2016 Career Summit Series: Q&A with CABA’s Michael Green

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Michael Green is the Executive Director of CABA, the Climate Action Business Association, and a keynote speaker at Net Impact Boston’s 2016 Career Summit happening this Friday, February 26.  Michael, who began his career as a park ranger and also spent time as a climate change delegate to the United Nations, shared his thoughts on why he wanted to collaborate with businesses trying to have a more positive environmental impact.  To hear more, register for this year’s Career Summit – tickets are going fast, so reserve yours now!

How did you decide to pursue an impact role in your career?

I started off my career as a back-country ranger in Southern Utah. At the time, I thought being a forest ranger was the career for me. I loved to work with my hands, being outside, and the opportunity to constantly explore. Over the first six months of my time there, I spent most evenings reading in a tent in the high elevation deserts of the grand staircase national monument. There, I began to read about climate change and the threats it posed to the nature around me. One statistic that said the forests in upstate New York would resemble those of Georgia by mid-century. I knew that I had to do more, and that I couldn’t change anything sitting out in the back country by myself. I left the forest service to work for Greenpeace on their climate change campaigns. They trained me on how to direct action, organize volunteers, and develop creative ways to communicate our messaging. Over the next five years of organizing, I had the opportunity to travel the world, working on various policy and research campaigns until I helped to develop CABA. During that time, I came to realize the important role the business community must play in taking action on climate change.  It’s been a wild trip over the past 10 years but I started my career out of fear but also belief that I could make a difference.

What is the most interesting/challenging aspect of your work?
The most interesting part of my work is all the different local businesses that I get to work with. From renewable energy companies, lumber yards, financial firms to small manufacturers, I have the opportunity to learn so much from them. Every hour I am talking with a different business with different challenges and ideas. It keeps my brain in a constantly changing orbit.
Innovation plays a key role in achieving social and environmental impact. How has innovation helped your organization and where do you see the next few years taking us?
The idea of businesses wanting to take action on climate change is an innovation in itself. When I began working in this field, there was still a strong feeling that the private sector would be the last to come around – that businesses would only take action if they were forced to. Now, we have plenty of businesses that come to us and ask us how they can be leaders. The solutions we are able to offer are not always innovative in their own right, but have a fresh look to them when brought together through our programs. There are many groups focused on internal sustainability efforts for businesses and helping them be stronger advocates on public policy. We work more like a community that offers all of the above. Recently, one of my members referred to it as a menu – they can pick the tools they want to use, the campaign they want to be active in or the ways they imagine benefiting from our community. This has allowed us to bring in a wide net of members and partner organizations.
There will be plenty of exciting speakers and organizations represented at the Career Summit this Friday, so be sure to reserve your tickets now!
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