HomeGreen TechnologyHow Kathy Cacciola is making a greener international meals program at Google

How Kathy Cacciola is making a greener international meals program at Google

Having spent 14 years pioneering sustainability at $16 billion meals and services firm Aramark, Kathy Cacciola stepped into her subsequent main problem in December 2021. 

Now working as international sustainability lead of the meals program at Google, Cacciola oversees a posh community of worldwide stakeholders, shaping sustainability methods throughout a world portfolio of foodservice operators. 

On this interview, she discusses the significance of acclimating to a brand new function, the 2 abilities which can be essential for carving out a profitable profession in ESG, and the massive points shaping sustainability in international meals. 

Shannon Houde: Are you able to inform us a bit bit about your thrilling job at Google? 

Kathy Cacciola: Positive. I joined Google in December 2021 as the worldwide sustainability lead on the meals staff. In order that signifies that I work on the intersection of the Google meals staff and our vendor companions, these companions being foodservice corporations which can be managing the each day operations throughout our places. Coming from my function at Aramark, I am primarily on what we’d name the shopper facet. And fortunately, having that deep experience and information of what’s and isn’t potential — and the place these challenges are — means we are able to have a mutual understanding as the inspiration for an amazing partnership. 

My present work sits beneath two predominant areas of focus: meals loss and waste; and single-use plastics. So, whereas my remit is international sustainability and I am concerned in quite a lot of totally different initiatives similar to balanced plant-forward (utilizing entire grains, beans/legumes, fruits, greens, nuts, seeds and wholesome oils within the majority of meals), in 2023 we’ll put that broader technique over our method.

There’s a extremely attention-grabbing complexity to our group given the dimensions at which we work, and the truth that every thing at Google is not only about what we do inside our operations however about altering practices amongst our companions, after which scaling extra globally world wide as properly.

Houde: Do you’ve got any recommendation on leaping into a brand new group and new function? 

Cacciola:It takes time to get acclimated and to grasp all of the totally different stakeholders. For me having been at Aramark for 14 years, after which coming to Google, I misplaced my entire ecosystem of colleagues, lots of whom are additionally expensive associates. Fortunately, at Google, through the first few months of my function, at the very least within the meals staff, our management staff gave quite a lot of area to only be taught, pay attention, take in and ask questions however not make any choices. There are such a lot of primary administrative items to rise up to hurry on in a brand new function, not to mention the subject material after which the stakeholders. So, give your self — and hopefully your management staff can provide you — the endurance and style to construct a powerful basis in order that if you end up instructed to run, you are truly capable of run. 

Houde: Do you’ve got any suggestions for people transitioning from careers in NGOs, authorities or suppose tanks to the personal sector too? 

Cacciola: I might simply take into consideration what abilities and experience you’ve got that may be utilized inside a special sector. Lots of the time, individuals will get caught up in what sector they’ve been working in, but when you concentrate on stakeholder engagement or undertaking administration, these are common skillsets. So, get actually clear on what your abilities and talents are and the way they apply in a brand new setting. And get actually clear explaining that.

Be able to pivot, and perceive what they’ll name you out on that’s lacking and have your reply as to how you are going to achieve success.

For instance, I used to be interviewing for a job on the World Cocoa Basis a few years in the past. I did not have any cocoa material experience, and I used to be within the closing interview course of with the president of the group. He checked out me and he stated, “Oh, you haven’t any cocoa material experience.” And I stated, “You may have 40 individuals on employees who’ve cocoa material experience. The very last thing you want is yet another particular person with cocoa material experience. You want someone who is aware of the way to ask these individuals the proper questions, after which apply the solutions.” (P.S. I did get the job supply.) Be able to pivot, and perceive what they’ll name you out on that’s lacking and have your reply as to how you are going to achieve success. 

Houde: Meals methods are one of the vital expansive areas inside sustainability as a result of they’re so advanced. What do you see as probably the most urgent ESG points associated to your work? 

Cacciola: Along with meals loss and waste, and single-use plastics, the opposite space that I am engaged on with our procurement staff is updating our procurement pointers.

We’re engaged on updating our total requirements and people requirements are undoubtedly not restricted to plastics and meals waste alone however embrace an entire number of matters and points — whether or not it is sustainable seafood, animal welfare or deforestation. One other broader overarching subject that each meals firm is considering today is round carbon emissions total or particularly related along with your bought items and providers — oftentimes the majority of a meals firm’s emissions. As soon as we now have a way of what we’re buying, it’s then understanding what emissions are related to these purchases in order that we are able to proceed to cut back emissions over time as we drive in direction of our web zero purpose. 

Houde: And what do you like about your job for the time being? 

Cacciola:Effectively, I might be remiss if I did not level out my love for the meals right here at Google (free wholesome snacks are in all places!) and our meals program total. However what I actually love is that I am working for a company that is actually dedicated to driving change. As I alluded to earlier, it’s not solely inside our enterprise and ecosystem, however throughout our companions and the broader market total. The extent of ambition is sort of vital. Even the meals waste objectives that we introduced earlier this 12 months to chop meals waste in half for every Googler and ship zero meals waste to the landfill by 2025. As lots of you is perhaps conversant in, U.N. Sustainable Growth Purpose 12.3 units a purpose to halve meals waste by 2030. Ours is by 2025. So it’s a go massive or go residence angle, and that stage of dedication and ambition is constant throughout every thing that we do. 

Houde: Inform us concerning the challenges that you just face regularly.

Cacciola: I might say the largest problem is round navigating our ecosystem of stakeholders. The extent of complexity at Google is critical. I accomplice with our personal meals staff, and we accomplice with all of our distributors, of which we now have greater than 40 world wide. After which we’re additionally participating exterior stakeholders, whether or not it is consultants or NGOs. So, there are quite a lot of pursuits, there’s quite a lot of factors of view. There are additionally quite a lot of sustainability groups throughout the group. Participating the proper individuals on the proper time is admittedly, actually key to being profitable and is commonly one of the vital difficult facets of the function.

Houde: And on condition that, what two abilities do you suppose are probably the most essential so that you can be efficient in your function?

Cacciola: I believe endurance and the flexibility to pay attention and be taught to grasp context and totally different factors of view is essential. The opposite ability is digesting massive quantities of data and synthesizing it into clear and easy suggestions. These two abilities are actually necessary for sustainability professionals. Material experience as the inspiration for all of it, however you’ve got to have the ability to do these two issues with a purpose to put your sustainability material experience into follow. 

Houde: Are there any particular credentials or levels or certifications you possibly can consider that somebody ought to take a look at to attempt to be in a task like yours? 

Cacciola: I at all times advocate educational expertise but in addition sensible or hands-on expertise. Whether or not it is by means of an internship with an organization or a fellowship, you really want to use the information that you have realized in a tutorial setting. I went to undergrad in [Washington, D.C.] so I did internships all by means of faculty with totally different organizations within the D.C. space. And that was undoubtedly useful for me to get that publicity. After which I interned with the Pupil Conservation Affiliation on a wildlife refuge in Alaska for a summer time. I do know quite a lot of professionals take part within the EDF Local weather Corps program, which is a wonderful program, too. So, there are applications on the market which you could look to past company-specific internship applications to get that broader expertise.

Shannon Houde is an ICF licensed profession and management coach who based Stroll of Life Teaching in 2009. Her life’s function is to allow change leaders to show their ardour into motion and to dwell into their potential — creating scalable social and environmental influence globally. To observe extra tales like these, be a part of Shannon for Espresso & Join the place she interviews sustainability practitioners each month to be taught extra about what their “day within the life” includes.


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