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Meet the 100: Susan Hunt Stevens, Founder & CEO – WeSpire

The E+E 100 are the VPs, directors, managers and engineers who are making significant strides in driving our industry. See the complete list here or download the report for more detailed information about these leaders. And stay tuned for the Call for Submissions coming in the fall, when you can nominate your favorite sustainability or energy management professional!

Now, meet Susan Hunt Stevens, founder and CEO of WeSpire. Stevens helped design WeSpire, a tech platform used primarily by companies to inspire their employees to be more sustainable, inclusive, healthier, and engaged in communities. Throughout its history, WeSpire has worked with nearly 100 companies, doing short- and long-term commitments mainly with large organizations. Currently they are working with about 40 companies.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in the last year or two?

There’s a convergence happening between many teams under the purpose and responsible business side, but I think companies are still wrestling with who owns what and who does what. So, we end up having a lot of education and a lot of people at the table for decisions. We love facilitating that process, but we are pioneering — along with a lot of our customers — this world of collaboration between teams that may have been siloed in the past.

Our job is to activate every employee. The hard part is getting people to be aware of what the strategy is and what their role is for bringing that strategy to life in the company. But that’s the problem we help solve essentially. We are successful if every employee knows their role in achieving the company’s impact roles and they’re excited about it. And once they understand them, they tend to be. It’s creating a movement, a culture change. And culture change is hard. The impact is the power of a social network to inspire change.

How have you addressed that challenge?

By working closely with our customers to ensure it’s not just a great program but that they have great people who understand what their role is in participating in the program and that it’s really localized and relevant and resonates with different groups of people in the organization. We catalyze ambassadors and local champions and make sure the programs are resonating with all teams.

What advice would you give other professionals as they try to accomplish their sustainability or energy management goals?

The biggest observation I’ve had over the last nine years is how often people are forgotten or leaders may feel engaging people isn’t in their mandate, but most breakthrough change requires behavior change and culture change.

It’s not just about technologies to deploy, but how will you motivate and inspire your people. That’s just as important. And it’s forgotten all too often.

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