Author Archive What the environmenta What the environmental movement needs – convenient actions not inconvenient truths – please RT


June 16, 2010 at 3:50 pm Leave a comment

Thoughts on the Social Media Job Search

Here’s an article Tom wrote for Max Gladwell

greencomputerMany of us are a somewhat adolescent when it comes to using social media. You’ll find the political set making blunders and fugitives exposing themselves. I’ve met preeminent scientists and Harvard, professors who are terrified by Twitter, and self-proclaimed networkers who only have 5 contacts on LinkedIn.

My Mum, who fortunately falls into none of these categories, would certainly be happier if social media had never seen the light of day. In fact, perhaps we should stretch that discontent to computers as a whole – she suffers a rare condition of inverse learning that ensures that the more she uses them the worse she gets (similar to my own algebraic affliction). At her current pace, it won’t be long before I’ll be receiving telexes… stop.


July 22, 2009 at 12:40 am Leave a comment

Is Green Still Golden? Interview with Andrew Winston by Tom

Earlier this week, I was lucky enough to interview Andrew Winston, the author of ‘Green to Gold‘, a seminal work in the environmental space and all round green guru. If you haven’t read it already, I’d highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the sometimes difficult relationship between the environmental sector and commercial organizations. As ever, Andrew provided thoughtful commentary on the state of the environmental movement and CSR:

1. In your book Green to Gold, you eloquently argue for the economic benefits of going green – has your view changed given the recent crisis and the stimulus push’s subsidisation of the industry?

No, my belief in the benefits of going green has strengthened.  That’s why I wrote my new book Green Recovery, which focuses on going green in hard economic times.  One of the core principles of going green is doing more with less — getting lean.  That’s a perfect strategy for tight times. Companies can save a great deal of money and quickly in a few key operational areas that are generally ripe for savings: facilities (lighting, heating/cooling), IT, fleet, telework/telecommunication, and waste.  Getting lean can help companies survive, potentially avoid some layoffs, and provide capital to reinvest in people and innovation for the longer run.

2. What did you get right and what did you get wrong?  Did anything you argued or predicted in Green to Gold turned out to be wrong?

It’s an interesting question.  I’m not sure there’s anything ‘wrong’ with the arguments or frameworks in Green to Gold, but we may have covered some areas less than we should have.  One area that comes to mind is the focus on large companies in Green to Gold, which could appear to leave out small and medium sized companies.  I believe that most of the lessons and tactics of GTG apply equally to small companies with one major exception – influencing your supply chain in a deep way is not possible for smaller enterprises. They need to work together with others or with their industry to truly tackle the value chain impacts.  But many of the key ways to create value — reducing costs, innovating to help customers reduce impacts, building brand — work well, and often better, for smaller companies.  Overall, we tried to remedy any missing elements in the paperback that came out earlier this year, with revisions throughout and some answers to frequently asked questions and a new intro with key themes.

3. In your book, you talk about ‘waveriders,’ or those organizations that are leading the charge – who’s in that category, and what’s changed?

That list in GTG was mainly a starting point, not a declaration of leaders. It was based on which companies were doing a number of things back in the beginning of our research (going back to 2002-2003) — it was companies that different ranking companies like Innovest had highlighted, or companies joining groups and making commitments to reduce greenhouse gases.  I thought of it as the starting point for what companies we might want to interview. There were ones on that list that might have seemed questionable then, and certainly do now — GM for example.  So there are certainly changes, but more in who’s missing, like Wal-Mart, which has become the standard bearer in the last few years.  But the list of companies that people talk about as sustainability leaders has remained fairly consistent for years — there are just some new entries.

4. What do you think of Tom Friedman’s “green bubble” argument — that, like IT and the internet, we need a bubble to get new clean energy technologies integrated into society?

If I understand where he’s talking about, he means a bubble of investment where there’s a rush of experimentation and serious money flowing.  Some things don’t work out, but you’re left with a real infrastructure and ecosystem of new companies and technologies.  I agree, but the build out will be much larger than even the Internet. We’re talking about how we power our lives, how we live, travel, eat, etc, etc.  We do need a rush of investment, but then sustained higher levels of innovation and investment going forward.

