SP Emerging Professional Spotlight: Bill McDermott

Suppliers Partnership for the Environment’s Emerging Professionals Work Group (SP EP) members are working to cultivate their current work environments into sustainable and inclusive communities, adopting the mindset of ‘No action is too small’, while promoting sustainability in all business operations.

Our Suppliers Partnership for the Environment (SP) Emerging Professional spotlight series is intended to highlight the voices of individual emerging professionals within the SP community that are driving initiatives to promote sustainability within their companies, and beyond. This month, we are pleased to welcome SP member Bill McDermott with FCA US LLC in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

What inspired you to work on sustainability? What is your favorite part of your current role?

Like so many aspects of my professional career, working in sustainability was something that I hadn’t planned on but have welcomed the opportunity.  It started as a request to help gather data and when I saw the impact my organization was having I found myself looking for other ways to be involved.

As a member of FCA’s Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) group, my favorite part of my current role is in having discussions and trying to find a way to get more people involved in sustainability efforts.  Tying these efforts to our goals as an EHS organization is very rewarding.

What is one sustainability project you have been involved in that you are most proud of or found the most interesting?

Last year I had the opportunity to meet with the Directors of EHS for each region around the world for a workshop on how we can coordinate our sustainability reporting practices.  Seeing how other countries approach sustainability and the values that each places on what they are doing was something I’ll never forget.  Being able to facilitate a global conversation and come away with tangible results that have helped push our entire organization further is what I am most proud of.

What have your favorite campaigns been on Drive (SP EP’s digital sustainability engagement platform) and what actions are you taking to support those campaigns?

The Protect the Pollinators! campaign has been my favorite so far.  My role keeps me involved in sustainability from a data perspective, but I don’t often get to be a direct participant in our projects.  Seeing everything that FCA has done to build and maintain pollinator gardens was exciting.  It helps to maintain enthusiasm about sustainability when you can see how large of an impact your company is having.

What sustainability trends / innovations are you most excited about right now? What industry environmental sustainability initiatives are you most interested in exploring next?

With the large number of people who are working remotely now, I’m most excited to see the impacts that people can have around their homes.  Sustainability can sometimes come with the connotation that only corporations can have an impact.  I think as people begin exploring what they can do in their personal lives to have an effect they will be surprised by how little effort it takes.  ‘No action is too small’ has never been truer than it is right now.  The SP EP group has some really great ideas to highlight this over the next few months.

From an industry perspective, I would like to explore the world of big data.  Too often ideas are thwarted because data cannot be connected in a way that is useful.  Trends and commonalities start to almost jump out at you if you have the right data. 

What advice would you have for other emerging professionals seeking to promote sustainability initiatives within their company?

The best advice I can give is to figure out how to translate the value of the initiative into something that resonates with the decision makers in your company.  Financial benefits will always grab attention but don’t forget about your other metrics.  Finding value that aligns with your company’s overall sustainability goals can sometimes hold just as much weight. 

Also, never be afraid to speak up.  I can’t count how many times I have floated an idea that seemed obvious to me that no one else was thinking about.  They won’t all be winners but you’ll never know if you don’t speak up.

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