It’s not business as usual

Road rules: Alumna navigates the conscious capitalism path

A commitment to green power. Promoting ethical practices in the supply chain. Empowering girls and women through tech. Advancing a diverse workplace.

In the past decade, Intel has taken a leading role in conscious capitalism practices, also known today as corporate responsibility, corporate citizenship, and purposeful businesses. Suzanne Fallender (MBA ’06) has been a guiding force all along the way.

Fallender leveraged her early experience in the fields of corporate governance and socially responsible investing to help steer the global tech giant through myriad corporate responsibility and sustainability initiatives and milestones.

“From those early days in my career working on social investment to my time working at Intel, I have valued the opportunities I have had to help companies improve their performance by further integrating corporate responsibility practices into their operations,” says Fallender.

Intel’s work by teams across the company has garnered high praise in the corporate responsibility arena. The latest recognition came in December when the company took the top spot on the 2017 JUST 100 list, the annual Forbes and JUST Capital ranking of companies.

Light bulb moment

Fallender didn’t set out to devote her career to the field of corporate responsibility.

At Connecticut’s Trinity College, she concentrated on a double major in music and political science with a focus on Latin America, and entered a challenging job market looking for a position in international development. She shifted gears and took a position at a firm that performed research on global corporate governance issues.

Fallender figured that graduate school was just a few years away. But the firm grew quickly, and she ultimately was tapped to run its newly acquired, socially responsible investing research company.

Through that role, Fallender found herself engaging with people driving change around environmental and social performance inside their companies. It opened her eyes to new possibilities and, with that, Fallender was off and running.

A job opportunity for her husband brought the couple west, and Fallender pursued her W. P. Carey MBA. Though she specialized in management and marketing, Fallender says professors like Dean Amy Hillman supported her interest in corporate responsibility as she focused papers and projects on related topics.

Global leader

Fallender joined Intel a decade ago, after obtaining her MBA, and now serves as its director of corporate responsibility. The company is lauded for wide-ranging efforts, and four areas, in particular, are points of pride for Fallender, including:

  • Environment – Intel sources 100 percent of its U.S. power use and 80 percent of its global power use from renewable sources. Under a new goal, the company will restore 100 percent of the water it uses by 2025.
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  • Supply chain – Intel works to ensure minerals used in devices like laptops are conflict free, meaning those minerals are not helping finance violence in countries where they are mined. The company also addresses issues such as preventing human trafficking in the supply chain.
  • Diversity/inclusion – The company has set a goal to fully realize diversity and inclusion companywide, and is spending $300 million to grow inclusive practices within the company and its industry.
  • Social impact – Intel was an early leader in tech-based empowerment initiatives for girls and women worldwide, with efforts such as the Intel She Will Connect program. Fallender led a range of these efforts as director of the Intel  Global Girls and Women Initiative.

On the horizon

Fallender and her corporate responsibility office team work with internal groups to integrate corporate responsibility practices across the company, and also engage with external stakeholders to boost the company’s commitment to corporate responsibility. In addition, the team leads the company’s transparency and reporting strategy on corporate responsibility.

Their work has recently been recognized with an award for best CSR (corporate social responsibility) Disclosure by the industry publication Corporate Secretary. Meanwhile, Forbes has also highlighted Intel’s investor outreach on environmental, governance, and social issues, with Fallender driving a more integrated approach and working closely with the company’s investor relations and corporate governance groups.

Looking ahead, Fallender expects to see continued integration of corporate responsibility issues into investor policies and processes to enhance everything from data to governance practices. The supply chain and purchasing departments will also continue to be key players in promoting corporate responsibility.

More and more, employee engagement will be vital as companies look to attract and retain talent, and provide employees with more opportunities to get involved. 

— Suzanne Fallender

More and more, employee engagement will be vital as companies look to attract and retain talent, and provide employees with more opportunities to get involved, she says.

“I think it it’s an incredibly interesting and important time to be working in the field of corporate responsibility as more companies, investors, and other groups evolve their thinking around the value that sustainable business practices can create over the long term, and I’m very thankful for the skills, tools, and connections I gained during my time at W. P. Carey,” Fallender says.