5. If you could have any job, what would it be?

That’s a funny question.  I don’t know — I enjoy what I do now a great deal.  There are pros and cons to being an independent voice and general evangelist for the benefits of green business, and I sometimes miss the hands-on feel of working for something in an organization and having responsibility for seeing it through.  But I can reach so many organizations in my current career incarnation, that I’m happy where I am.

6. What keeps you up at night?

Besides worrying about my kids’ future, I do worry and think a lot about that big sustainability question: Are we going to make it?  Are we going to stem the tide of the environmental damage and handle the inertia in the climate system well enough?  The signs are always such a mix of positive and depressing that you have to just keep moving and stay hopeful.  In one week a few weeks ago, I spoke at a Wal-Mart sustainability summit in Brazil that was earth-shattering: the company made its suppliers agree to avoid beef and soy from cleared Amazon lands — that’s one of the most positive steps I’ve seen and could have enormous ripples around the world in how products are sourced and how we impact land use. But at the same time, the U.S. Congress barely passed a climate bill and then the G-8 meeting was moderately successful.  It doesn’t seem like the policy discussion around the world is moving at the pace that the scientists are telling us we need to.  This is somewhat terrifying.  But I have faith that what we’re seeing in the private sector is just the beginning and may drive the innovation and change we need faster than the governments can keep up.

7. Do you ever turn down clients for your consulting business? If so, why?

It hasn’t really happened yet.  I haven’t been approached for consulting by a company that doesn’t have some belief in this business movement or want to green their strategy.  I HAVE had some dilemmas on speaking engagements.  In one case, I took an engagement with a company that is mainly moving the environmental ball in the wrong direction, but I gave most of my fee to an organization that is working hard to combat those environmental challenges. It was a tough call, but I speak very often to the very skeptical and those who are not sure about all of this.  This is my job I think, to speak to the hardest audiences in a language that they feel comfortable with.

9. You’ve had a hand in educating the next generation of environmental leaders – what are the questions being asked? Where do these folks lie in the spectrum between Birkenstock-wearing treehugger  and Wall Street capitalist?

I think that line is certainly blurring.  For example, the quintessential green CEO to me is not exactly Ray Anderson or Yvon Chouinard [note from Tom: read Yvon’s book!] (although these guys are the standard-bearers), but someone like Jeff Immelt at GE. In some sense, having executives who don’t consider themselves ‘green’ or converts, but just see the business and growth opportunities will lead to larger change.  We need everyone to see that it’s good business to get lean, get smarter about environmental impacts up and down the value chain, and get innovative.  And the line is getting even less important when you look at what’s happening to attitudes in business schools and universities.  These students don’t see a trade-off between CSR and profits anymore.

10. More recently, you’ve authored ‘Green Recovery.’ Can you  give us a sneak preview as to the advice you give?

Beyond what I wrote in response to the first question, I’d add that a major focus of the new book is balancing the ‘now’ (getting lean) with the future.  I discuss something I’m calling ‘heretical’ innovation — I suggest asking some very tough questions that challenge the very foundations of your company or your products. Things like Boeing asking, can we fly without jet fuel?  Or a cleaning company I highlight, Tennant, asking ‘can we clean the floor without any chemicals?’ (their answer is yes, and they have a very successful new floor-cleaning machine to prove it).  I also spend a bit of time on employee engagement, but not on the normal tools like incentives, awards, training, etc.  I speak more about what employees should understand and believe to set up the company for success in this century.  A few principles like: climate change is political and business reality, no matter what you think of the science, or resources are not infinite (that’s a new one to our species). It’s a mindset change that will drive real innovation and cost-savings when you get these ideas ingrained.  Companies can recover from this economic mess, and going green can lead them out.


July 15, 2009 at 8:52 pm Leave a comment

Your Daily Thread – Tracy Hepler

Tracy HelperWe had a chat with Tracy Hepler this week, an entrepreneur trying to green LA:

Q1 What are you up to at the moment?

Right now I’m constantly working on growing my baby, which is an online community space for green, sustainable and local living in Los Angeles. Our goal is to bring green down to the local level. There are wonderful national and global sites out there right now such as or, but they usually don’t focus on neighborhood issues. We try to focus on things that you can do in your own back yard, from community gardens to local green events—we sift through all green marketing and green washing to bring our readers the crème de la crème of local green issues.

