Each year during March and April, Oracle employees Focus on the Environment and how we can work together to protect the planet. Kathy Wu is a communications manager at EMEA North Technology Consulting and leader of Oracle Nordic’s first Green Team, so we caught up with her to learn how this journey started, hear about the team’s progress, and get her advice for living a more sustainable life.
Volunteering vs making money
A campus hire, Kathy joined Oracle in Sweden when she was fresh out of college and full of energy for the exciting journey that lay ahead of her. In her interview for her first role as a social media co-ordinator for consulting, she spoke passionately about her love of volunteering, sustainability, and making the world a better place.
“My manager actually asked me in my interview how I feel about working for a profit-driven company,” she laughs. “I took it as a very positive sign that he wanted me to consider how I might merge my professional job with my volunteer beliefs. I remember I was quite honest because I said I definitely like volunteering, but I also need to earn money to be able to continue volunteering.”
The start of something new
Kathy’s passion for sustainability struck a chord with her manager and they continued to discuss the topic as her career progressed. So when a consulting customer brought sustainability up, Kathy’s manager knew exactly who to get involved.
“This was my first time ever being involved with a customer project,” Kathy emphasizes. “I manage internal and external communications for our Consulting team, but never something actually so close to a customer,” she explains. “It was all down to my manager. Since we had these conversations around sustainability before, he believed in my ability to drive this initiative for our customer.”
Cutting down on carbon emissions
The customer in question was Skanska, an international construction company headquartered in Sweden which was keen to understand how Oracle could embed sustainability into the consulting process. The answer was carbon offsetting.
“We knew we’d have a lot of off-site consultants flying into Sweden to work on this project, especially from India, London, and Paris,” Kathy recalls. “So that’s how it started. For the first time in Sweden, Oracle Consulting actively put a focus on sustainability within a customer consulting project.”
Kathy reviewed and planned what flights were needed to complete the project and calculated the associated carbon emissions due to air travel. In turn, Oracle donated a corresponding amount to Gold Standard, an organisation which was set up by the World Wide Fund for Nature to accelerate progress toward the sustainability goals set out in the Paris Agreement in 2015.
The Green Team is born
It was while Kathy was researching carbon offsetting that she first came across the idea of a Green Team. “I was diving into that area and researching the different resources we have at Oracle when I discovered the term. Oracle has more than 40 Green Teams around the world led by employees who want to make a positive impact in their local office by promoting sustainability at work, home, and in the community,” she describes. “So I thought to myself, why don’t we have our own Green Team? We have Oracle Women’s Leadership here in Sweden representing gender equality, so I thought it made sense to have a dedicated team for sustainability.”
A Green Team is a grassroots initiative which aims to drives awareness of how Oracle can help customers reach global sustainability goals, while also bringing it back to the individual employee and how they can personally make more sustainable choices. “Our mission is to enlighten, educate, and encourage our employees to actively take part in our sustainability goals,” Kathy emphasizes. “I knew people in the office were already interested in this, so I personally asked them to become part of the Green Team and that’s how we kicked off.”
Hitting the ground running
Kathy was blown away by the level of support the Green Team very quickly received. “From Oracle's global sustainability team, to local colleagues, and our country leadership team, it’s so much more than I could have expected. In the past year, we’ve really grown in members and executed so many great ideas and initiatives.”
When the pandemic hit, Kathy took the Green Team’s work online. Informative webinars and regular newsletters sharing advice for sustainable living have helped keep the movement stay alive even while employees work from home. The “Grow Me” challenge inspired by colleagues in the UK has also offered a fun way for Oracle employees to share photo updates of their plants progress.
“You need to push people and remind them to be active in different ways,” Kathy suggests. “We have weekly meetings to keep people engaged. Our most recent focus area is how to combat climate change by reducing food waste and we try to link everything back to our sustainability goals.”
Originally just representing Sweden, Kathy’s Green Team has now broadened its footprint to encompass all of the Oracle Nordic offices. After the success of the Skanska project, Oracle Consulting has received continued interest from customers who see sustainability as a deciding factor in choosing their next cloud provider.
“Every customer project can and should have a sustainability goal,” Kathy states. "Oracle is a leader in providing the technology that allows businesses to capture and use data to make more sustainable choices. This is making a huge impact. And of course, Oracle itself has more than 200,000 employees all around the world. If we can get all of them to think and act sustainably, it will make a huge difference. We also have offices all over the world too and we’re being more selective when it comes to choosing sustainable suppliers.”
Attracting eco-conscious Gen Z
Oracle’s data centers in Europe all currently run on sustainable energy. In the next five years, Oracle has committed to ensuring all Oracle offices will run on 100% renewable energy too. Kathy sees this not only as a huge stride towards reaching our global goals, but also as an important step in securing the talent which will steer Oracle into the future.
“This commitment is a huge step,” she enthuses. “If we want to continue to grow as a company we need to see how the new generation is thinking, and Gen Z is more and more aware of the importance of sustainability. It will be one of the key forces to attract new talent to join us. I think companies that fail to focus on sustainability will lose future talent and possibly even current employees. It’s a hot topic for a reason,” she observes.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Kathy feels her skills as a communications manager compliment her leading role in the Green Team, helping her to convey key messages in an engaging way. However, she says the most important contributing factor to the Green Team’s success has been the unwavering support of her manager.
“I get so much support from my manager to drive this, he’s very proud of the progress I’m making,” she shares. “This support has made such a difference. If my manager had been unhappy that I was hired for one role and was also performing a second, it just wouldn’t work.”
According to Kathy, this autonomy is one of the hallmarks of life at Oracle. “I’ve talked with a lot of people and I think this is often what makes them stay at Oracle. We have a lot of flexibility,” she says. “Of course, I still have my main focus, but I can make time for the Green Team and put my energy into it. My manager sees how important it is.”
How to make more sustainable choices
While there’s no denying Kathy is passionate about sustainable living, she’s careful not to categorise herself as the perfect role model. “I love animals and being outdoors, and I watch lots of nature documentaries that make me cry,” she shares. “But in terms of my own decisions, I’m trying to do better every day.”
We asked Kathy for some advice on how to do this:
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