Manager of Sustainability, Environmental, and Safety
Toyota Motor North America
Please tell us your job responsibilities and day-to-day activities.
I have been responsible for a variety of programs across Sustainability, Environmental Compliance, and Safety. These have ranged from beyond-compliance activities like greenhouse gas management, waste reduction, and environmental reporting, to corporate compliance activities like audit program development, management system deployment, and training creation.
I’m also a member of the Advisory Board for the Zero Waste Business Council and have enjoyed working across industry to develop standards for waste metrics.
Tell us your biggest environmental/sustainability challenge in 2017 and how you are addressing it.
The biggest challenge I see in 2017 is managing Toyota’s move of corporate headquarters from the Los Angeles area to the Dallas area. We’re building a new campus, shutting down an old campus, and trying to keep the regular programs running for all of our field operations. It’s like trying to change the oil of a bus while driving down the highway at 60 mph — never a dull moment.
Is there a specific recent project or implementation you worked on at your company that you can share? Any tips you can share that would help colleagues at other companies who are contemplating similar projects?
With the shutdown of the campus in the Los Angeles area, we had a lot of office supplies and equipment that wasn’t needed in the new campus. Because our facilities group was focused on the new campus in Dallas, there was the risk that time would run out and everything would get trashed. But this was a time when years spent on building employee engagement on environmental issues paid off. We were able to work through the an environmental employee affinity group and mobilize a grassroots recycling response to gather and donate materials to our local school district. It was magical to see the group spring into action, make contacts, and do it all out of passion. Naoko Kusuda-Li and Diane Gibbs spearheaded the effort and lead a group of people in key departments across campus. Our guerilla recycling and reuse effort gave a lot of materials a second life and the school district was blown away by what they got. It just shows you what a small group of passionate dedicated folks working together can do.
Please tell us what you see in the market in the next few years. What will be the biggest challenges the industry will face?
I think the biggest challenge will be all of the companies developing their glide paths to zero carbon. There are enough companies working toward this same goal, but planning in a vacuum, that there are going to be interactions and inadvertent interference between them. Especially given the uncertainties in the renewable energy markets due to federal policy changes at some point everyone’s going to reach for the same renewable power at once. The market will be able to adjust, but I foresee some short-term impacts to plans.
Tell us about a favorite hobby, passion, or book you’ve read recently that has had an impact on you.
I’ve really enjoyed working on my home to make continuous improvement steps toward sustainability. From our low-water landscape, organic gardening, and composting, to water and energy savings and solar power it’s been fun to walk through the house and try to spot waste (I guess that’s what you get for living the Toyota Production System for 13 years). And with my 8-year-old son, each project is a great teaching opportunity for him, not to mention bonding time for us.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
In my time at Toyota, I’ve really enjoyed learning about the Toyota Production System (or more generally “Lean”). I’ve been struck at how a focus on continually reducing waste merges financial success and environmental success into a single driving force. It’s a philosophy that sounds simple when you first hear it, but takes years to master and incorporate into your daily work.