Explore a Career Sustainable Innovation, Jad Finck, VP Innovation & Sustainability @Allbirds

Jad Finck, VP of Innovation and Sustainability at Silicon Valley based eco-friendly woolen shoes company, Allbirds, shares his thoughts on what working in Sustainability is like.

Jad has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University, and MBA in Finance and Strategy, from University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business.

Jad will soon be hiring for his team, keep a lookout for openings on the Allbirds careers page here: www.allbirds.com/pages/careers If you're interested in applying, drop us an email with your resume and a few lines on why you want to work at Allbirds, at hello@learneducatediscover.com, so that we can share your resume with Jad.

Check out the podcast below to listen to the complete discussion! 

 

Some of the areas that Jad touches upon in this episode include:

1. What is Sustainable Innovation
2. Examples of projects - Scouting for new materials, Lifecycle Assessment, etc.
3. Types of activities a Sustainability expert might be work on during a project
4. Interesting and challenging aspects of the job
5. How to be effective at your job - Sustainability needs to be backed by leadership
6. How to assess importance of the sustainability function at a company by talking to people at the company - does it come up without you prompting them on it?
7. Resources: Conferences such as Bio Based Markets, World Bio markets, Sustainable Brands, Outdoor Retailer, etc.
8. How to stand out during recruiting - Have a point of view on what would you do if you were in our company

Transcript of the discussion:

[Jad]  02:08

Great to be here, Sonali. Thanks for having me.

 

[LED]  02:10

Of course, Jad. Can you tell us a little bit about what is sustainable innovation? And also, is it the same as the term sustainability because we hear that term also a lot.

 

[Jad]  02:45

So it Yes, sustainability is certainly a big part of it. But the real goal is to try to put an innovative bent on coming up with more sustainable materials, more sustainable processes, and not just progress for the sake of progress, but progress with a sustainable focus, a sustainable mission in mind. So as you mentioned, we are a footwear brand that started in San Francisco, California. And our goal is to introduce sustainable materials, sustainable processes, and ultimately help change the way people make things in a more sustainable way. So we're driving at trying to use new, as I mentioned, new materials and new processes and innovative ways. But really, always keeping in mind that we want to do them in a way that's less harmful to the planet that creates less waste, uses less energy, less carbon, etc. It's basically a filter on innovation, where it's more guided than just innovation for innovation sake, but innovation in order to keep delivering amazing products while still helping the planet.

 

[LED]  04:04

Got it. So you’re looking end to end, from manufacturing to marketing to sourcing to the product itself - all of it?

 

[Jad]  04:17

Yeah, one of the most immediate ways that we focused and that a lot of our early activities have been around is focused on material innovation. But we're also looking at ways to also introduce new processes about how we're making stuff. And then additionally, we're continually looking at our overall operations of where we can find savings, streamline. So it's got a priority of materials because we do sell a physical product, a product where we want to introduce sustainability with what really can be shown in ways that have consumer benefits. So instead of just doing something because it's purely good for the planet, we want to make sure it also delivers a consumer benefit at the same time because our power to change the way people make things is only as strong as we have a customer base. So we know that mission number one is make great products. But we want to always try to do it in a sustainable way. And in a way that people can tell a story about, hey, our shoes are made out of super fun merino wool. But really what most people tell each other, they say, Hey, that looks great. And that feels great. And the wool is the way we do it. So our big goal is to, is to almost, you know, hide the magic trick of sustainability in the, in the shell of just a beautiful product that you love for the product’s sake. And you might not even find out it's sustainable, until after you bought it, maybe you've read a follow up email, or you've read more about us on the website. But we think the most important part is to make a product that people love. And then in the long term brand halo effect is really where when they learn more about how we do stuff, they realize that we're being very intentional about the materials we use and the processes we use. We're making intentional steps and choices to be less harmful to the planet.

 

[LED]  06:23

Got it. So you’re really thinking through how to make a great product at every step, while making sustainable choices.

