Eight newly appointed chief sustainability officers to watch

By Kate Birch
As L’Oreal, Gap, Goodyear, AB InBev and others appoint new chief sustainability officers, we highlight eight great CSOs to watch now

While COP26 dominates the conversations and consciousness of corporates worldwide, companies continue to address their approach to environmental responsibility, with more and more firms appointing dedicated Chief Sustainability Officers (CSO) to take charge.

In fact, US demand for CSOs has grown 228% in the last decade, according to a 2021 report from the Weinreb Group, which revealed a particularly dramatic increase in the hiring of CSOs in 2020.

In 2021, hiring of CSOs continues apace and here we highlight seven of the latest CSO hires across North America.

Marissa Pagnani McGowan

CSO, L’Oreal USA
New York, US

Sustainable business guru Marissa Pagnani McGowan is set to become the cosmetic giant’s first-ever USA Chief Sustainability Officer, effective November 2021, and will also be part of the leadership team and US management committee. Joining from global fashion giant PVH Corp., where she served as CSO, McGowan was selected for the role due to her “passion for the power of partnerships and collective action”, according to CEO Stephane Rinderknech, McGowan will drive L’Oreal for the Future, the firm’s 10-year sustainability transformation strategy to transform the company towards an increasingly sustainable business model, and ensure it is a “leader and catalyst of change in the beauty sector and beyond”, adds Rinderknech.

McGowen says… “I look forward to stewarding the sustaina­bility work as part of L’Oréal USA’s next growth chapter, and to driving meaning progress on the L’Oréal for the Future's transfor­mation journey.”

PJ Newcomb

Head of environmental sustainability, Gap Inc.
Georgia, US

Sustainability leader PJ Newcomb was appointed in October 2021 by apparel retail giant Gap Inc. to head up environmental sustainability across its brands Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta. Joining from The Coca-Cola Company, where he spent nine years, most recently leading the planning, scaling, measurement and management of the company’s World Without Waste programme, Newcomb describes himself as “passionate and solutions-driven, with a focus on advancing sustainability across various industry sectors”. A mechanical engineer, Newcomb has also held various sustainability-focused management and engineering roles including with the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.

Newcomb says… “I have dedicated my career to reducing organisational environmental footprints on the journey toward a more sustainable future”.

Ellis Jones

CSO, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
Ohio, US

Goodyear veteran Ellis Jones was promoted to Chief Sustainability Officer and VP in September 2021, as sustainability becomes “an increasingly important role in Goodyear’s future, from the perspective of our associates, our investors and our customers”, says senior VP Chris Helsel. With three decades of experience at the tire manufacturer where he’s held various positions including VP of Global EHS&S, as well as in the firm’s finance, marketing and supply network sectors, Ellis is the “right leader” to drive sustainability in Goodyear’s products, organisation and across its manufacturing footprint, says Helsel.

Ellis says… “As a change agent, I leverage the principles of operational excellence and safety leadership to drive shifts in culture.

Ezgi Barcenas

New York, US

A leader in sustainability at AB InBev for many years, in August 2021 Ezgi Barcenas was named Chief Sustainability Officer, making her AB InBev’s first-ever dedicated CSO, and reflecting the beverage giant’s commitment to further accelerating its ESG agenda. Joining the company via its Global MBA Programme in 2013, Barcenas had most recently served as Global VP of Sustainability. With a master’s degree in Environmental Health from Harvard and an MBA from Booth, Chicago, Barcenas is a recognised leader on smart agriculture, water stewardship, circular packaging, climate action and sustainable innovation.

Barcenas says… “Progress requires bold ideas and deviation from the norms. You have to think outside the box and beyond the boundaries while aiming for validity today and soundness tomorrow.”

Deborah Orida

CSO, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB)
Toronto, Canada

Following 12 years at CPPIB, in October 2021 Deborah Orida was tapped as the firm’s first-ever chief sustainability officer for CPP Investments, as the company looks “to capitalise on the investment opportunities brought about by climate change and insulate the firm from associated risks”, says CEO John Graham. Orida will maintain her role as senior managing director and global head of real assets. During her 12-year tenure at CPP, Orida has held numerous leadership roles and prior to this was at Goldman Sachs, where she served as Global Head of Real Assets. She has an MBA from Wharton.

Orida says… “As a global institutional investor with a time horizon that spans generations, we must place equal focus on both the risks and investment opportunities associated with sustainability – and particularly climate.”

Jim Mallory

CSO, MAG Silver
Vancouver, Canada

In October 2021, mining veteran Jim Mallory was appointed by MAG Silver Corp. to be its CSO, as the Canadian mining giant prioritises its corporate and social responsibility objectives. With more than 44 years of experience in mining, both in operations and management, and the last 23 years in sustainability and executive roles for Canadian resource corporations, Mallory brings extensive executive and sustainability experience to the MAG Silver table. He has also supported Canadian mining companies with operations in Chile, Peru, Argentina and Bolivia.

Mallory says… “I am very excited to be part of MAG and continue my lifelong career serving the mining industry, helping shape MAG’s commitment to integrating sustainability objectives; ESG processes; and disclosure strategies as key components.”

Alanna Boyd

CSO, Sun Life Financial Inc.
Toronto, Canada

An experienced leader in sustainability with expertise in Canada’s leading global sectors, Alanna Boyd was promoted to Chief Sustainability Officer and Senior VP of Sun Life Financial in September 2021. This followed five years as the firm’s VP of Sustainability where she led the development of the company’s current strategy and furthered its ESG disclosures. Prior to Sun Life, Boyd spent seven years at Barrick Gold, as VP of Government Affairs, and has in the past served on the board of the Mining Association of Canada and been a policy advisor for Finance Canada. In this newly created role, Boyd will build on the firm’s economic and ESG commitments to design and lead greater sustainability performance for the company.

Boyd says… “The world is facing a series of unprecedented challenges – from climate change to the COVID-19 pandemic to growing inequality. Sun Life has a responsibility and opportunity to broaden its sustainability agenda to create a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive economy.


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