EMC's Chief Sustainability Officer Discusses a Typical Day in Her Life

Published: Mar 23, 2010

Topics: CSR       

Numbers speak louder than the most well-thought out blog and I'm numerically-inclined. Jobs in sustainability remain hard to find, despite their growing emphasis at business schools, in Annual Reports (United Technologies came out with their 2009 annual report today, and it is "Integrated" with Corporate Responsibility for the first time), at public forums and an industry-wide consensus on the need for companies to become more ecological-minded.


Some simple Google searches help illustrate my love for numbers. A search for "jobs in sustainability" brings up over 13 million results. A search for "jobs in CSR" brings in a modest 4 million, while suggesting you add "in India" or "in Mumbai" to the search terms for more results. (Not surprising as India Inc. continues to embrace this ideology of being held accountable much faster than its counterparts in the developed world) Enough numbers to show the fallacy? I'll use another comparison for comparison sake. A search phrase like "jobs in banking" gets you over 48 million results.

Management Careers

But, let's narrow this down a bit. Searching for "chief sustainability officer" brings up 369,000 results. Compare this to over 53 million results for "chief technology officer." When it comes to roles with specific tasks in the executive suite, there aren't many that beat the tech chief's. It is a widely popular title, and one that enjoys industry-wide necessity. And then we have the field of sustainability chiefs (CSO). Very small, very niche. But sustainability experts and researchers say, not for long. As we emerge from the recession and head into the more jobs, fewer unemployed scenario, more companies will begin to divert resources and capital toward sustainability.

Chief Sustainability Officers

The few CSOs, however, who have taken it upon themselves to change their company's thinking, practices and maneuver them onto the responsible path must be recognized. Not to be confused with eco-officers and CEOs with sustainability-like sounding (sub)titles, these leaders are spearheading a work culture of sustainability, almost always single-handed.

Kathrin Winkler is the Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer at EMC Corporation. What follows is a typical day in her life at the technology giant. In the coming weeks, In Good Company will feature an exclusive interview with Ms. Winkler, where we discuss, besides her role, the broader issue of increasing sustainability expertise industry-wide, how companies are/are not embracing responsibility and the touchy subject of initiating the discussion in the board room. Stay tuned!

Kathrin Winkler, EMC

Kathrin ("Kate") Winkler is Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer at EMC Corporation, where she has a history of taking on entirely new roles in which she has to fill in the interstices between more traditional functions. She and her husband Angus live in Massachusetts with their very old cat, though they prefer to be 50 feet below the surface of tropical waters.

7:15 am: Arrive at office. Post to my blog. Do whatever other writing is on my to-do list while I still remember the ideas that came to me in the shower (white papers, proposals, business cases, policy statements, our developing Principles of Environmental Sustainability, etc.).

7:30 am: Conference call with folks in Europe or Middle East to discuss Green IT opportunity. Continue reading...