 

[Jad]  06:48

Yeah, so whereas in a different company, and in a larger company, maybe there's just pure innovation is their goal. And we've decided to really focus on a subset of that and say, look of all the different new projects we can do, let's have at the core of our mission, let's use all that energy to do something new. And really try to, to make sure that's got a sustainability story, something that's either renewable material, it's partially bio based, it's made out of plant materials, or it's been recycled, it's got a second life. So there's not one specific definition of sustainability in our mind, and really in the industry. But it's really more directional of, hey, there's a lot of choices you can make here, we're going to make choices that often take, some more work upfront, some more intentionality and designing it into the product, it's usually less obviously available. And in some cases, we're put we're going to be pushing things that are even coming out this year, that haven't ever been introduced. So. Yeah, it's really taking a subset of all the different things we could be working on and making sure that there's a sustainability reason for why we're, we're spending all this energy.

 

[LED]  08:14

Okay. And can you share an example where you may have had to make some sort of a trade off between consumer benefit versus sustainability?

 

[Jad]  08:25

Well see that that's actually I think, kind of a premise that has existed in the mind of the consumer till now. And that's actually, it's a great question, because it's at the core of our mission, is to drive it that and not make those choices, because that's we're going to if we're going to make it something where the consumer thinks, well, there's the good version, and then there's the sustainable version. They say, well, maybe I should buy this one. But really, I want to buy the higher performing one. That's just that's not a premise that we think that's kind of a lazy premise. I see. And, and so our goal is to find materials that actually enhance the consumer experience, I'd say, then we call those kinds of hero materials, will is a primary example. There are other examples where it's kind of there. They're kind of the lead actors in our products. But there's also kind of supporting roles we would say, these kinds of supporting materials, were really what we're doing is it's a like for like from a performance standpoint, but we're replacing synthetic petroleum based materials. And we're backing that out with a plant based material that's got equal or better performance, but sometimes it's equal. Sometimes it's not something consumer can notice. But we're still going to try to drive those choices to they're just, they're not as exciting as kind of these hero materials, something like a super fine merino wool, where you can feel it and see it and it's part of what makes it a beautiful product. But we're also going to try to back out control And synthetics and traditional incumbent materials that that are really heavy on the planet, they're, they have a heavy impact on the planet for one reason or another, whether it's oil or water usage or energy usage. But really, when it comes down to it, if we're trying to pick out something to put into our shoe, that makes a choice between sustainability and consumer benefit, then we're going the wrong direction, and it doesn't meet our target. So we'll keep working on it. Because that's, that's not gonna be ultimately a sustainable product, because people aren't gonna buy.

 

[LED]  10:36

Yeah. So I want to take a quick pause here. I'm curious about how yourself got interested in sustainability. What led you to this field?

 

[Jad]  10:47

Sure, well, I really ultimately started out with a fascination in energy. And I just was always fascinated about how vital it was to pretty much the entire planet. And it was such an everyday vital industry. And I quickly found that the edge of it that was the most exciting to me was the real progressive edge, the New Energy, the renewable energy, the bio based biofuel type of energy. So I really followed my curiosity there, and found my way into kind of renewable energy, renewable material investing. And, ultimately dove into the startup world of renewable energy and renewable materials. And so I was commercializing renewable materials. Then I met one of my colleagues, who ended up becoming one of the cofounders of Allbirds. And we were commercializing renewable materials in a variety of different industries. And now, through this new brand that he was building, it was an opportunity to rather than pushing renewable materials onto other brands and trying to get them to buy we had the opportunity now to say, we're the brand we're gonna pull in these materials. And,  there's no one to say no, anymore, we get to control the story, we get to control the way it's communicated to the consumer, and how it's designed into the product in a way that, as we just mentioned, isn't, isn't reducing the the product, but it's actually adding consumer benefit. So that's really how I came in it was through the energy side, and ultimately into pulling these renewable materials into a product.

 

[LED]  12:52

Can you give a quick summary of your background?

 

[Jad]  12:56

So I have a mechanical engineering degree and an MBA, so a combination of technical and business and I have spent time in everything from detailed design engineering to sales and business development around the world.

 

[LED]  13:15

So speaking as an outsider, you do not have any specialization as such in materials or energy. Is that needed to work in this field, or you can learn it on the job?

