As part of our Green MBA Success Series, I am interviewing Green MBA graduates to uncover what steps they took to transition to green careers using their degrees. Meet Robin Connell, Manager of Sustainability Programs at Del Monte Foods. Prior to transitioning to a career in sustainability, Robin worked seven years in media publishing in a consumer marketing role, after having spent having spent three years in that industry in a human resources capacity. Read our interview with Robin, in which she shares her story of how she transitioned from a career in media marketing to one in sustainability. Don’t forget to check out our entire Green MBA Success Series and our Green MBA Directory.
Name: Robin Connell
Company: Del Monte Foods
Title: Manager, Sustainability Programs
Green MBA Program Attended/Year Completed: MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School
Q. What are the key responsibilities of your job?:
A. I started at Del Monte in May 2009 to implement the corporate responsibility strategy by coordinating a cross-functional executive leadership team, managing working groups around key issues such as packaging and responsible sourcing, establishing environmental sustainability reduction goals, collecting and communicating sustainability information across the company, educating our workforce on what we are doing, answering sustainability-related questionnaires such as the Walmart Sustainability Index and Carbon Disclosure Project, and issuing employee engagement campaigns.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?
A. I enjoy hearing and learning from a diverse set of stakeholders. This position provides me the opportunity to experience on-the-ground training by attending governmental, industry association and general sustainability conferences, and by visiting farms and manufacturing plants. I am given the incredible opportunity to ask questions and learn from a range of experts from different professional backgrounds.
Q. Can you think of one project that really stands out as having a big impact on you? If so please describe it and explain why it had such a
dramatic affect on you.
A. I am currently learning as much as I can about what a sustainable food system looks like into 2100. The issues are so complex and overwhelming, it is a great challenge to figure out and be a part of the solution. I don’t have any one project as I manage multiple programs – I routinely build teams and educate our workforce across the country. Visiting various parts of the country from rural to urban definitely brings new perspectives regarding sustainability from ambivalent to passionate – it’s been a great experience getting to travel across America and hear how Americans perceive and value sustainability, and hopefully influence positive change in those experiences.
Q. How did you get to where you are in your career; what actions did you take that you feel enabled you to succeed?
A. I got my job by networking and staying on top of the flow of positions. I saw the job on Indeed.com, realized I had a couple of people at Del Monte that I knew who I contacted and they vouched for me.
Q. Why did you decide to make a career change into sustainability?
A. I have a slightly different, yet circuitous career path in that when I graduated college in 1996, sustainable development was not largely considered. However, over the course of my career, sustainability grew in recognition. I parlayed my background in publishing to work for Dwell Magazine. The publication authentically and consistently discusses sustainability throughout its content. During my tenure at Dwell, I attended graduate school and focused on projects relating to carbon markets. I was able to combine my backgrounds in marketing, paper manufacturing and human resources with my educational background to transition into my current role at Del Monte Foods.
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Prior to venturing into sustainability, Robin was a human resources specialist at CMP Media, a high-technology business-to-business multimedia company. She was responsible for implementing initiatives to create positive team dynamics with client groups by coordinating and facilitating team-building exercises via the utilization of training and development programs. Robin partnered closely with the community connections director to roll out with effective volunteer campaigns for company employees to participate in. While at CMP Media, Robin was also responsible for the human resources management of the the circulation and show operations departments, as well as Technology & Learning Magazine. Her responsibilities included the resolution of employee conflicts, compensation analysis, budget analysis, recruitment, termination of employees, company policy enforcement, legal compliance, and collaboration with business units in regard to compensation planning and budget preparation.
After CMP Media, Robin became a direct marketing specialist for Future Network, a publishers of over 90 enthusiast consumer and computer games magazines. She was responsible maintaining and increasing a collective subscriber base of over 1.5 million subscribers. Robin also developed and tracked reporting on pay-up response and profit & loss analysis across all managed sources for three video gaming magazines including insert cards, cross promotions and box cards.
From human resources, Robin transitions into media marketing. As the new business manager at Dwell Magazine, an independent publisher of modern architecture design, furnishings, art, sustainability and home decor, Robin was responsible for the acquisition of new subscribers via the creation and management of large-scale direct marketing campaigns worth $1.5 million in revenue per year. She achieved top circulation awards in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Robin also established and managed strategic partnerships with complimentary affiliates such as modern art museums, magazines and retail stores, and assisted with event management and content for Dwell on Design.
While getting her MBA at Presidio, Robin developed both an Internal Marketing and Strategic Management Plan for the Business Council on Climate Change, as well as completed an operations plan for Innovest,an investment consulting firm. She also won the Rebuilding a City Block” Competition.
Q. What steps did you take that were the most effective in helping you make the transition to a career in sustainability?
A. I never lost focus on the pulse of sustainability. In order to stay current and well versed, I make sure I stay abreast of all different sources of information discussing the trends around sustainability.
Q. What, if any additional certifications, training, degrees do you have that have helped you in your obtaining a position in the sustainability/green section?
A. BA in Environmental Studies from University of California, Santa Barbara with a focus on sustainable urban development. M. Certified GRI Training Program. Certified in Lean Bronze Training.
Q. What are your long term career goals?
A. To be honest, sustainability is an ever-evolving space right now – that is currently unclear where I want to transition next.
Q. Please share any additional thoughts that you feel might be helpful to someone seeking to make this type of career transition.
A. I always recommend to job seekers to “mine” Linkedin to see who is connected to the company you want to work for and don’t be bashful to reach out to them for an informational interview.
Join us each month as we introduce to sustainability professionals who used a green MBA to make a green career transition. If you have a green MBA, have successfully transitioned into a career in sustainability, and would like us to spotlight you in the Green MBA Success Series, or if you know someone you think we should spotlight, drop me a line. Don’t forget to check out our entire Green MBA Success Series and our Green MBA Directory.
© 2011, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.