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.
Nicole Trimble: I am the senior director of corporate responsibility at Outerwall Inc., the kiosk company that brings you products like Redbox and Coinstar. I started as the first person in this role about three years ago and lead our corporate responsibility strategy and programs. Before this position, I worked in a variety of philanthropic and service organizations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service.
While at the Gates Foundation, I became convinced that real change and impact in the social and environmental sectors had to include business. Only the private sector has the speed, scale and urgency to address some of the world’s greatest problems and it is in business’ best interest to do so.
3p: How has the sustainability program evolved at your company?
NT: Outerwall Inc. was founded as Coinstar, Inc. more than 20 years ago by Jens Molbak, an entrepreneur with a vision to build a shared value business. Although the company has changed quite a bit, the founding principles have remained part of the culture. The office of corporate responsibility was initiated by our c-suite members who came from companies where CSR was a priority and wanted the same at Outerwall. I was brought on board to develop a cohesive vision and strategy for the company. In three short years we’ve accomplished quite a lot. We set environmental and social goals, produced two CSR reports and recently acquired a shared value company, ecoATM, the first company to create an electronics recycling kiosk to purchase used mobile phones, tablets and MP3 players for cash.
As proud as we are of the progress we’ve made in a short period of time, we’re mindful that our journey has only just begun. With our priorities defined and a solid foundation in place, we look forward to collaborating with stakeholders across our value chain and further leveraging our small footprint business model to drive positive change.
3p: Tell us about someone (mentor, sponsor, friend, hero) who affected your sustainability journey, and how.
NT: The people who have impacted me the most are those that encourage the “and” instead of the “or” in this work. I am lucky to be in Seattle where there are so many generous sustainability pioneers to look to for advice and encouragement. Although I never met him, Ray Anderson’s “radical industrialist” belief that environmental sustainability and profitable business are not at odds but reliant upon each other inspires me daily.
My children affect my sustainability journey more deeply than anyone. I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I didn’t know I wanted to be in a field called “corporate responsibility.” How can I look at my children and not worry about the earth, society and the legacy we are leaving them and their people, many of whom I will never know?
3p: What is the best advice you have ever received?
NT: My dad once told me that there are three rules in work and life: 1) Be kind, 2) Be kind and 3) Be kind. He said that people will remember and appreciate your kindness above your professional success and it will come back to you. This can be tough advice to follow especially when I want to be right instead of kind, but he was right (and kind).
3p: Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of?
NT: I am very proud of how far Outerwall has come in such a short amount of time. It only took two years to decrease our carbon footprint by 20 percent and increase our volunteerism participation rate from 3 percent to 28 percent. One of the reasons for this is because there is strong commitment from the top – even through a recent CEO transition. See our most recent CSR report for details.
3p: If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be?
NT: My goal would be to have sustainability baked into everything we do at the onset at Outerwall. While we’re making good progress, it can be challenging to retrofit or change when a product or process has already been established. I look forward to the day when sustainability, like safety or profit, is something that is second nature and considered throughout the process. And with the commitment and good intentions of many individuals, I know we’ll get there.
3p: Describe your perfect day.
NT: My perfect day is one when I am connected to people, the earth and feel like living my purpose. Those days often include productive time with my awesome team at Outerwall, yoga, sunshine, my family, the Methow Valley and chilled rosé.
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.