Reflections on J. Gowdy Consulting entering year 8

July 13, 2013

I first considered a career in sustainability in the early 2000s. I was aware of the beginnings of the sustainability movement and wanted to get involved. I was able to join an Energy Conservation Initiative for a Fortune 500 client of my then employer, American Management Systems. I was hooked and decided to return to graduate school at Vanderbilt University to study sustainability in the MBA program at the Owen Graduate School of Management.

While in graduate school, I served as a consultant for pay, for class credit, and as a volunteer for six sustainability projects in Nashville and across the country. That experience along with my MBA studies provided me the background needed to launch my consulting firm, J. Gowdy Consulting in July of 2006.

Now entering the eighth year of deliving “Profitable Sustainability Solutions” with J. Gowdy Consulting, I can reflect back on the past years and relay some of the notable changes that I have witnessed:

From Niche to Norm -- sustainability has moved from the outer fringe and being a niche aspect of business to being “the norm”. A company without a sustainability plan, initiatives, reports, and communications is a laggard company.  There are varying levels of sustainability performance across companies and still strikingly few companies base their sustainability efforts on the leading science that we all need to heed.

Moving Beyond the Internal Walls -- the companies leading the way in sustainability are most noticeably the ones that are finding ways to partner across the value chain to find innovative ways to change business models and to find new ways to do business that lower environmental impacts, improve social impact, and increase financial gains for all parties involved. This is harder to do than the incremental greening that most companies do and brand “sustainability”. But it is worth the effort. The results are measured in typical business metrics -- sales, cost savings, ROI, payback period. Want examples? Look into GE, Walmart, Unilever...any many more.

Goals, goals and more goals -- if you don’t have goals then you really don’t have a plan. If you’re goals aren’t based on sound science and sound market research, then you likely have a flawed plan. The leading companies are the ones with most innovative and stretch goals. A recent review of the global Fortune 250's publicly stated sustainability goals yielded that 92% of the companies have stated goals, which is an important 30,000 foot metric. But there's more to do in terms of the extent of those goals and setting them to meet the standards laid forth by the world's leading scientists.

Those are the top three reflection points. If you would like to find out more, find me on Twitter, email, or phone. As hundreds of inquirers have found, I’m always up for a good sustainability discussion -- preferably over a fair trade/organic tea or coffee.




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