60 Seconds with…Andrew Winston, Winston Eco-Strategies
Modern Materials Handling editors sat down with Andrew Winston, Author and founder of Winston Eco-Strategies. He has 25 years of experience working with executives to understand how managing environmental and social issues creates business value.
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Title: Author and founder
Location: Greenwich, Conn.
Experience: 25 years in corporate strategy and helping large companies navigate in a volatile world.
Duties: Work with executives to understand how managing environmental and social issues creates business value.
Modern: Let’s begin with a definition. First and foremost, do you think of this area as corporate responsibility or sustainability?
Winston: I think of it as corporate strategy. I believe the environmental and social challenges we’re facing are core to business and are the biggest issues companies need to deal with. So yes, it’s sustainability and responsibility, but it’s not about the polar bears. It’s really about business strategy, planning and operations. If you think strategically, sustainability encompasses multi-trillion dollar markets that are up for grabs in construction, manufacturing, banking, food and supply chains.
Modern: Does sustainability mean something different to every company?
Winston: It is certainly different by industry and sector. But what I really find companies asking today is: What is their role—and the role of business—in society today? They’re setting goals based on their impact on very large issues and improving their standing and their business performance.
Modern: There has been a lot of talk by the new administration about rolling back regulations to make it easier for business to operate. At the same time, consumers want to support responsible companies. In the age of social media, do you expect companies to forgo their sustainability initiatives and risk backlash on Facebook or Twitter?
Winston: Well, there is some evidence that some companies are slowing down. The auto companies are happy to untie themselves from the Obama-era mileage standards. But I haven’t heard any company say that it is going to slow down on its efforts to reduce carbon emissions, and I truly believe the clean economy will continue. We won’t stop the progress on the clean economy, it’s whether we’ll go fast enough on clean carbons and evidence is that we won’t. The result, I believe, is that we’re going to be so much less competitive as a country, all for the sake of the mythical protection of coal jobs. Why we want more of those in our society is beyond me.
Modern: You just moderated a roundtable on sustainability at ProMat. What was your takeaway on the efforts of our industry?
Winston: I think it was a good sign, clearly, that the association wanted to start the conference with a conversation on sustainability, and there are some really good companies doing this. The DC at REI uses half the energy it needs and puts the rest back into the grid; UPS operates its network much more efficiently than in the past. These are good signs. I didn’t spend a ton of time on the show floor, but clearly automation and technology were the big topics. But, I think anyone buying equipment today wants energy efficiency as part of the package. So, I’m sure that’s part of the industry today.
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