Here’s why EDF Climate Corps’ network-based approach is a game-changer for corporate sustainability

You know that feeling when you’re cheering for your team to win, and they do? That’s the feeling I get to experience every day in my job as Manager of the EDF Climate Corps network (aren’t I lucky?!) Yesterday GreenBiz announced it’s “30 Under 30″ – a global search for emerging leaders who are shaping the next generation of sustainable business. To my delight, I saw Kayla Fenton, a 2015 EDF Climate Corps fellow, included in this impressive group. This was exciting, but not surprising; the EDF Climate Corps network is filled with inspiring leaders, just like Kayla, who are tackling corporate sustainability issues every day.

I first met Kayla when she was preparing for her summer with Nestle Waters NA. In just ten weeks, she managed to surpass everyone’s expectations. “Kayla’s detailed analysis and cross-company collaboration created the internal engagement and buy-in to move forward with a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for my last company. Her great work inspired me to bring on an EDF Climate Corps fellow in my new role with Danone Waters of America to advance carbon reductions in North America for our carbon neutral brand, Evian.” Recalled Debora Fillis-Ryba, Kayla’s former supervisor at Nestle, now with Danone Waters of America.

Now, with Amazon, Kayla manages programs to minimize the company’s footprint by eliminating packaging waste. Her efforts save the company money and energy, and optimize delivery by reducing material across the supply chain. It’s innovative, it’s sustainable and it’s economic it’s winning!

Solving a challenge, together

Individuals (like Kayla) in our network, and in cohorts like GreenBiz’s “30 Under 30”, are the next generation of sustainability leaders. They’re helping companies meet their energy goals and they’re moving the needle on climate policy. But implementing sustainability in a business or elsewhere is challenging. You need buy in, funding, human capital, etc. That’s why EDF Climate Corps, now over 1600+ members strong, uses a network-based approach. We take a big, daunting problem, and we work together, based on a shared passion for solving environmental challenges, to overcome it.

Yesh Pavlik Slenk, Network Manager, EDF Climate Corps

If you’re a Sustainability Officer, or a C-Suite executive, here’s why this matters to you: We ensure our network is always current in the ever-advancing corporate sustainability field, and is the go-to talent pipeline for meeting your energy and sustainability-related challenges and opportunities. The EDF Climate Corps network has alumni working in nearly every state, and in over 30 countries, helping some of the world’s largest companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Tesla, and hundreds of other companies, utilities, startups, cities and consulting firms meet their sustainability goals.

But more so than impressive stats or scope of our network, it’s the stories – like Kayla’s – that excite me and make my job so fun. Like any good Midwesterner, I LOVE to hear stories – to connect the real people doing the work, engage in their passions and hear how I can help them continue to grow. I got the chance to connect with Kayla recently, and she reflected: “EDF Climate corps was a game changer as I transitioned to a career in corporate sustainability – the hands-on experience and network of peers I gained during the fellowship continues to help me to this day”.

So here’s how we leverage the network to advance careers, like Kayla’s:

  1. We make connections: We help individuals build connections with experts, colleagues and innovators who can sustain them through every phase of their careers. We offer networking opportunities, such as regional events and conferences, as well as a robust online community, with roughly 500 active alumni, to ensure network members can easily engage with and leverage one another’s expertise. For current fellows, we offer a mentorship program that matches them with volunteer alumni to provide support and career advice.
  2. We keep them well resourced: Our alumni are equipped with resources to serve them year-round and at every stage of their careers. They can tap into an exclusive jobs board, take advantage of our professional development opportunities, tune into our 3E webinar series, or participate in a semi-annual climate advocacy workshop which gives them the skills they need to take meaningful steps toward advocating for climate solutions in their communities.

At the end of the day, people make this approach work. Recently, an alumni described the network to me as: “having a group of people outside of my direct line of work who I can get together, brainstorm different projects and ideas, and get wonky with”. And he’s right, because the truth is, when you hire an EDF Climate Corps alum, you hire the entire network – all of the resources and expertise behind it.

Seeing Kayla’s name on the GreenBiz’s list warmed my heart. She is one of hundreds of our program alum who turned their passion into a career, making real, inspiring change. And the fact that I get to interface with these individuals daily – well it’s an honor.

Follow Yesh on Twitter, @yeshpavlikslenk