Eco-officers are moving into executive suites — LA Times

NCN… A call for Environmental Strategy executives.  There is indeed an impressive population of Environmental Strategy executives in the marketplace — differentiated from those who valiantly self-nominate and learn on the job.  As you know, The North Point identifies and evaluates the leading experts for our clients’ Environmental Strategy / Sustainability business units.

Below –  Tiffany Hsu surfaces common issues and challenges within the domain…

At many companies, sustainability officers are placed in the upper echelons of companies, where they are highly visible. In some cases, the CEO has taken on the extra duty.

By Tiffany Hsu

December 30, 2009

During his more than three decades in real estate David Pogue played many roles, but environmental expert was never one of them.

That didn’t stop his company, Los Angeles real estate brokerage CB Richard Ellis, from naming him the company guru of all things eco-friendly nearly two years ago. Pogue suddenly found himself in charge of making the firm and its projects more energy efficient and environmentally conscious, an abrupt switch

“I’m an outsider, a real estate guy trying to become an environmentalist,” said Pogue, the company’s national director of sustainability. “But I believe in what I do, that it’s something bigger than myself.”

As companies grapple with climate change, try to attract eco-conscious customers and develop alternative energy agendas while complying with regulations, a new kind of administrator is moving into the executive suite to help out.

Sustainability officers and green supervisors, some say, are successors to the diversity managers and innovation specialists of the 1990s — with their focus equal parts corporate responsibility, public relations and profit.

“Our clients expect this,” Pogue said. “A company of our size doesn’t have the luxury any longer of not participating.”

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Positions such as Pogue’s often are placed in the upper echelons of companies, where they are highly visible and directly overseen by the chief executive. At Coca-Cola Co. and Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc., chief executives Muhtar Kent and Ryoichi Ueda, respectively, have adopted the sustainability officer title as well.

Other firms bundle in extra duties, such as dealing with the supply chain. At Levi Strauss & Co., Michael Kobori works on labor standards and general green issues as vice president for social and environmental sustainability.

“Ten years ago, the position I have didn’t exist,” Kobori said. “Now, we are seeing a new generation of business leaders who have grown up with sustainability. There is actually a career path in this field for someone at a corporation.”

Last year, fewer than 200 positions dedicated to sustainability were spread among more than 1,200 companies, according to consulting firm Hudson Gain Corp. With a “very limited talent pool of experienced sustainability executives,” many firms plucked internal candidates who were well-regarded in other fields for the role, the report said.

In higher education, about 80 positions existed last year, 82% of them full time, according to the Assn. for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Salaries ranged from less than $20,000 to nearly $160,000.

Green managers are also springing up in government. President Obama signed an executive order in October requiring federal agencies to each designate a senior sustainability officer….

READ the entire article here.

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