“Two Minutes With” is Weber Shandwick Seattle’s employee spotlight series that provides professional and personal insight into our rock star team. Enjoy!
You are a key player in the company’s Cleantech Practice. What exactly is the goal of the practice and what types of clients fall under that umbrella?
I’ve been working in the “cleantech” space for nearly four years and its been interesting to see how the industry has really developed. Our practice focuses on representing companies working in various clean technology sectors, such as:
- Renewable energy technologies like wind and solar
- Biofuels like ethanol and butanol that are used for alternative transportation or as green chemical
- Green building and design
- Smart grid technologies to help manage energy use on the grid or within a home
- Green IT clients related to energy efficiency and proper waste management
- Alternative transportation technologies like electric vehicles or sub component like batteries and fuel cells
- We also work with sustainable non-profits and help counsel our larger corporate clients on sustainable initiatives
The space has changed tremendously from a media perspective. When I first started there we very few media outlets with reporters dedicated to clean/green technologies. We either worked with an energy reporter who covered oil/gas or a technology reporter who wasn’t sure what to think of our pitches. Now, almost every major publication has someone dedicated to keeping an eye on all things green.
Not only are you a Cleantech Practice manager, but you are also a founding member of the Seattle office Green Team. Have you always had a passion for eco-friendliness?
Yes – it started in 2nd grade when I won an award for picking up trash in the school yard. It continued in 5th Grade when I was the Secretary for our “Kid Saving Earth” club. My green resume gets a bit spotty after that, but it’s always been something that I’ve been highly passionate about.
I’m very excited about our new office greening efforts. I helped with the original ISO 1400 certification a few years ago and now its great that we have a whole team dedicated to improving the green efforts of our Seattle office. We’re placing a big emphasis on measurement, which includes setting initial benchmarks and then tracking our progress. Personally, I’m really challenged with remembering to turn off my monitor when I step away for meetings – but I’m trying to get better!
Is it true what they say, “It’s not easy being green?”
Yes – but not for everything. Living sustainably is a choice and there are so many things people can do to make a difference. Living off the grid or choosing to walk rather than drive doesn’t work for everyone in our society, but if we all start to make incremental changes to live more sustainably, then companies will respond. The growth of green products and services is outstanding – and the marketplace is responding because it’s not only green, but it’s a good business opportunity.
I’m the first to admit that I take long showers, which isn’t ideal. But I try to offset that by doing other green activities at my house like recycling, composting, using green cleaning products, buying organic foods, and raising chickens. (Side note – Urban Chicken Farming is THRIVING in Seattle!)
Do you have an “eco-hero” of your own?
I can’t say there is one person that sticks out in my mind, although I became a fan of environmentalist Rachel Carson after writing a grade school book report on her activism around DEET. Today there are so many eco celebrities out there that are doing really amazing things like Amory Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute. I’m also a BIG fan of regular people – those who bike to work or take the bus, people who use reusable diapers, etc. I’m also impressed by those who’ve built some really amazing “off-grid” houses.
When you aren’t recycling and helping clients boost awareness of green products and initiatives, how are you most likely to spend your free time?
Hanging out with my boys – Max and Cade. We try to spend a lot of time outside when it’s nice. Currently, I’m garden planning –with a specific focus on keeping our chickens out of the greens, sprucing up our chicken coop for the Seattle Tile Coop Tour, reading cheesy teen books such as The Hunger Games (on book 3 now), watching documentaries and with whatever time is left, throwing on exercise videos to pretend I work out.
Helen McClenahan is a group manager at Weber Shandwick Seattle and frequently posts here about all things green.