 

[Jad]  13:29

I would say, I mean, that there are a variety of roles. So I have spent, yeah, a big part of my career in the renewable energy and renewable material space. I do have deep experience, there. Coming out of school, you're correct, I didn't have a specialized degree in renewable materials, and I didn't have a specialized degree in sustainability. So my education was more general from an engineering and business side of things, but my work experience is where I specialized but the backgrounds in sustainability span degrees from environmental studies, to earth sciences to numerical degrees, mathematical degrees, biology degrees. Sometimes it's graduate level work. On the material innovation side, there are very specialized types of degrees, folks in polymer science folks in textile, textile, science, material science. So there's kind of a full spectrum of quite natural science based all the way to strategy and, and more of the business side of it. 

 

[LED]  14:40

Right. That makes sense. So let's say I am someone who's working in sustainability. What kind of projects could I find myself working on?

 

[Jad]  14:54

So I'll give you a couple examples.

 

One project could be scouting for a new hero material for a new shoe product. And that can be everything from using networks to scan through new materials, networking, going to conferences, reviewing lots of different industries, kind of innovation, newsletters, and just staying very current on what's new, what's out there, and setting up calls, meetings, etc. To review new materials, ultimately sample those materials, study the properties, work with product teams to introduce tests, taking those all the way through initial tests to introduce them into some products, full commercial prototypes were testing, and then ultimately, commercial release. So one might be following a material all the way from an idea, which could be I'd like something softer, that's breathable, I'd like something that's a little bit cool to the touch, but it's still strong. So we like to start with a simple, something as simple quality that could be understood by a non expert. So that would be on the material innovation side. 

 

On the sustainability side, a classic example would be lifecycle analysis or lifecycle assessment, often called an LCA. And that's where you study, the full lifecycle of product for in our case, would be a shoe as a classic study. And you'd study everything from where the material originates, how it gets converted, how it gets transported to an area where it's assembled. And all of the materials and the energy used to get it. They're all the different processes, from sewing, to ironing, to cutting, to injection molding, and then how this product ultimately gets transported to the point of sale, and then to the customer through the use of the product, and ultimately the end of life. And it's kind of a accounting method of measuring all of these different activities, working with software databases that have libraries to draw from, and then ultimately coming up with a carbon footprint and energy footprint, kind of a scorecard for the product that we can use, both internally and externally to communicate various choices we made and some of the benefits. And then ultimately using that as kind of a map or heat map for us internally and database to be able to design things from the beginning with the lowest possible footprint. So first, we study it, kind of looking at what we've already done. That's kind of the step one, phase one. And then a more elevated phase would be when we can actually use it to probe more proactively as we're and spread that out to the full design team. So it becomes something more than just what the sustainability expert knows, but that everyone gets a better sense and has usable tools to make decisions that maintain their performance, but give them a more eco friendly product.

 

[LED]  18:44

In the beginning when you said that one of the sample products could be that you're going out scouting for new materials, I was imagining someone going to the Amazon forest and looking for new materials :D

 

[Jad]  18:58

Well, it's not that crazy! I do have a pretty busy schedule, and it does take us internationally. So there are some exciting things, there's literally some scouting, that is a part of it. And yeah, that sounds exciting. Not everything is gonna be something you can get at a conference on your computer.

 

[LED]  19:26

What’s a typical day for someone who in this role? Maybe let's take one of these projects and just go one level deeper, like maybe the material science one, if that's more interesting for you, that from the beginning, who is defining this vision that why don't we try and come up with a material that's softer or something which is more resilient, or whatever it may be, and then the kind of things that this expert might do to then finally get to some sort of closure on the project.