I have also recently co-founded LYFE (Leading Young Future Entrepreneurs) with Hillary Newman (the Ecowarriorr) and Rachel Hurn-Maloney of Vie Eco Fashion Boutique in Los Angeles. LYFE brings together young entrepreneurs who care about the environment and want to network both professional and socially.

I also do freelance writing/blogging for a few other green/cause oriented sites including the Huffington Post Green, and I’m working on a few more side projects including bringing green to the Latino mainstream.

Q2 Why do you do what you do?

After graduating college, I thought I really wanted to work in the entertainment industry as a writer. I soon realized once in the industry that my calling was to use my skills towards work that would help make the world a better place. As cheesy as that might sound, it is true. I feel that climate change and the environment is possibly the most pressing issue of our time and I want to do everything in my power to bring change and inspire everyone to do everything they can to conquer this problem.

Q3 What keeps you awake at night?

Haha, this is funny because I’m currently on vacation and I can’t be away Your Daily Thread for more than a few hours—that is my baby, if you will, and I am so inspired to see it succeed all the way through.

Q4 You mentioned that you’re doing a summer special with YDT – what tips do you have?

Well I missed the 4th, but our tips are applicable for the rest of summer. If I could suggest one big thing it would be to avoid using disposables. For one hour of picnicking or bbqing your plastic plates and forks will sit in the landfill for hundreds of years. I don’t care how tasty you burgers are—it’s not worth it. Bring your own plates from home or if you need to use a form of disposable, use compostable ones from companies like Earth Shell. They’re made in the USA from old potatoes and other scrapes and can be thrown into the compost bin. If you don’t compost and must throw them away, they won’t take nearly as long to biodegrade. You can view the rest of our green summer bbq tips here.

Q5 If you were a g(r)enie, what would you wish for?

I get three wishes I assume!

1) I’d wish for green to be a major priority across, political, social and all other spectrums. I’m happy with the amount of progress we’ve made in the last few years, but I think we’ve got a lot more to do and a stronger sense of urgency is needed.

2) That every household and business in America used a recycling and composting bin so that we would throw less into our landfills.

3) That we’d return to eating healthy real food. I have been a big fan of Michael Pollan for a while and recently saw Food INC—it’s shocking how much of what we eat really isn’t food. I’d wish for a return to more seasonal organic food that everyone could afford.

July 13, 2009 at 10:24 pm Leave a comment

Interview with the ecoWarriorr

Picture 1Here’s a little interview we did with the lovely Hillary Newman, otherwise known as @ecowarriorr, – a tireless LA-based greenie.

Why Eco warrior?

I studied abroad in London during my junior year of college and quickly became infatuated with eco-fashion.  As I met with eco-fashion designers all over London, listened to their stories, and researched about our detrimental habits to the environment, my infatuation grew into a permanent connection to my experience and ultimately led to searching for a green job once graduation came.

I am an Eco Warrior because I will not rest until I feel our lives are more sustainable.  It’s really as simple as that.  I like having my finger on the pulse of what is going on in the Green space and sharing the news with the people who share my interest.

What are you up to at the moment?

Currently I am working at a marketing and PR company that works withsocially conscience companies.  I am constantly asking myself to redefine the term, “green”.

Outside of work, I blog for the Huffington Post about emerging eco-fashion and I am working on a project called LYFE with two of my friends, Tracy Hepler (CEO of Your Daily Thread) and Rachel Hurn-Maloney (CEO of Vie Boutique), in an effort to build a community of young motivated people who share a common interest about the environment.   LYFE stands for Leading Young Future Entrepreneurs. Our goal is to introduce this community to environmentally related work opportunities and encourage young people to join together to bring about change.  We plan to start LYFE events in LA but
are looking for people to build LYFE in other cities.

What keeps you awake at night?

Aside from my neighbor’s obsession with Latin techno music, a lot keeps me up at night.  It’s important for me to focus my energy otherwise I might never get a full night sleep.  Right now, LYFE is keeping me awake.  I really believe a lot of power lies in the hands of the youth.  Through LYFE,
my intention is to create a forum for that power to exist.

