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

Having spent 14 years pioneering sustainability at $16 billion meals and amenities 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 fancy 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 expertise 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 somewhat bit about your thrilling job at Google? 

Kathy Cacciola: Certain. 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 firms which can be managing the each day operations throughout our places. Coming from my function at Aramark, I am primarily on what we might name the consumer aspect. And fortunately, having that deep experience and data of what’s and isn’t attainable — and the place these challenges are — means we will have a mutual understanding as the inspiration for an excellent partnership. 

My present work sits underneath two fundamental 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 completely different initiatives reminiscent of 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 strategy.

There’s a very fascinating complexity to our group given the size at which we work, and the truth that the whole lot 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 effectively.

Houde: Do you could have 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 completely different stakeholders. For me having been at Aramark for 14 years, after which coming to Google, I misplaced my entire ecosystem of colleagues, a lot of whom are additionally expensive buddies. Fortunately, at Google, throughout the first few months of my function, a minimum of within the meals staff, our management staff gave quite a lot of house to only study, pay attention, take up 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 persistence and style to construct a robust basis in order that when you find yourself instructed to run, you are really capable of run. 

Houde: Do you could have any suggestions for people transitioning from careers in NGOs, authorities or assume tanks to the personal sector too? 

Cacciola: I’d simply take into consideration what expertise and experience you could have that may be utilized inside a distinct 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 expertise 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 are going to 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 subject material experience, and I used to be within the remaining interview course of with the president of the group. He checked out me and he mentioned, “Oh, you have no cocoa subject material experience.” And I mentioned, “You might have 40 individuals on workers who’ve cocoa subject material experience. The very last thing you want is yet another particular person with cocoa subject material experience. You want someone who is aware of find out how to ask these individuals the appropriate questions, after which apply the solutions.” (P.S. I did get the job provide.) Be able to pivot, and perceive what they are going to name you out on that’s lacking and have your reply as to how you are going to achieve success. 

Houde: Meals techniques are some of the expansive areas inside sustainability as a result of they’re so complicated. 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 general requirements and people requirements are undoubtedly not restricted to plastics and meals waste alone however embody an entire number of subjects 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 general or particularly related together with your bought items and companies — oftentimes the majority of a meals firm’s emissions. As soon as we’ve a way of what we’re buying, it’s then understanding what emissions are related to these purchases in order that we will proceed to scale back emissions over time as we drive in the direction of our web zero objective. 

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

Cacciola:Properly, I’d be remiss if I did not level out my love for the meals right here at Google (free wholesome snacks are all over the place!) and our meals program general. 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 general. The extent of ambition is kind of vital. Even the meals waste targets that we announced earlier this 12 months to chop meals waste in half for every Googler and ship zero meals waste to the landfill by 2025. As a lot of you is perhaps aware of, U.N. Sustainable Improvement Objective 12.3 units a objective to halve meals waste by 2030. Ours is by 2025. So it’s a go large or go dwelling perspective, and that stage of dedication and ambition is constant throughout the whole lot that we do. 

Houde: Inform us in regards to the challenges that you simply face frequently.

Cacciola: I’d say the most important problem is round navigating our ecosystem of stakeholders. The extent of complexity at Google is important. I associate with our personal meals staff, and we associate with all of our distributors, of which we’ve 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 appropriate individuals on the proper time is admittedly, actually key to being profitable and is usually some of the difficult elements of the function.

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

Cacciola: I believe persistence and the flexibility to pay attention and study to grasp context and completely different factors of view is important. The opposite ability is digesting giant quantities of knowledge and synthesizing it into clear and easy suggestions. These two expertise are actually vital for sustainability professionals. Subject material experience as the inspiration for all of it, however you could have to have the ability to do these two issues with the intention to put your sustainability subject material experience into observe. 

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 job like yours? 

Cacciola: I at all times advocate educational expertise but additionally sensible or hands-on expertise. Whether or not it is by way of an internship with an organization or a fellowship, you really want to use the data that you’ve got discovered in an instructional setting. I went to undergrad in [Washington, D.C.] so I did internships all by way of faculty with completely 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 season. I do know quite a lot of professionals take part within the EDF Local weather Corps program, which is a superb program, too. So, there are applications on the market that you may look to past company-specific internship applications to get that broader expertise.

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


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