 

[Jad]  20:00

Sure, well, there's different ways that this can be done. And a lot of it has to do with both the stage and kind of the personality of the company. I'm speaking a lot about this from the standpoint of our company, Allbirds and our stage. And we're relatively early stage, but we've been growing very fast. So I mean, from a time perspective, we're early. But we are growing really fast. And so we've got big ambitions, we're going after some big projects. But we still have a bit of an improvisational, a very collaborative environment. And that's my intention. We don't have rigid roles, everyone has their responsibilities, but we don't. I like to say sometimes it feels like we're songwriters, and we're coming up with new songs, and people riff off of each other, somebody who is working on product development might have a design, a design suggestion, and somebody who's in charge of design might have a material suggestion. And we have a kind of a very collaborative, very interactive team. And sometimes, with that background, the reason I'm setting that stage is because sometimes some of these projects will be from the material back, where I'll find something that I think is great for the group, I'll bring it back to the group, and we have no idea what product it's going to be used in. And I bring it back for people to feel it physically, we've got a real creative space where we have a lot of these materials around, and the designers will have sketches, we'll try to set up areas that are specific to a new project or a new concept. And we kind of surround ourselves with sketches with materials with swatches. And so that's kind of the earlier stage, I would say, then it starts to get a bit more specific, and we actually have a design process with different stages that we kind of move a project through in order to make sure that we're sticking to a commercialization timeline that fits the overall company. But the early part of the funnel is pretty improvisational, and the ideas can come from all over, then it starts getting more rigid, and we start moving into more tests. But I mean, a typical day could be first of all, we produce stuff internationally, it's quite common in the footwear industry, our material is from New Zealand, it’s processed in Italy, and it's assembled in Korea. So we work a lot with our manufacturing groups to do a lot of sampling. So you might come in in the morning and be checking the emails with results from various tests that we've asked for our new materials to come back from our sampling partner are our prototyping partner in Asia, catching up on scanning through some blogs of or some newsletters of some new materials from polymer science from bio based materials from new ways of recycling materials and minimizing waste. And then moving into some project team meetings where we're updating on various individual responsibilities, checking to see have we How far are we, from finishing the latest prototype of a project or product, and then we might move into later in the day, a meeting with marketing where we're getting ready to start a storytelling about a product that's coming out in a couple months, and we're feeding them the results of some of the lifecycle analyses and starting to show and get them familiar with some of the more interesting consumer benefits and the history or the origin of some of these new materials that we're putting into the shoe. And, and they might be building a video or new web content based on this material. So, it does scan quite a bit, various activities, no day is the same. But those are various activities that would happen through I'd say, a material innovation project or work stream.

 

[LED]  24:34

What you just described - is it more specific to the tech industry or is this reasonably consistent if you think about any physical product, across industries, in this context?

 

[Jad]  24:59

Yeah, no, I think there's going to be different nuances. As you go into non physical product you get into it into classic tech products, there's a much faster lifecycle on certain prototypes something that can be replicated digitally and consumer tested digitally, we've got a much more necessarily drawn out process, when, when it comes to physical production sometimes there are, you might make changes to the sole, the design of the sole of the shoe, kind of the foam, bottom part of the shoe, that you step on that contact with the ground, the process to change that is dramatically slower than making a change to the materials in the softer upper part of the shoe. And, certainly dramatically slower than updating a web based product or an app based product. Yeah, where you're changing lines of code quite rapidly. So, yeah, I mean, that, I think there's a lot of similarities in kind of the pipeline, and innovation approach. But, the timeline is one of the biggest areas of difference. And then I think it's also a lot less rigid, I would say, certainly, in a startup. And we don't have necessarily the same kind of protocols that you'd have, if you've got to be checking lines of code and bug checking. 

 

[LED]  26:53

Yeah, and just a very quick follow up, I don't quite understand what a sustainability person will do in a purely digital product.

 

[Jad]  27:03

Right. So if the product, if it's a purely digital product, there's not going to be this the exactly the same roles, unless it's obviously a product that's directed at some sort of sustainability measurements or tracking, there might be a tracking software, that's helping you track carbon usage across the supply chain, fuel usage across the supply chain. So if the content of the product is sustainability, then that's designed in from the very beginning, I'd say more often than not on, on the tech side of things it's going to be more somebody looking at operations. So if a company gets big enough, they're going to have a big footprint. And so there would be more of a sustainability type of role where somebody's looking at power usage, somebody's looking at your data centers, he's looking at how you're cooling down your data centers, what power you're using, and as it pertains more to the tech side, there's definitely a huge sustainability components and sustainability efforts that need to be driven and tested and, and, and communicated. But yes, it's a little bit different when, when it comes to the materials innovation side is going to be less by definition, less of a component of that work and sustainability of their operations. And their impact will be more, more of a priority.

