The next two sections of my blog will focus on my recent interview with sustainability expert and resident ASU faculty Dr. Kevin Dooley. Dr. Kevin Dooley is a sustainability scientist and supply chain management professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business. Dr. Dooley has held many academic positions at several universities and has published over 100 research articles. He is a world-known expert in the field of complexity science and has helped many organizations and companies to improve their business processes. Luckily, I was recently able to ask him some questions about sustainability and business.
JS: What do you think business people most often misunderstand about sustainability and what affect do you think that has on the business world? On their coworkers? Their company? On their competitors?
KD: Many people in business are not aware of the significant business benefits that come from addressing sustainability issues. It is looked at as a risk management issue, which it is, but there’s also significant opportunity for cost reduction, enhanced access to markets and workers, and increased attractiveness to investors.
JS: What do you think is the best way the W.P. Carey students can educate themselves on sustainability and thus what is the best way/ways that students can then apply that knowledge in a practical way to an internship and then to a career in any area of business in the future?
KD: The best path to working on the sustainability issues in business is to get a business degree in a functional discipline like supply chain or marketing, and then take additional courses and/or internships to build up some awareness and skills in sustainability related topics. Undergraduates are unlikely to get hired directly into “sustainability” only positions, those are typically for more senior people; but those who show passion and knowledge of sustainability will be put on sustainability projects and can develop skills that way.
Finally I asked Dr. Dooley what sustainability meant to him as an expert in the field. He pointed me in the direction of an article that he recently wrote.
The article talked first about the progress that has been made in the field of sustainability over the past decade. Furthermore Dr. Dooly addressed the past and current mindset of sustainability in which individuals and select organizations took on rolls of heroism in the area of sustainability by addressing “low hanging fruit” or environmental issues in the forefront that are rather easily tackled. For the past decade these “sustainability heroes” have created a marginalizing effect that ultimately labeled the rest of us as “not sustainable”.
Personally I agree with Dr. Dooley’s point and I will say that many people assume that people who care about the environment have to be tree huggers who drive hybrids and have rooftops covered in solar panels. In response to this Dr. Dooley proposed the idea of “Collective Heroics” a concept in which everyone is welcomed upon the “sustainability bus” and everyone is encouraged to do their part, even if they are not an extreme tree hugger. My take on the article personally is that sustainability efforts will be much more effective if everyone was a bit more sustainable than if a handful of people are extreme environmentalists.
I have provided the link to the article for further reading. http://www.sustainabilityconsortium.org/wp-content/themes/sustainability/assets/pdf/dooley-G8.pdf.
In my next blog I will elaborate more on the article and include more content from my recent interview with Dr. Dooley.