A profile on Esther Speck and her goal of implementing sustainability aspects throughout her career.
Most companies want to show their customers that they are mindful of their environmental impact and willing to take steps to reduce it. This is often more than an ethical obligation for brands, as their efforts earn them positive recognition and the patronage of more environmentally conscious customers.
However, this delicate endeavor must be managed tactfully, ensuring a healthy balance between sustainable initiatives and accompanying marketing campaigns.
This is where professionals like Esther Speck come in, leading the way for brands to not only take accountability for themselves but measure up to ever-increasing sustainability expectations. Speck has worked with a number of brands in various roles, always seeking to improve their sustainability strategy and implement more productive techniques to help bridge the gaps in their environmental shortcomings.
One of the most notable aspects of Speck’s career is her adaptability between industries. She has worked with companies within the tourism, financing, and real estate industries, respectively.
This is a strong indicator of what makes Speck a success. Her method of implementing sustainable practices goes beyond a given industry, instead of focusing on a holistic approach of examining each individual link in the chain from production to supply.
By reviewing each company on its own terms, instead of a blanket strategy that is tailored to a given industry, she has found the key to sustainable initiatives. That is, examining the unique circumstances of a given company and developing a plan that takes all of their nuances into account.
Speck’s techniques have earned her recognition among her colleagues as one of the most result-oriented professionals in sustainability.
Speck’s techniques have earned her recognition among her colleagues as one of the most result-oriented professionals in sustainability. Her management has allowed companies under her attention to achieving measurable results.
At Mountain Equipment Co-op, Speck brought about changes that helped the company see an increase in environmentally friendly materials, a reduction in carbon emissions, and over 100,000 initiatives for wildlife protection.
Mountain Equipment Co-op focused on outdoor equipment such as athletic wear, hiking gear, climbing tools, and more. This means that a significant portion of their customer base had a vested interest in environmental conservation, giving Speck the opportunity to implement more forward and active initiatives.
Moving from Mountain Equipment Co-op to Lululemon, Speck saw a less sustainability-inclined demographic. While on the surface, both companies catered to similar demographics, Lululemon focused on gym and self-care-oriented athletics.
This gave Speck the opportunity to change her approach and learn more about this new niche. She soon changed her more aggressive initiatives into a more palatable form for this market.
Speck has stated that Lululemon focuses on offering their customers a path to wellbeing, which entails supporting humanitarian and sustainable causes. Beginning in 2015 as Vice President of Global Sustainability and moving up to Vice President of Global Sustainability and Social Impact in 2019, Speck has implemented various sustainability initiatives during her time at the company.
These initiatives have mostly taken the form of providing support and guidance to vulnerable groups, as well as implementing measures to track and improve brand sustainability.
Speck has also helped launch Lululemon’s Center for Social Impact, which supports its programs for physical and mental wellness. Speck heads many individual initiatives as well, such as their commitments and programs aimed at stopping human trafficking and forced labor in their supply chain. This marks a slight shift in Specks' focus, from sustainability to humanitarian initiatives, although it fits nicely into her portfolio.
Aside from her positions at the various companies discussed, Speck has also worked in a consulting capacity with a diverse range of organizations. This allowed Speck to critically examine the operations of a broad selection of companies that struggled to meet their sustainability goals, helping them change their approach and see lasting results.
This included working on their supply chains and seeing where sustainable changes may be feasibly and efficiently implemented. It was particularly important to her to see worthwhile changes that brought about real, measurable results.
Working with diverse companies in various industries has allowed Speck to grow a skill set based on critical examination, as well as a keen sense of the sustainability initiatives possible within a given supply chain. Esther Speck continues to be an important member of the sustainability movement within big name brands, due in large part to her ability to examine each new company with fresh eyes and a commitment to identify and lead important initiatives for change.
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