PMI Executive Series: Sustainability

This is the first in a three-part series featuring discussions with executives on topics affecting project management today.

John Barrows
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John Barrows has served as vice president of corporate communications and public affairs for Avis Budget Group since 2005. He oversees the firm's sustainability initiative - working with the company's customers and business partners to reduce environment impact.

A successful corporate sustainability program requires more than a token effort to recycle paper and purchase energy efficient computers. It demands a serious commitment and well-honed project management skills. Here are some ways an enterprise can tap into a sustainability initiative and achieve maximum results:

Do your research

"There's a lot to learn if you're going to make intelligent decisions and informed recommendations for sustainability," says John Barrows, vice president of corporate citizenship at Avis-Budget Group.

"It's important to understand how sustainability works, including carbon offsets. By understanding various viewpoints it's possible to make an informed decision."

Have clear goals

Know what you want to achieve and document the results you're looking to attain.

Stan Litow
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Stan Litow is the president of the IBM Foundation and IBM's vice president for global community relations. In this capacity, he oversees the company's sustainability program. Mr Litow also serves on the board for the Havard Business School Initiative on Social Enterprise and the Council of Foundations.

"Providing a clear line of accountability helps an organization utilize the best tools and talent. It also provides management accountability and financial accountability," says Stan Litow, vice president of corporate citizenship at IBM.

"Corporate social responsibility and corporate citizenship shouldn't be operated or managed any differently than any other business element."

Think beyond technology

Although technology plays an increasingly significant role in green initiatives, human behavior remains at the foundation of change.

By eliminating the printing of e-mail messages, recycling containers and paper, and implementing programs like ride sharing, an organization can make a major impact.

Use metrics and measurements

Getting employees, customers, and business partners on board can prove challenging.

Helen Fraser
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Helen Fraser has served as managing director of Penguin UK since 2001. Before that, she worked as managing director and publisher for Reed Consumer Books and an editor at Collins Books in England. She began her publishing career at Methuen UK in 1972.

Consequently, through ongoing feedback and by highlighting results, it's possible to motivate participants to make additional changes.

"Benchmark against your peers and establish best practices," Mr. Litow suggests.

Share information and ideas.

Working with an industry group or with other companies can provide synergy and benefits for all, says Helen Fraser, managing director of Penguin UK. and a champion of its sustainability efforts. "Never stop finding [new ideas]," she suggests.

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