 

[LED]  28:32

Yeah, that makes sense. So, then coming to some of the more qualitative aspects of the role, in your opinion, what do you think are the most interesting aspects of working in this field?

 

[Jad]  28:44

Well, I think being able to use all of this fairly technical, underlying work to tell beautiful, simple stories, I think, is is one of the most fascinating to me, and that's a particular goal, and I think skill of ours is taking what is sometimes confusing, complicated and even mundane sometimes and turning it into something beautiful and simple, that consumers can understand and, and appreciate without inundating them with wonky details. So I love being able to scout and test and work with partners on new. I mean, we've got programs coming out where we're working on materials that have never been introduced. And so doing things for the first time is a blast, but doing things in a way that we can allow and help other companies ultimately copy us. Because, for our effect, to be as big as we want it to be for it to be material to the world. We can't just do things that are exclusive to us. We may keep it under the lid until we announce it. But, when we announce it, we want to explain to everybody how we do it. And we want them to follow us.

 

[LED]  30:51

Are there any aspects about working in sustainability that you do not like?

 

[Jad]  30:58

Well, I mean, in sustainability, in the overall space were working, I think I touched on one of the frustrations a little bit is, sometimes the timelines, when you're making something physical and tactile, there's a lot of benefits, there's a lot of reward, because it is something you can see around, you can look around the city, you can see it in other countries already and seeing in airports around the world. That's very rewarding. But the frustration of making something physical is how long it can take. And there are necessary waiting periods on certain processes, where you've got to kind of stagger the work and get and just be ready for these certain lag times that have to make their way through the system, and so on. On the production side, I'd say that's one of the big frustrations on the sustainability side, there's huge amount of detail, there's a huge amount of complexity to try to get all of the various steps of our processes, analyzed in a correct way. And try not to spend all of our time studying what we've already done and convert that into something that's kind of fit for purpose, and that actually affects the decisions we make. So I think sometimes sustainability can get a little lost and looking at what you've already done. And kind of navel gazing almost and spending lots and lots of time on accounting for something that you've already done. And not enough time in effecting decisions that haven't been made yet. And so I think that's just a constant challenge that, especially with a small group, we're trying to limited resources, trying to stay scrappy, and stay efficient. I'd say that's a, it's a challenge that is part of what we're always trying to improve on every day.

 

[LED]  33:04

Yeah, and also speaking as an outsider, I would imagine that sustainability, and investing in sustainability is the kind of thing that the company's leadership should be behind it. Because otherwise from a career perspective, you may end up in a small group in a large company that no one really cares about. Have you heard about such instances? 

 

[Jad]  33:30

Absolutely, I'm glad you raised that point. Because I had to struggle a little bit to think about what, I'm frustrated about, because I think I'm in a fortunate position, because from the very beginning, Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger, our two founders, put sustainability in the story, and in the mission, from the very beginning are the three pillars that they decided to found this brand on, to start this brand start this company, with comfort, design and sustainability. And we didn't want to, and we're not going to compromise on any one of those. And our belief is that you can nail all three of those things, and we want to be known for really nailing all three of those. We want people to think of that, when they think of Allbirds. And so, when they founded the company, when they raised the initial money when they hired the initial team. It's been a part of the story and the mission from the very beginning. So that's made my job - I wouldn't say easy, but it's got support, that they've allowed us, my team and the whole company to really make bold decisions in those areas and feel supported. And that's critical because yeah, if you'd ask me, and there are countless examples of this in big companies where sustainability is more of a compliance initiative. It's more of something that they feel like they have to do to try to keep up with other companies. It's viewed as something that's always going to take away from their main mission. Yeah. And I think that's changing pretty quickly. And one of the industries that’s changing is consumer facing companies with products where people are asking more about more than just “Hey, do I like the product” but “what am I clicking on?” Now I want to learn about your company and how you do this. So there's more people reading about us about our process, how we do this, what's our promise? And so I'm fortunate to be in a company that's had that from the beginning, it's happening more and more. But yeah, I can definitely say if you don't feel the support from the very top leadership, sustainability can be a very lonely place. 

