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Women in CSR: Kim Marotta, MillerCoors

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.

Kim Marotta: I am Director of Sustainability for MillerCoors, the second-largest beer company in America. I joined Miller Brewing Company in 2004 to help build the company’s sustainability department and long-term sustainable business plan.

At MillerCoors, we believe that with great beer comes great responsibility, and as Director of Sustainability, my focus is ensuring that we turn those words into actions throughout our operations. I work with our commercial teams to integrate responsibility and environmental stewardship messages into our marketing campaigns and collaborate with our retailers on ways to engage beer drinkers on sustainability. A recent example is our Coors Recycles program, which we launched nationally in partnership with Recyclebank. We developed special packaging to educate consumers and encourage them to recycle. This packaging was on display at retail locations across the country.

Another of MillerCoors key focus areas is water stewardship, and I’m heavily involved in our efforts to reduce water use throughout our supply chain and brewery processes.

3p: How has the sustainability program evolved at your company?

KM: As Miller Brewing Company, the company’s sustainability commitments were owned by a small team and we were tasked with finding ways to improve the environment outside of our operations. Since the joint venture between SABMiller and Molson Coors in 2008, MillerCoors has really focused on integrating sustainability at a deeper level throughout the company. Now, our commitments are truly owned by our employees, from the boardroom to the brewery floor. Our employees are the driving force of our progress toward our sustainability goals. Most recently, their efforts helped us achieve our greatest water reductions in company history and landfill-free status at our Golden, Colo., brewery – which is the largest brewery in the U.S.!

We constantly look internally for ways to operate more sustainably. A great example is our work with barley farmers. We discovered that more than 90 percent of our water usage occurs in our agricultural supply chain. So, we teamed with The Nature Conservancy and our barley growers in Idaho’s Silver Creek Valley to develop a Showcase Barley Farm that implements a suite of best water management practices. So far, we’ve saved more than 270 million gallons of water over two growing seasons --- that’s enough water to meet the needs of a family of four for nearly 1,850 years. It’s been so successful that we’re expanding our partnership to areas in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming.

3p: Tell us about someone (mentor, sponsor, friend, hero) who affected your sustainability journey, and how.

KM: Sue Clark was Director of Corporate Affairs at SABMiller, our parent company when I joined Miller Brewing Company. While SABMiller was building its London presence, Sue was creating a long-term vision for the company’s sustainability strategies. She thought about the topic differently and I think her approach was visionary. She built a cross-functional team and recruited the right people to help drive SABMiller’s status as a global leader on sustainability issues. A great example of her long-term vision is the water footprinting SABMiller performed. The company evaluated the long-term water risks within its supply chain and teamed up with local communities to mediate those risks for all water users.

She set the bar high, and her vision for sustainability at SABMiller set the pace for ours at Miller Brewing Company. We began measuring our performance against the global benchmarks she put in place and when we developed our sustainability goals, we focused on long-term outcomes. Following the joint venture, company leadership actually strengthened our commitment to sustainability and gave it a place in our own vision to create America’s best beer company. As a result, we’ve made incredible progress in the last five years, driving down water use across the company to a record low 3.5 barrels of water per barrel of beer we brew. We recently released our 2013 Sustainability Report, Brewing for Good, which details those successes and really demonstrates the top-down commitment to sustainability we enjoy at MillerCoors.

3p: What is the best advice you have ever received?

KM: When I graduated from undergrad with a marketing degree, I was really unsure what I wanted to do next. On graduation day, my dad gave me my first word processor and attached a note to it – he’d typed “Go to law school.” I did, and continuing my education turned out to be great advice.

I believe that continuing education and skill building is so valuable. It’s one of things I love about working at MillerCoors. We offer continuing education courses to employees through our award-winning MillerCoors University. Last year, employees logged nearly 250,000 hours.

3p: Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of?

KM: Collaboration is a vital component of success, and we’ve built strong industry partnerships and relationships with our suppliers, particularly with our barley growers. We’re currently taking what we’ve learned from Idaho’s Silver Creek Valley to the San Luis Valley in Colorado. We’re starting small and working to establish credibility and evaluate the specific needs of the area. During my last trip to the San Luis Valley, it was clear that we’re starting to make progress: we’re building relationships with growers in the area and they’ve expressed an interest in working together to develop water savings best practices for the region. It’s inspiring to see change happening.

3p: If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be?

KM: Across our industry, we need to strengthen collaboration on responsibility initiatives. Drunk driving is 100 percent preventable, but we still have too many drunk driving incidents in our communities. We need to scale up collaboration between alcohol companies, NGOs, local law enforcement and traffic safety departments, and community leaders. We’ve witnessed the positive influence that education and alternative transportation programs have on decreasing incidences of drunk driving, but in order to truly eradicate it, more work needs to be done across all boundaries.

3p: Describe your perfect day.

KM: I love being a mom, and I have four wonderful kids. Honestly, my perfect day is spending time with them doing the things they love. Right now, I’m looking forward to football season. My son plays on the high school football team, and every time I drive through the school’s entrance for Friday night football games I’m wowed by the team spirit and sense of community. It has an incredible small-town America feel and it’s one my favorite things to do.

MillerCoors invests in the areas where we operate to help keep that sense of community alive. For me, whether it’s enjoying the local football game or working on a local issue in our brewery communities, that connection is what gets me excited.

Andrea Newell headshotAndrea Newell

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 andrea.g.newell@gmail.com and @anewell3p on Twitter.

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