Swissnex brings together several well known local and international personalities to discuss how to innovate business with a strategy for sustainability.
Of the world's 100 largest economies, more than half are now corporations, not nations. But to sustain these economies in a changing world, innovative and sustainable thinking must become automatic. At the third event in its series on innovation, swissnex San Francisco welcomes you to take part in a conversation on how individuals as well as big business can ingrain sustainable ideas and actions into their plans for the future.
Moderator Judah Schiller, of Saatchi & Saatchi S, leads the discussion, which includes first-hand accounts from Nestle's Hilary Green and Safeway's Christy Consler on what their Fortune 500s are doing to encourage and reward sustainability. Steve Newcomb, CEO of Virgance, explains for-profit activism, and frog design creative director, Nick de la Mare, details one of his company’s social innovation efforts, Project Masiluleke, an HIV-fighting program in South Africa that uses mobile technology as a bridge to treatment.
Currently vice president of Leadership Planning and Development for Safeway, Consler also founded an executive coaching and organizational consulting firm and created the Professional Women's Dream Team leadership program for high potential women.
She has more than 15 years of experience in marketing strategy in consumer-packaged goods, banking, and technology. She has worked with business leaders and teams in a variety of organizational settings, from Fortune 500 firms to entrepreneurial startups, including American Express, eBay, Gap, Lucasfilm, SAP, Synopsys, Williams-Sonoma, and many others. She began her career in financial services at Chemical Bank (now JPMorgan Chase), where she was an Assistant Vice President in the Corporate Lending group.
Consler also worked in brand management at General Mills in the flagship Cheerios division, as well as in their New Ventures division, where she worked with a cross-functional team to develop comprehensive strategies to create new business platforms and enter new growth markets.
A graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Consler earned an MBA in marketing and strategic management and a B.S. degree from Cornell University. She received her coaching training from Coach University.
Nick de la Mare
Over the course of his 12-plus year career as a designer, the creative director at frog design has created innovative user-centered design solutions in a wide variety of media. He has been fortunate to work with such clients as Nike, Levi's, Anheuser-Busch, Campbell's, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Sony, Samsung, and Adobe.
His recent projects span packaging, product, and digital design; way-finding systems; brand and identity; and the evolution of online and mobile experiences. He received a BFA in design from Syracuse University, a master's degree in Industrial Design from Rhode Island School of Design, where his work explored the evolution of personal and group identities through material culture, and he’s currently a senior lecturer at the California College of the Arts.
Green obtained her Ph.D. in metabolic physiology from the University of Nottingham, in the United Kingdom.
She has taught in physiology, nutrition, and health in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. In 2002, she joined the Nestlé Research Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland, as a senior scientist, and in 2008 moved to the Corporate Head Office to take responsibility for coordinating all external Nestlé R&D Communications, worldwide.
Newcomb is CEO and Chairman of the Board of Virgance, an incubator that finds great ideas and turns them into companies that change the world. He’s also the Chairman of the Board for each company Virgance builds and is the acting Chairman of Serious Business.
He is a successful serial entrepreneur who has been involved in building 6 companies prior to Virgance, resulting in over $3 billion in market value. Most recently, Steve co-founded Powerset, a natural language search engine company, which was acquired by Microsoft for $100 million dollars in 2008 and served on the Board of Directors at Jaxtr, a voice over IP company, which was acquired by Sabse. Before Powerset and Jaxtr, Newcomb also co-founded or created Promptu Mobil (private) and Loudfire (now Nokia), was an executive at Proxicom (now iCrossing) and AGS (now Statoil), and was the editor of The Entrepreneur's Workbook (Florencia: note italics).
Newcomb is often selected as a keynote speaker on a variety of issues ranging from social networking to the future of sustainability.
Schiller leads global business development for Saatchi & Saatchi S and focuses on helping industry leaders create strategic, internal initiatives and external campaigns that solve major environmental, health, and societal issues while driving top and bottom line value to the organization.
He is one of the co-creators of the Personal Sustainability Project ("PSP"), the largest grassroots, sustainability initiative ever undertaken by a corporation: Wal-Mart. By successfully transforming "sustainability"—a 14-letter, six syllable word—into fun and easy-to-digest concepts within an effective grassroots training and communications framework, Schiller and team have been able to educate, inspire, and engage 1.5 million Wal-Mart associates across the U.S., linking personal interests and happiness to organizational sustainability, planet, and community. He continues to provide strategic guidance to some of the world’s most influential companies and organizations, and in addition to his efforts in creating a world full of happy people living on a healthy planet, he is recognized as a leader in the field of sustainability and speaks at meeting, conferences, and events regularly.
He holds a B.A from Brandeis University and a J.D. from UC Hastings.
Nick de la Mare, creative director of frog design, explains his philosophy for designing sustainable objects. He says the goal is to create a well-designed product that evokes love, and thus will not be thrown away.
The sustainability movement needs to build a case that is, well, more sustainable. It needs to build a scientific and economic case that can withstand valid criticism. It is not there yet.
Further, it needs to shed its “Phoebe Buffay” image. This will be a challenge.
Third, most “sustainability” work will get done without a neo-Malthusian movement. Shortages that arise from “unsustainable” practices drive up prices which stimulate substitutes.
Fourth, I'll assert that the developed world is entering a period of extended relative poverty – thanks to aging demographics. Frugal people will consume less – reducing the benefit produced by “sustainability” missionaries.
Fifth, if global warming doesn't occur as forecast, the virtue of extra-cost solar power electricity pumped into an extra-cost smart grid to power an extra-cost electric car may not be entirely apparent to someone who's having trouble making the rent. Popular support will suffer.
Sixth, sustainability folks seem willing to seek tools of government coercion to force compliance with their vision.
Seventh, “sustainability” can indeed be a valuable addition to a marketing campaign; probably moreso if the west prospers, less so if it does not.
On balance, the romanticism of the movement is heartwarming. However, it appears on track to repeat the rhetorical excesses and strategic mistakes of the general environmental movement. Despite its successes, it has disappointed itself and alienated many unnecessarily.
Sustainability missionaries appear poised to do the same.