 

[LED]  35:48

Yeah. And if I'm, as a candidate, let's say I'm interested in working in this space, is there a way for me to assess how important sustainability is for a particular company from the outside?

 

[Jad]  36:01

Yeah I think, from the outside, to be frank, what most companies have gotten really good at is public facing copy and photos. So most of the time, it's going to look beautiful, no matter what. 

 

I think you've got an informational interview, you've got to use your networks, you’ve got to reach out on LinkedIn, and all the various outlets and talk to people and get a gut feel based on what do people talk about when you don't necessarily ask them about it. Does it ever come up without even asking them? What do they say when you talk about the mission, or the values of the company? Is that baked into what people tell you without having to prompt them on it? So yeah, I would definitely say it's not easy. But if this is the world you're getting into, you've got to assess that for yourself. And I would definitely not rely on glossy documents, because I think Yeah, unfortunately, I think a lot of the companies that were it's the most frustrating are the ones with the glossiest documents, the biggest PDF reports. As they, like I said, one of the frustrations, spending all your time kind of talking about what you're doing anyway, and trying to make it look as good as possible, rather than focusing on the future and trying to design it into what you do all the time. 

 

[LED]  37:25

And now that you've spent so much time in the space, I'm sure you run into a lot of people who are entering this field. Do you think that people who are on the outside tend to have any common misconceptions about the space?

 

[Jad]  37:43

I would say the one of them was a question we talked about at the top of the session, I think thinking about sustainability, as a big major trade off and, and trying to figure out how sustainable can we make this without degrading the product too far? And if you find yourself in those kinds of situations, and I don't think you're being creative enough, I don't think you're you're really using the best of what's out there. And so that, I think that's one of the biggest misconceptions is that when you do it right, it can really add to the product. And if it's not, keep working on it, keep looking for something different and find some other ways to incorporate it into your product where it adds value. And it's something they're going to like it more for not less.

 

[LED]  38:45

Great! So then just a few more questions from the point of view of someone who is interested in working in this space. So let's say you have to think about five key qualities that you would find in someone who would be absolutely amazing at this job, what would they be?

 

[Jad]  39:15

Sure, well to upgrade, curiosity, I'd say have a voracious appetite for the new. Being able to have your antenna out in the world and be the first to know stuff and not have to wait for everyone to tell you. I would say certainly somebody can roll the punches and be comfortable with ambiguity, somebody who's improvisational, scrappy, and unstoppable. I think there are a lot of headwinds and oftentimes, innovation, innovative materials, especially sustainable innovative materials can be new and can be expensive. In the early days, until you get other companies to adopt them. So they can be more difficult to work with when you first get them. And so it's oftentimes there's a lot of reasons why somebody else hasn't used an innovative new product is sitting on the shelf, there's, you need to be a bit relentless, and a bit unstoppable, a little bit foolhardy that to keep charging ahead and need to be interactive have some fun with it. Because it's a challenging projects. Doing something for the first time is always challenging. So, yeah, I think that would be a pretty good toolkit.

 

[LED]  40:47

Yeah. And it definitely sounds like a role, which requires a fair amount of creativity. One thing, which I'm curious about is that structurally speaking, if you're in sustainability, are you more of an influencer? Who says that? Okay, what, here are these three materials, which would be absolutely wonderful to help make your shoe, let's say softer? And then some sort of a product manager is figuring it out? And then you have to sort of influence them one way or the other? Or do you? Are you a member of the team who is accountable for certain decisions?

