Summer of Sustainability: Syniverse’s Summer Fellow Builds on Environmental Efforts

Filed in Corporate Social Responsibility by on September 10, 2013 0 Comments

When I tell people I focus my graduate studies on sustainability management, I usually get involved in a discussion about what sustainability is, or get statements like “Sustainability is just talk and no action” and “Sustainability is just a buzzword.” Fortunately, this summer at Syniverse, I had the opportunity to take part in a program that proves the contrary – where sustainability is all about taking action.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Climate Corps taps the talents of tomorrow’s aspiring leaders by placing graduate students in summer fellowships at companies, schools and governments to help these organizations save energy, money and environmental consumption. As Syniverse’s EDF Climate Corps fellow this summer, I had the chance to apply my knowledge and gain firsthand experience in the details and challenges of expanding a corporate sustainability program, and in this post, I’d like to share a few accomplishments.

This is the second year that Syniverse has worked with EDF Climate Corps. Last year’s fellow focused on energy-efficiency measures at the Tampa headquarters. During my 10 weeks, I focused on initiatives that are based on Syniverse’s global 2015 carbon-reduction goals. Specifically, I tackled four areas:

  • Reducing paper waste
  • Decreasing supply chain emissions
  • Developing an employee engagement strategy
  • Assessing how Syniverse can further enhance its efforts in becoming a sustainability leader.

Among our accomplishments, we helped increase printing efficiency at global headquarters and developed initiatives to reduce supply chain emissions by 10 percent, establishing new sustainability requirements as part of Syniverse’s purchasing criteria. What’s more, we conducted a gap analysis for sustainability reporting and identified additional measures for Syniverse to further enhance its goal of becoming a sustainability leader.

Finally, we also built on Syniverse’s employee engagement strategy. This is a more abstract unit of sustainability measurement compared to traditional metrics, such as costs and consumption levels. But the intangible value of employee engagement, like what I witnessed at Syniverse, can be a powerful catalyst for sustainability, and the benefits it provides to a company’s overall financial success can be significant.

Overall, we succeeded in moving forward to achieving the carbon-reduction goals. For me personally, it was an invaluable hands-on experience, and I feel privileged that I was able to work with such qualified and enthusiastic people.

Coming back to the statement “Sustainability is just a buzzword,” there is no doubt that “sustainability” is used very freely in our language. However, the notion of a buzzword generally carries with it a negative undertone, which I disagree with in this context. Doesn’t a buzzword like “sustainability” ultimately create awareness and evoke discussions? And isn’t this a first step in our awareness to help us move toward a society and economy that balance economic, environmental and social interests in the long run?

What are your thoughts? Can “sustainability” be a positive buzzword?

 

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Mona Benisi served as Syniverse’s 2013 Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Climate Corps summer fellow. The EDF Climate Corps is a program that places specially trained master’s degree students with select organizations to identify energy-saving opportunities. As an EDF summer fellow, Mona spent 10 weeks helping Syniverse evaluate and plan energy-efficiency strategies that Syniverse can use to implement more eco-friendly business practices across its global offices. Mona is currently on sabbatical from her sustainability role at Siemens, in Munich, Germany. As part of her accomplishments there, she played a key role in establishing the sustainability office, which included the development and implementation of corporate sustainability strategies across the company.

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