What is on your radar now?

I am always supportive of people taking matters into their own hands. Right now people are gardening.  Keep your eye on Guerrilla Gardeners—they began in London organizing mass planting and seed bombing excursions.  They are literally bringing cities to life.  I wrote a blog about victory gardens inspired by Michelle Obama’s garden on the Huffington Post for Earth Day. It was exciting because Wal-Mart and Ferry Morse sent out 1,500 packets of vegetable seeds all around the United States on behalf of my article.

Link to the blog:

June 22, 2009 at 9:51 pm Leave a comment

Green MBAs

tom_green_face_biggerPenned by Tom

Perhaps the question we get asked most at Bright Green Talent is: “What do I need to do to get a green job?”

Despite the economic crisis, the environmental movement is gaining traction by the day, and the trickle of green jobseekers has turned to a flood. It seems that the meltdown in traditional careers, coupled with an increased desire for meaning in the workplace, has prompted this awakening and the resulting exodus toward meaning and greening.

Over the past month or two, I’ve been helping Alliant International University with its new beautifully-named(!) Bright Green MBA, assessing the rationale for studying environmental business. Inevitably, I’ve been thinking back to my own education. While studying business at undergraduate and graduate level, many of my colleagues expressed a desire to “change the world” and make a significant contribution. Despite the intense business-focus of these courses, the environmental and ethical business courses were still popular. Yet at the time (early 2000s), it failed to translate: Many joined traditional consultancies, investment banks and private equity firms.

Now that salaries have decreased and new jobs seem almost non-existent within those traditional careers, it’s inevitable that people are once again looking for meaning in the environmental sector. When you couple the increased salaries that can be earned in the green space, you might even be excused for asking whether it is money, rather than the sector, that is driving jobseeker decision-making — or perhaps the symbiosis of the two that now proves most attractive. What remains unchanged, however, is what companies want and need — environmentally-minded businesspeople. Almost every client tells Bright Green Talent that the most important combination is a deep knowledge of the environment coupled with business savvy. If people can display both and understand the drivers and interaction of each, they are supremely valuable in a sector where credibility is key. At this point, I’d argue that ensuring organizations attract the right people will be the factor that has most impact on our ability to affect the environmental crisis. Which is why the green MBA programs that many universities offer are well worth considering, particularly at a time when jobs are harder to find.

It’s not just Alliant’s MGSM that is offering a (bright) Green MBA program. Yale, Michigan, Presidio, and Bainbridge are familiar names, and the Aspen Institute ranks 100 programs according to their integration of sustainability issues. In addition, some of the traditional MBAs are starting to move in this direction: The wunderkind of them all, Harvard, recently saw a group of MBA students voluntarily sign an oath to be more ethical. So, if you’re desperate for a green job but don’t know where to look, then it’s likely you don’t know enough about the market — yet. It might be time to consider going back to school.

June 17, 2009 at 8:56 pm 5 comments

Nick’s interview with Doostang


Bright Green Talent

Going Green with Nick Ellis, Bright Green Talent

How did you end up at Bright Green? How did this role fit into your broader career plans or interests?

I came to Bright Green Talent from an investment bank where I was doing public finance (a job I adored). A few years in, I realized that I wanted to take a shot a running my own business and combine my passion for social and environmental justice with best-of-breed business practices. At the time, I put three constraints on my next career: it had to be entrepreneurial, environmentally-focused, and be something I could take internationally. Ultimately, my goal’s to combine my environmental entrepreneur experience, labor market insights, and public finance background to make a bid for public office. There’s this beautiful confluence of business, environment, and policy that’s changing the way we work….I’d love to bring all three to bear as the SF City and Parks Commissioner to help implement a markets-based approach to public park management that redresses global warming.

What do you like and dislike about the recruitment industry?

There’s a series of problems with transparency, ethics, and accountability in the recruitment industry that lead to a lack of confidence and loyalty between candidates, recruiters, and employers. The business model itself distorts the incentives to collaborate and increase transparency because it focuses on the fees and process, not the goal of putting people in sustainable jobs. There’s a lot of “churn and burn” out there. For me, pushing the industry towards greater transparency, efficiency, and accountability is a killer challenge. Bright Green Talent provides me a platform from which I can make a positive impact and a handsome profit, and in the process, demonstrate that business is the most powerful engine for environmental preservation.

