Corporate Citizenship Blog

Corporate Citizenship Career Path: Executive Forum

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Sep 21, 2016 8:00:00 AM

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The following is excerpted from Issue 17 of The Corporate Citizen. To learn more about how you can develop the strategies and skills that will prepare you to lead your teams and colleagues to a new level, consider applying for our Leadership Academy, which will be help on campus at Boston College November 14-18. Also, check back for further insights from our Executive Forum in future Career Path installments.

For more than six years, the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship has benefited from the guidance and expertise of its Executive Forum. This unique network brings together senior-level professionals from a wide range of industries to provide corporate citizenship leadership, inspiration, and knowledge, and influence the public discourse of the role of business in society. Here, a sampling of Forum members share their journeys to corporate citizenship leadership, as well as what they’ve learned along the way.

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Executive Forum at the 2016 International Corporate Citizenship Conference

Stangis.jpgDave Stangis | @DaveStangis
Vice President, Public Affairs & Corporate Responsibility, Campbell Soup Company; President, Campbell Soup Foundation

How did you enter the field of corporate citizenship?
I entered the field from science and engineering field. The early part of my career was in the Environment, Health and Safety area and grew out of operational jobs at an automotive, utility, and technology manufacturing company.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Work is frustrating—that’s why they call it work, I believe. You’ll know pretty early what you want to drive. Keep pushing in that area—the results are very rewarding.

What is the most important behavior or practice you employ to advance your corporate citizenship program?
Listen, listen, and listen, then do your best to translate and align. Push as hard as physically possible, but also as gently as possible. Your best ideas only work if others believe they are theirs.
What advice would you give to those beginning their corporate citizenship career?
Embrace the frustration. Be very impatient, but take the long view. Be the best in the job you have today and you’ll never have to worry about “what’s next?”

Hornick.jpgLori Harnick | @LoriHarnick
Chief Operating Officer, Microsoft Philanthropies

How did you enter the field of corporate citizenship?
After a 20-year career in corporate communications and public affairs, I was asked to lead Microsoft’s corporate citizenship & public affairs team. As a storyteller, I was asked to bring an “outside-in” perspective to our programs to further develop them in ways that would shine a spotlight on the root causes of the challenges faced by the people and communities we serve, and call attention to new and creative solutions to those challenges.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career? The most important behavior or practice you employ to advance your corporate citizenship program?
In doing this work, I learned the importance of partnership and long-term investments to truly drive a paradigm shift in the lives of people and communities worldwide. This importance is driven home with each visit I make to our local markets around the world, so those visits are a core and critical practice that I have built into my leadership responsibilities.

What advice would you give to those beginning their corporate citizenship career?
True change requires boldness, experimentation, taking a new view of an entrenched problem. Most of all, it requires learning from others! There are many strong shoulders to stand upon as you reach for new heights—enjoy!

Casimiro.jpgJorge G. Casimiro | @pdxcinco
Vice President, Global Community Impact, NIKE

How did you enter the field of corporate citizenship?
Corporate citizenship/social impact really wasn’t a “thing” when I was in school or when I started my career…at least there wasn’t a name for it. It has been exciting to see the growth and evolution in this space—especially in the last 10 years. We’re now beginning to see the positive community impact that’s possible when business takes a strategic approach and makes it an integrated component of a brand or business priority. I see it every day in the work we do at NIKE. We’re committed to helping reverse the trend of physical inactivity for kids. The opportunity to bring NIKE’s innovation and inspiration to this global challenge is truly exceptional, and a dream come true. I have the best job on the planet!

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career? The most important behavior or practice you employ to advance your corporate citizenship program?
At this risk of sounding like a message or quote from my high school yearbook, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to be yourself and stay curious. Yes, it’s also important to accept feedback, evolve your style, and be agile with different leadership styles, but ultimately it’s critical to be authentic to who you are. In terms of advancing corporate citizenship, it is absolutely fundamental to understand both the business side and the social impact side to comprehend the full picture. The huge unlock is understanding the points of integration and interaction for these two areas—that’s what catalyzes change and drives impact. This is also how you truly integrate social impact work into the core of a business. One analogy I like to use is that of translator—a corporate citizenship professional needs to know how to speak both languages.

What advice would you give to those beginning their corporate citizenship career?
I would offer three thoughts. The first is specific to corporate citizenship, the other two are enablers to that work!

  1. Take the time to understand the business you’re in—how it works, how it creates value, its growth strategies, and its culture. You should know how to read and engage with the financial side of the business, including reading financial reports. These are as important as the social impact assessments, corporate citizenship reports, evaluation, and stakeholder engagement.
  2. Use your powers for good—if you’re reading this, chances are this is a moot point. We’ve all got amazing, unique gifts and we can use them to make an impact in our communities, locally and globally. Always keep that in mind.
  3. Watch out for social media—it doesn’t matter if you’re in high school or a retiree. Think about what you post before you post it or share it.

Holmes.jpg

Deborah K. Holmes | @DeborahKHolmes
Americas Director, Corporate Responsibility, EY

How did you enter the field of corporate citizenship?
I entered the field of corporate citizenship as a segue from a career in diversity (with a focus on gender equity), which was itself a segue from a career in work-life balance, which was itself a segue from a career in law. Life takes funny turns!

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career? The most important behavior or practice you employ to advance your corporate citizenship program?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to line up allies— and to treat criticism as useful input. The most important behavior or practice I employ to advance our corporate citizenship program: continuous learning.

What advice would you give to those beginning their corporate citizenship career?
Make sure you understand what matters to your business and your leaders.

Topics: Corporate Citizenship, Executive Education

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Welcome to the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship blog, we are your resource for corporate citizenship insights, research, trending topics and executive education. Our blog is a place to exchange ideas and learn about corporate citizenship.

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