We recently spoke with Dave Stangis (@DaveStangis), vice president corporate responsibility and chief sustainability officer at Campbell Soup Company, about his unexpected entrée into a successful sustainability career and how he stays passionate about his work.
Keep reading to learn how his interest in science and technology is a continuous source of inspiration and what he does when he’s not working on a Campbell project (which is rare).
What project are you most excited about right now?
DS: Recently, I was asked to take a look across pillars inside Campbell that are focused on real food and transparency. It's opened my eyes to a whole new set of work streams within the company. It’s been really fun to be able to work with a new set of stakeholders inside the company.
Doing this, I'm seeing what's going on at all levels within product, corporate communications, consumer communications, supply chain and the IT space.
We're closing the gap between the people who are doing frontline work to bring the real food and transparency philosophy to life and the C-suite of the company.
What inspires and drives you to work on sustainability?
DS: I’m passionate about creating more value for the business. Every day, I want to make the company the best it can be; not just the most sustainable company, or the most transparent, just the best.
My start in sustainability was situational. My background is mostly in science and technology, which has definitely helped in this role. Before Campbell, I was a safety engineer at Intel. I then took on an external-facing role in Environment, Health, and Safety, which quickly turned into a reputation-management role. When I started at Campbell, I continued this reputation work.
Can you share something about yourself that would surprise us? Any hidden talents?
DS: My work and my passion are not separate from each other. I work during the day and at night, but it doesn’t feel like work to me. I’ve been working full-time since I was thirteen years old. I even had to bend the truth about my age to get my first official job. And before that, I worked odd jobs around the neighborhood.
I guess someday I’ll have to stop, but right now, I can’t sit still. If I’m not working, I’m exercising or getting outside.
If you had unlimited time and resources, what type of work would you want to collaborate with fellow SB Members on?
DS: I think the members of the SB community and Advisory Board are uniquely qualified to tap into business value. They’re all striving within their individual companies, oftentimes working with small teams. I would love to find a way to multiply and scale what we're doing individually and bring it to a multi-sector level.
Every week, I have so many one-on-one conversations with people who are trying to drive sustainability within their organizations. It would be great to bring this work and knowledge together, allowing us to accomplish our goals more quickly.
What do you work on in your free time?
DS: If I'm not working on a Campbell project, I'm reading or going on a run. I still enjoy being a science student and read a lot of non-fiction on technology. I recently enjoyed The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly, about what’s coming next in technology. I also read The Seventh Sense by Joshua Cooper Ramo, about the power of the network and why models like Facebook and Amazon will always win and the competition will always get eaten up. Other recent favorites include A Crack in Creation by Doudna and Sternberg and The Gene by Mukherjee; these last two were interesting and especially applicable to food and life sciences.
I also have a bit of a photography habit with my Nikon D-90. I bought it for a trip to Rome and Barcelona several years ago and it’s turned into a hobby since then.
Why is your participation in the SB Member Network important?
DS: The people in the Corporate Member Network and Advisory Board are the cream of the crop. One of the especially unique characteristics about the SB community is the mix of global thought-leadership from diverse industries and professions. It's a unique network that has a ton of brainpower.
Anything else you'd like to share with fellow SB Members?
DS: I’d want to remind fellow members that they’re the best at what they’re doing. They’re the thought-leaders on their subject, the ones who are going to lead companies to the Good Life. This can get lost on people because they’re in the trenches every day. But I’d like us all to take a moment to recognize what we’ve created and to see how far we’ve come. It’s worth celebrating!