Title: Head of Sustainability, Secure Power and Data Centers
Company: Schneider Electric
Education: Bachelor's degree in international relations from San Francisco State University
Professional Credentials/Accreditations: Cambridge Jude Business School: Circular Economies and Sustainability Strategies
Achievements/Awards: iMason’s International Climate Accord (ICA) Governing Body member
What led you to a career in technology?
Funny enough, it actually wasn’t my plan! I initially intended to pursue a career in international law, specializing in either human rights or environmental law and then work within the NGO space. So, when I took my first job in technology, it was simply for the paycheck. Once I was in the industry, though, it was immediately clear that technology was where I could best make my impact.
What motivates you to go above and beyond in your current position?
Hands down, it’s my team. Their success and ability to make an impact pales in comparison to anything I can do, by a million.
What role does sustainability play in your life both personally and professionally?
Sustainability is the central focus of my professional life — my team not only drives Schneider Electric’s Secure Power decarbonization strategy but also plays an integral part in helping our customers accelerate the reduction of their impact on the environment. In my personal life, sustainability always has and always will heavily influence my purchasing decisions and family lifestyle. Excitingly, I also now have a role in my community after recently being named to Franklin Tennessee’s Sustainability Committee. I can’t wait to bring my professional knowledge and personal passions to make an impact in my local community.
What is the most fascinating lesson you have learned while working with technology?
Although digital infrastructure is very energy intensive, its proliferation is key to the net-zero future. Approximately 80% of global carbon emissions come from the production and consumption of energy. Digital enables efficiency — it makes energy visible so we can deliver smarter, optimized consumption. If we combine this with clean electricity, energy evolves from being the biggest driver of carbon emissions to the biggest opportunity for carbon reduction.
What is unique about you personally?
I establish points of connection with others easily and regardless of personality type. Having lived in Italy for 15 years, I know what it’s like to come from a different background when entering a new space, and I can quickly empathize and find commonality with others bringing my lived experience into each new environment.
“The future will and must be more digital, which is the key to developing and executing ambitious decarbonization strategies and enabling the electrification of the industry. ”
What is unique about you professionally?
I take a growth mindset into everything I do, allowing me to transform abstract ideas into actionable, executable plans. Sustainability can be complex. Even in a company, like Schneider Electric, that firmly positions sustainability at the core of its DNA (and has done so for over 15 years), it takes patience and perseverance to animate all functions and drive acceleration — these two traits are core to my professional makeup.
What is your most admirable quality?
My biggest satisfaction comes from seeing my team succeed. I continually challenge myself on what I can do to free up their energy, remove roadblocks, and ensure they are empowered while still feeling adequately challenged.
Why is diversity, equality, and inclusion necessary for this industry?
The diversity of skills, backgrounds, and experiences enable any industry to accelerate innovation and avoid blind spots when we ensure we are paying attention to all the lived experiences. By being intentional about fostering such an atmosphere, you have higher-quality team members who understand more about the world in which we are operating and, thus, can address the needs across our organization that impact the bottom line — it’s good for business.
That said, all industries must also prioritize DE&I as the morally right thing to do. Humanity has come a long way, but large swaths of the human population still suffer from the effects of systemic racism and other forms of discrimination. There are massive income disparities due to generational wealth from centuries upon centuries of the same. All industries have an opportunity to move the needle and accelerate the leveling of the playing field by developing and executing bold DE&I strategies.
What aspect of the industry has the most potential for growth, and how can we accelerate that?
Sustainability, energy resilience, and digitization reliability are the new tenets of the data center industry. It's all about delivering sustainable, efficient, adaptive, and resilient technology solutions to help achieve net-zero results, a faster speed-to market, and lower latency.
Where does the industry need the most improvement, and what can we learn from the current shortcomings?
The industry needs to promote full transparency of the environmental impact of materials, equipment, and power from all suppliers. Industry-wide standardization on how environmental impact is measured and reported is also a must-have. The lack of transparency and standardization today makes it very challenging for data center operators and CIOs to truly prioritize sustainability during the design phase of digital infrastructure, and nearly impossible to consider when making procurement decisions.
When you imagine the future technology, what does it look like?[JB1]
The future will and must be more digital, which is the key to developing and executing ambitious decarbonization strategies and enabling the electrification of the industry.
The technology behind future digital infrastructure must be based on relevant and accurate data, which is key for an efficient digital transformation. Through the right software and automation tools, organizations can make the necessary decisions to attain operational benefits and continue on the journey to sustainability.
What advice do you have for women and other minorities who are currently working in the industry but don’t necessarily feel like they belong?
It’s important to acknowledge and remember that your white male peers are much less likely to experience “imposter syndrome” than you are. This is due to social conditioning and centuries of discrimination. Awareness of this as fact can help mitigate those feelings when they arise and overcome them more quickly. Women and minorities should always be reminded that they are smart and earned their place. Candidly, another approach is to physically raise your middle finger whenever the thought pops into your mind — giving yourself a physical (and freeing) way to shut down those unwarranted thoughts.
What advice do you have for young girls who may be interested in a future career in technology?
Identify what gets you excited and then boldly and unapologetically dive in. If you then realize that it’s not really that exciting— pivot and try again. It’s OK to continue to try new things until you find what’s exciting and engaging for you.
It’s also good to seek feedback from peers and collaborators. However, it’s important to quickly identify and filter out “old school” perspectives (often unintended) on how women should behave, as these tend to be limiting.