Sustainability at Work: Christopher Wellise on the Intersection of Business and Sustainability

December 20, 2023 | Reskill Your Workforce | 5 min read

Maybe you recycle. Maybe you drive an electric vehicle. Individuals certainly play a critical role in making the world around us more sustainable.

But true change tends to happen at the enterprise level. The bigger the organization, the more impactful their decisions tend to be on society at large. That’s why careers in sustainability are no longer just nice-to-have within organizations, they're a necessity.

But many professionals wonder where to start and how to garner the skills necessary to be successful. Christopher Wellise was one of those people. He has dedicated his professional career to sustainability and helping organizations execute sustainable workflows, practically and responsibly.

Meet Christopher Wellise

Wellise is an accomplished leader in sustainability. As the Vice President of Global Sustainability at Equinix, he brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the role, driving Equinix's sustainable business strategy and innovation.

See how Equinix has built a robust safety training program, globally.

Wellise has an impressive academic background, holding a Bachelors in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master's degree in International Relations and Economics from Johns Hopkins University. He has dedicated more than a decade of his career to Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), serving in various roles that include Director of ESG Strategic Initiatives, and Director of Sustainability and Social Innovation.

“When I went to university, I always knew I wanted to work at the intersection of business and environment, but no one really knew what that looked like then. So, my educational background is actually business finance, and I have a master's degree in environmental science. I really continued to push myself to work at that intersection. And really that’s when I began my career.”

Wellise's passion for sustainability and his dedication to driving change are evident in his work. He is a strong advocate for leveraging technology and innovation to solve some of the world's most pressing environmental challenges. His leadership in this space is a testament to his commitment to creating a more sustainable and inclusive future.

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The Intersection of Business and Sustainability

As corporations wield significant influence over our planet's resources, their operational strategies can profoundly impact environmental sustainability.

Discover everything your organization needs to know about ESG here.

Let's review three key areas where business and environment intersect: resource use and efficiency, waste management, and climate change mitigation.

  1. Resource Use and Efficiency: Businesses rely on natural resources for their production processes, whether it's water for manufacturing, raw materials for products, or energy for operations. The way these resources are managed significantly impacts the environment. Efficient use of resources not only reduces environmental harm but also decreases operational costs, making sustainability a smart business strategy.
  2. Waste Management: Every business generates waste, from physical byproducts to emissions. Effective waste management strategies, such as recycling and adopting circular economy principles, can help businesses reduce their environmental footprint while potentially creating new revenue streams.
  3. Climate Change Mitigation: Businesses play a crucial role in addressing climate change. By adopting sustainable practices, like switching to renewable energy sources and investing in carbon offset projects, businesses can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, these actions can enhance brand reputation and attract environmentally conscious customers and investors.

Understanding these issues provides a comprehensive view of how businesses can contribute to environmental preservation while also benefiting their bottom line.

Do you have the right opinions on your ESG steering committee? Find Out

Getting Down to Business

And as the demand for sustainability professionals continues to grow, there are multiple ways for professionals with business backgrounds to embark on a career in ESG.

  • Volunteering: Volunteering provides an excellent opportunity to understand an organization's needs and explore how you might assist. It allows you to gain hands-on experience in sustainability while also demonstrating your commitment to potential employers.
  • Upskilling: With the rise of green careers, improving your green skills has become essential. This could be through vocational training or earning sustainability credentials. Such skills not only enhance your employability but also prepare you for emerging career opportunities.

Read more about Skillsoft’s new sustainability training options.

  • Networking: Building relationships within the sustainability sector can open up job opportunities and provide valuable insights into the industry. Engage with professionals, attend industry events, and join sustainability-focused groups to expand your network.

Christopher’s advice: start a meter deep and 100 meters wide.

Remember, sustainability is a broad field with a variety of roles. Researching the industry, identifying your areas of interest, and tailoring your strengths to these areas can help you find a career path that aligns with your passion and skills.

A career in sustainability means you are part of a global movement, working to safeguard our resources and create a more equitable, sustainable future for all.

Christopher Wellise's journey is a testament to what can be achieved when passion meets purpose. And remember, it's not only about what you can do for the environment but also how your actions can create ripple effects that improve corporate culture, increase operational efficiency, and even boost the bottom line.

The intersection of business and sustainability is not just an emerging trend—it's the future. It's about understanding and optimizing resource use, managing waste effectively, and playing a significant role in climate change mitigation. And it's a realm where innovative problem-solvers, strategic thinkers, and passionate advocates for the environment are desperately needed. Whether you start by volunteering, upskilling, or networking, every step you take is a move toward a greener and more sustainable future.

Remember, start a meter deep and 100 meters wide. There are countless opportunities in this field, waiting for individuals to dive in and make a difference.

Interested in other career paths in sustainability? Check out the series!