 

[Jad]  41:24

Well, I'm on the leadership team. But as far as the overall roles on a typical team, I think you're right. So it's always a fair amount of influencing, we're in a high growth stage, where we have a probably less structure and a lot of ways than a company of our size, and typically have been influenced is a huge piece of it, I think you're right on with that you've got to make a case for the product you've got or for the introduction, the component, etc, you got to have an eye on the hole, you can't just throw something new over the fence and expect it to find its way into a product, you've kind of got to become your own advocate. And you've got to have the whole process in mind of how is this going to function in the product? How is this? What's the story going to be? What's the cost? How are we going to build this into the overall cost of the product? Are there places we can save in order to kind of afford this new, potentially premium component? So you've got to have an eye on the whole business case of what you're introducing, or it's really not gonna, it's not gonna make it pass the fence that you've thrown it over? So yeah, I would say, being an influencer, and being able to see the whole picture. And ultimately, in some cases an advocate and an influencer, I think, I think is very strong, because there are lots of different filters, it's got to get through to get it into the project, or project,

 

[LED]  43:08

Right. So just getting a little bit tactical here, sustainable innovation is a big field. In terms of the kind of roles one could consider, I'm sure, there are a lot of fairly technical roles. So you might be doing a lot of research in a particular area, you might be a chemist, or you might have specialization in some other materials. And there might be a whole class of roles around that. But let's say I'm from more of a non technical slash business background, what kind of roles can I think about?

 

[Jad]  43:42

Well, I think it has to do with the stage of the company, I think obviously, the bigger the company, the more specific the roles are going to be. And the more opportunity there would be for both, I'd say specialty roles, that could be very technical, as well as more entry level and more, generalist type roles. I'd say when the company is smaller, you need to be kind of a look, depending on the stage of the company, you have to be ok with the happy medium of being able to either bring in some sort of specialty knowledge or be very, very fast learner and be comfortable with getting functional in some of those areas very quickly, without relying on a specialist on either side of you to help you get the details. So you've got to be a bit of both. You've got to figure out how to get broad and get a little depth quickly. So the earlier the company I think the faster learner the faster with ambiguity, or the more ease of ambiguity you need. But certainly there are roles, in sustainability analytical roles and roles where you're looking at strategy of where the company needs to focus their efforts. Looking at operations, not necessarily products sustainability, but operations sustainability. And, and then roles that really more the line or kind of cross the lines into the marketing or storytelling side of things, where somebody who's got to be helping pull together the work that's going on on the more technical side, and tying it all the way over into marketing and being able to bridge the gap on both sides.

 

[LED]  48:01

I'm sure it's very competitive - what kind of things do you look for, which helps a candidate stand out?

 

[Jad]  48:14

Certainly love to see a strong education. And what stands out I think, is somebody who's had increasing levels of responsibility. But really, somebody has been able to communicate pretty concisely, some impact they've had not just listing activities, but listing impact projects, where they've been able to take charge and create something out of nothing. And then the resume is part of it. But really, I think showing intentionality and showing the ability to either communicate, what you've been what you've known from an industry you've come from, but oftentimes, if somebody's new to the space, that's not necessarily a red flag, if they can show that they've done research, that they've developed opinions and they've got instincts and can talk intelligently about not just what they think we're good at, or not good at, or but they can think beyond their role they can think about what would they do if they were in our company, I'd say that's probably the most impressive and what stands out is I don't just want to have a conversation about all the stuff you've done in your past and that and let that be impressive enough to say yes to I want to see you take the leap and with limited ability to see inside the company. Take your best guess at what, how you'd be adding value and show me that you've got instincts and opinions about what we're doing or trying to do and try to tell us something we don't know because of research you've done. And something you might have found out in the industry that is doing something differently as something that you admire. Chances are we've probably aware of it, because it's what we do every day. But certainly you're going to impress us if you found something we don't know at all about, and you'll still impress us if you've got opinions about something that's relevant to us that we already know about.
 

[LED]  50:55

All right. This was super helpful, Jad. Is there any other advice you'd like to share for someone who's still relatively new in their career, either in the field of sustainability or general career advice?

 

[Jad]  51:59

Well, I would say, it's still a young space with a lot of low hanging fruit. And it's increasingly becoming a part of how people buy, how people consume, how people use products. So I think it's a golden time to be getting into this. It's nowhere near too late really, I think, just the beginning of a golden age of doing this. There are more and more people caring about not just what people are doing, but how they're doing it. And these types of roles really have that dictum from the beginning. So I think it's a golden time to be driving towards sustainable innovation.

Thank you for listening!! 

 

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