Andrew Winston, founder of Winston Eco-Strategies, is the author of Green Recovery and co-author of Green to Gold, the best-selling guide to what works - and what doesn't - when companies go green. He is a globally recognized expert on green business, and has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Time, BusinessWeek, Forbes, The New York Times, and CNBC. Andrew is dedicated to helping companies both large and small use environmental strategy to grow, create enduring value, and build stronger relationships with employees, customers, and other stakeholders. His clients have included Bank of America, HP, and IKEA.
What is one of the most memorable moments you have about your academic experience at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies?
Like most people, I’d have to say mods. The experience of throwing all these people together with diverse backgrounds, in the woods, was enlightening, especially for me - I was coming from business without much history in environmental issues and I was changing careers. Those few weeks made my career right turn happen fast. It was like diving in the deep end. And I made some good friends in a short period of time. Getting dropped in the woods with a map and a compass was hilarious and a great bonding experience.
What career advice would you offer a current student interested in pursuing a career in corporate sustainability?
I think the most important thing in going into ‘corporate’ sustainability is to be open-minded about what that means. The number of jobs with sustainability in the title, within big companies, is still very small, and it might remain small indefinitely. Increasingly, green concerns are becoming a part of every job in a company, so most companies will not need that many dedicated people on the topic. So there are a few other tracks that I’d suggest for working on the private sector greening movement including:
What challenges do you believe corporations will face in the next 5 years implementing sustainability practices within their organizations?
Making it a part of everyone’s job is where we’re headed, but that will be challenging. Large chunks of organizations don’t really believe green has anything to do with them. Getting execs on board from traditional roles - say, HR or marketing or product development - will take some time. It’s a long-term cultural shift that we may not have that much time to wait for. At the same time, I think companies will also feel pressures from their customers and their own employees (like all these new grads coming out with values in mind) that they try to keep up with. The change in views that we should go green will happen much faster than the hard realities of making it happen in big organizations.