On the grid: Utility leader champions sustainability in career and retirement

A young kid fresh out of ASU in the 1970s, Bill Post landed a position at Arizona Public Service (APS), one of the state’s largest utility companies. It was a good match — the company needed someone with computer experience at a time when the skill was hard to come by, and Post was a newly minted statistics grad versed in the technology.

The match would last for nearly 40 years, with Post working his way through APS to the top spot as chairman of the board and CEO of its parent company, Pinnacle West Capital Corp. Along the way, Post helped guide the company as it became one of the state’s leaders in sustainable business.

Working on the next act

In retirement, Post (BS Quantitative Systems ’73) is helping shape energy history — again.

Since 2010, Post has been a member of the board of directors of First Solar, an Arizona-based company focused on comprehensive solar solutions. He is also a board member of ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, the hub of the university’s sustainability initiatives.

For decades, Post’s name has been synonymous with energy. A W. P. Carey Hall of Fame inductee, he is recognized across the state and country for his work to boost the utility industry, foster sustainable business, and advance alternative energies.

Beyond that work, Post has been a community leader serving a variety of organizations. At ASU, he serves as a trustee, leads the ASU Foundation as board chairman, and is a principal for Campaign ASU 2020.

Climbing the corporate ladder

Post, a Tempe, Arizona, native whose first job as a paperboy included tossing newspapers at ASU, wasn’t thinking about charting a notable course when he walked through the doors at APS. He just needed a job.

“It wasn’t strategic,” Post says with a laugh.

But he couldn’t have chosen a more interesting period in history to join the utility.

An oil embargo placed on the United States in the 1970s led to fuel shortages, long lines at the pumps, rising prices, and calls for severe energy conservation. The 1970s also saw the beginning of a nuclear generator-building boom across the country.

At home in Arizona, demand for electricity was soaring along with the state’s population, and homeowners began replacing swamp coolers with air conditioners.

“It was a very dynamic time,” Post says. “Things were changing literally throughout the world.”

At APS, Post moved through several business areas, everything from forecasting to finance to nuclear energy. He became president and CEO of APS and president of Pinnacle West in February 1997. By 2001, he was chairman of the board of both companies.

During Post’s tenure, APS and Pinnacle West emerged as sustainable business leaders in the state of Arizona. APS was the first utility to join the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies, and also partnered with Intel to found Arizona Businesses Advancing Sustainability.

Sustainability to me is doing what you can to optimize energy use and increase its maximum value, while minimizing its impact. Sustainability to me is a higher goal. 

— Bill Post

APS was an early adopter of solar, building its first facility at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in the 1970s. The company’s Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station came online in the 1980s, and continues to be the nation’s largest energy producer.

In those early days, as the state’s energy needs grew, APS focused on incentivizing customers to reduce their use and minimize demand. The company rolled out dozens of programs and pricing models that, at times, were met with mixed reviews, Post recalls.

“We were coming out of the ’60s when more was better, bigger was better,” he says. “But you could see the value of doing these kinds of things. You could see the value of encouraging people to use energy in a much wiser manner.”

Coming full circle

Post’s work in the energy arena comes full circle today with a focus on sustainability and the future.

ASU’s Wrigley Institute is working to advance research, education, and business practices worldwide. Its School of Sustainability, of which Post was an original member of its board of directors and serves on it today, offers transdisciplinary degree programs designed to support and grow those efforts.

Post credits ASU for its linkages between the School of Sustainability and W. P. Carey. He sees that kind of “cooperation and integration” as vital to finding future solutions for sustainable business.

At First Solar, Post is charged with helping further the company’s mission to “create enduring value by enabling a world powered by clean, affordable solar electricity.” The company, he says, is positioned to take solar energy to the next level as a full-fledged industry, beyond drivers like financing mechanisms and tax credits.

Sustainability, ubiquitous today, wasn’t in the vernacular when Post got his start in the business so many years ago.

“It was really about conservation and reducing demand,” he says. “Sustainability to me is doing what you can to optimize energy use and increase its maximum value, while minimizing its impact.

“Sustainability to me is a higher goal.”

 

Update

The printed version of the profile feature in our Spring 2018 issue referred to Bill Post (page 11) as a founder of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. Post is an original member of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.
By Susie Steckner