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Chief Green Officer: Sustainability Begins Here
Sometimes the curiosity of knowing more takes you to the source. Last week, I got puzzled at a friend's designation. It sounded weird - not much heard of.
I wrote him a casual mail instantly.
"Hi, I hope you are doing well. I am curious to know something about your designation. What is this Chief 'Green' Officer in your designation?"
I got a reply immediately. "Hi, nice to receive your mail. Would you want to know this over a call or over a coffee?"
I am always keen to meet friends face to face, unless it is too cumbersome. "Coffee would be the best option," I replied. Two days later, we met - over a cup of 'tea' at his office.
Generally, these ornamental designations don't excite me much but this one did grab my attention. I thought the same what you must have been thinking right now. 'Chief Green Officer'...big deal! It must be something to do with environment-friendly technology deployment, green IT, energy-efficient infra...blah, blah, blah! But the incentive of meeting a CIO was good enough reason to put my imagination to rest and wait patiently to hear from the source.
The initial 40-minute discussion was more of 'catching up' type. On 'the Green' point, he spoke only towards the end of the meeting but that ten-minute monologue was the crux.
Below is the verbatim (almost) narration of what I heard for ten minutes:
"I joined this company four years ago as CIO. Precisely, in one year I did most of what was expected of my position. I was getting restless. You may call it coincidence; my CEO was also keen on bestowing a few additional responsibilities on me, and "sustainability" was on top of the list. I was a lot curious and at the same time excited to take on the responsibility as it offered me to look beyond a technology analytical perspective, and offered me a role which had the potential of expanding my horizon more aligned with the business.
Two years hence, looking at it, the role made complete sense. The belief of the company management to see sustainability at the core of the business was much broader than just seeing sustainability as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity. The mandate given was to imbibe sustainability across the entire value-chain of the organization.
The role mandated to work both internally and externally. Plant teams and various internal teams formed part of the key stakeholders of the Project of Sustainability. Since we needed an external consultant to help us build a strategy around sustainability, we invited one of the Big 4 firms to help us build one. The strategy was across all value-chain as per the mandate, right from sourcing of raw materials, logistics, manufacturing, waste handling, recycling of materials and resources, supply chain and much more.
The strategy also gave us a framework to achieve various certifications. We were the first in our industry to have coveted certifications like FSC (c-o-c) and GREENGUARD, and much more. Most of these certifications stand testimony to the progression we are making in offering a unique sustainability experience to our customers.
I was raw when I started in this role. Within the first week, I got to know something, which made me dig deeper into this role. We all think that the outdoor air is more polluted, but in reality, researches have shown that the Indoor air is 2-100 times more polluted than the outdoor air. This is so because all interior infrastructure products are chemically treated and the emissions from these products may cause health hazards. Since humans spend more than 80 percent of their times indoor, the more widely the risk.
Thus, manufacturing products with the lowest possible VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) is the norm we have. And Green certifications are testimony to this that our products have the lowest possible VOCs content. Right from ensuring low consumption of natural resources, adherence to compliances and measuring the impact on the entire-value chain, these all form part of the sustainability piece.
Externally, I am responsible for creating awareness of our sustainability practices, and break the myths around sustainability. I lead and participate in major sustainability events, exhibitions and sessions where we try to present ourselves as an organization centered on the core of sustainability, and help break those myths.
Sustainability fortunately doesn't has a point of reaching and concluding, it is ever lasting and Greenply remains committed to start all over again each day, every day, year on year on its sustainability endeavors, bringing in new technologies, processes, product innovation and much more, whereby our eco-vision of creating a sustainable value for our stakeholders is extended to all.
The best part of this story was that technology was not even one percent of this whole sustainability bit. In conventional thinking, we mostly talk, equate IT with sustainability and therefore the story begins and ends with 'Green IT'. In reality, sustainability is about systematically monitoring environmental impact on entire value chain, reduce our carbon footprints, induct clean technologies and bring innovation into product design."
I was impressed with this 10-minute narration. Many more questions were crawling my mind but I restricted it to a few.
"How much time do you devote to this huge sustainability portfolio?" I asked.
"Not much," he replied, "because currently it is on auto-pilot mode and I pitch in when strategy input is required. Secondly, I am also responsible for managing diverse roles, which include IT, HR, global CSR and leadership development...apart from handling technology for the company at the global level. Thus, I try to balance out my bandwidth."
Meet Anshul Dureja, President - Corporate Operations & Chief Green Officer, Greenply Industries Limited showing the way to the CIOs to look outside the role of mere technology.