From a recruiter’s standpoint, how can candidates differentiate themselves more effectively in this market (at any step in the application process)? What common mistakes are you seeing among job seekers? Where do you advise them to invest their time?

The biggest mistake we see is that folks think that their passion alone will get them the job. Passion’s important, but practical experience and a proven track record are more important. The other big mistake is that folks invest their time in too many job boards, mechanically sending out resumes. Get personal and approach contacts at firms you’d like to work with–it’s still how 80%+ of the population find a job. In the absence of your own personal connections, choose one recruiter who knows your industry and work with them to get introduced to a company. Word of advice: working with more than one recruiter puts everyone involved at risk, so stay (professionally) monogamous.

Green businesses are pushing the boundaries of traditional models. When you’re interviewing with a company, consider how you’ve pushed the boundaries in your previous lines of work. For example, if you were an IT Manager at Netflix, did you broach the conversation about sustainable sourcing practices for the firm’s hardware that took into account lifetime energy use and end-of-life disposal options? If so, you’ve shown that you’re a “cradle to cradle” thinker, and likely ready to help these businesses break new ground. If not, consider going back to school or volunteering as two paths towards getting up to speed on what it means to be green nowadays.

Within the green recruiting market, what types of skills/candidates are most marketable right now? What types of companies are hiring? If not now, in the future once the economy has improved?

Right now green businesses are in a “build it and they will come” phase. Biodiesel refineries, utility-scale solar firms, and electric car production lines are a few examples. As a consequence, mechanical and electrical engineers who embrace a systemic approach to design are in high demand. We’re also preparing for a groundswell of demand for contractors to help put the stimulus money to work in both the public and private sector. If you’re unemployed and looking for short-term gigs to get some exposure, drop us a line–we’d love to help you get your feet wet.

What types of green opportunities are best suited to people who share your background in finance/business?

I’d break it down into three channels:
1) Venture work sourcing and evaluating green investments. Finance teaches you to dig into the details, challenge assumptions, and separate the wheat from the chaff on an objective (read: economic) basis–these skills remain in high demand as more businesses seek funding for their green ideas.

2) Carbon project finance draws heavily on the project finance skills I learned in public finance. Firms like EcoSecurities and MMA Renewable Ventures are always looking for project finance bankers who understand the emerging regulatory environment supporting cleantech projects. If you’ve done due diligence on tax-equity or tax-credit investments for large-scale utility projects, you can likely shift into carbon project finance quickly.

3) Carbon trading remains small scale in the US (see RGGI for more info), but it’s going to grow in the coming years. Whether it’s cap-and-trade or a straight carbon tax, the field itself is poised to see harmonization and integration into global trading treaties, meaning the market will get big quickly. Investment banking exposed me to how markets set fair prices and value securities–both skills that carbon trading will need in the years ahead as it attempts to establish legitimacy.

What are the most valuable skills gained in a green job in your opinion?

Exposure to triple-bottom line business practices that re-imagine established industry practices and prove that there’s a way for profit, planet, and people to work together to create a virtuous cycle. Ecopreneurship is one of the only spaces where the moral imperative aligns so beautifully with market opportunity. I’m convinced there are trillion dollar markets within this sector, and that in twenty years’ time, there will be more social and environmental entrepreneurs than classic business entrepreneurs. To get at these markets, though, you’ll need a fair amount of focus, vision, and a strong team–no one gets anywhere without the help of others.

View Nick’s Profile. Learn more about Bright Green Talent. Then, tell us about what careers interest you. We’re listening!

April 15, 2009 at 7:18 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts

July 2018
« Jun    

Bright Green Twitter

  • RT @naval: @jdburns4 “Retirement” occurs when you stop sacrificing today for an imagined tomorrow. You can retire when your passive income… 1 week ago
  • RT @Simon_Pegg: By Sunday, England may be coming home with a Trophy. and no Cabinet. 1 week ago
  • RT @naval: “Give me a lever long enough, and a place to stand, and I will move the earth.” - Archimedes 2 weeks ago