Show Me the Money: How Sustainability Creates Revenue at Bloomberg
Curtis Ravenel dates his enthusiasm for purpose-driven business to his first job as a program associate with the National Recycling Coalition. “I got very interested in the idea that being an environmentalist need not hurt your economic opportunities,” he recalls.
But it would be some time before the notion defined Ravenel’s career.
Ravenel joined Bloomberg LP in 2002 as a financial analyst for internal operations. He eventually rose to a management position in the firm’s capital planning group. Still, his interest in reconciling environmental issues with business was dormant rather than defeated.
Recognized as a smart manager on the rise, in 2006 Ravenel was invited to participate in a global manager-training program. “One night they said to us, ‘We want you to come up with an idea for Bloomberg, and we want you to flesh it out a little bit. You have exactly 18 hours’”, he recalls.
“I shot out of bed at four o’clock the next morning,” Ravenel says. “It sounds corny, but I saw all of it.” By “it” he means what is today called BGreen – Bloomberg’s internal sustainability plan.
The culture at Bloomberg is unambiguously commercial. It is a business of selling data to make financial markets more efficient – an entity serving money-makers of all stripes. So Ravenel, who is today Bloomberg’s sustainability manager, envisioned an internal effort to reduce resource use that would focus just as heavily on financial savings as environmental benefits, with the cost-cutting accrued directly to the operating groups.
Once BGreen was selected for piloting, Ravenel summoned the guts to nominate himself as its leader. He soon saw that what he’d originally envisioned as an 18-month project had to become much more. “You have to have a full-time, permanent group that constantly pushes the envelope,” he says, because a temporary effort creates only temporary buy-in from business units. “If you’re not a permanent part of the work flow, once you walk away they go back to their old ways.”
To take the sustainability initiative company-wide, he hand-picked team members from key departments in the company, then set the bar high by telling them: “We have to be more professional, more business-minded, and have our shit more together than any other group, because there’s so much inherent skepticism about what we do.”
Read the full article on the Guardian here.
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