advantage.
3p: Describe your perfect day.
JU: While it may seem simple, but a perfect day is interacting with a client and knowing I have made a positive contribution to them or the advancement of sustainability in our world…and maybe finding a little bit of time to go ride my bike!!!!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and @anewell3p on Twitter.