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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Uptime Symposium and Miami University of Ohio Event

I have just returned from speaking engagements at two contrasting conferences. Together they demonstrate the breadth to which sustainability is becoming embedded in business practice.

First, I attended the Uptime Institute Symposium in New York with about 1,500 people for the week long event. The symposium focused on energy efficiency in data centers with a very tech savvy audience. I spoke on a panel with Eric Olsen of BSR on the broader sustainability landscape for corporations. In the late afternoon, I attended a valuable keynote by Bill Weihl, Green Energy Czar at Google, who described his very practical top ten lessons learned.

I then joined a more intimate conference, entitled Managing Risk to Achieve Strategy in the Post-Financial Crisis World. There were about 150 attendees at the Miami University of Ohio. Dr Brian Ballou and Dr. Dan Heitger, co-directors of the Center for Business Excellence, organized the conference and were excellent hosts and facilitators. The participants were a mixture of business folks, and MBA and accountancy students.

What was I doing there you might ask? I asked the same when I was approached to be a speaker. The morning presentations from risk management professionals at Marathon Oil, Estee Lauder, Convergys and Cintas opened my eyes to the power of the link between sustainability and enterprise risk management. I cannot hope to do justice to the synergy between the two in a blog post, but would encourage you to take a look at a paper on the topic by Dr Ballou and Dr. Heitger.

Bruce Johnstone, Managing Director and Senior Strategist at Fidelity Investments, presented a truly superb keynote on the economic crisis.

I spoke on the Four Dimensions of Sustainability and provided CSR practitioners a perspective that I hope was helpful to the participants.

As with Net Impact, the enthusiasm of the students energized me. Many from the school welcomed me, including my table hosts Scott and Marissa, who promised to comment on my blog. And for the record, a simple hello won’t cut it. I am looking for an insightful critique of something I said!

A lot to be said for the networking potential at big conferences, but somehow I find that smaller events provide even more opportunity for real engagement with others.


  1. Kevin,

    I wanted to thank you again for your presentation on the four dimensions of sustainability at the Executive Conference at Miami University last week. Many, including myself, felt it was the most interesting lecture of the day and particularly enjoyed the methods that British Telecom incorporated efficient energy use with their facilities and into their products.

    It seems to me that in order to make sustainability efforts truly successful, it requires that people be informed and influenced, as you mention in your model, to reduce negative environmental impact. I was wondering what your thoughts were on trying to market sustainability practices to younger persons who are getting cell phones, laptops, and other devices at earlier ages? Sustainability reports are not likely to be read by the teenager using an iPod, cell phone, and laptop everyday and trying to inform and influence them at a younger age would be most beneficial.

    Thanks again and look forward to your input!

    Scott Samek

  2. Hi Scott,

    Thank you for the kind words. I thoroughly enjoyed the visit with you all.

    You are absolutely right that not many people read our sustainability reports cover to cover. The very limited number of hard copies we produce are only a summary document. The main report at is designed for web access and for folks to explore the subjects that are of interest to them.

    So how do we reach out ? Of course, I have this blog and, like my colleagues in the UK, especially enjoy participating in graduate and undergraduate student events.

    Our main education forum for climate change at includes games and an 'interactive house' developed especially for children and teens.

    In the area of digital inclusion, we have an online program called BT Internet Rangers that provides young people with the framework and collateral they need to teach their grandparents to use the internet.

    Lots more to explore at our society and environment web site.