Leadership in the Green Economy
November 1, 2011 by Teresa Siles

LEAD President and CEO Vicky Carlson has called the IMPACT program an “MBA in San Diego,” – on Oct. 20 the cohort got its first official course and it was on the green economy.

While we didn’t become experts in one day, we certainly learned a lot about what the “green economy” really means and the role we play in the future of a green San Diego. While many people tie the green economy to global warning, Reo Carr, editor in chief at the San Diego Business Journal, who served as the day’s moderator, challenged this notion.

“Whether global warming exists is irrelevant to our considerations … to link the green economy to global warming is a huge mistake,” said Carr. He argued that being “green” is about much more than global warming. It’s about the impacts on our environment that we see every day. Carr said that people are moved by what they see on a local level.

Things like plastic bottles washed on the shores of our beaches and the San Diego riverbed fouled with pollution are examples of negative impacts on our environment that can’t be ignored. Unlike global warning, you can see these physical manifestations, and they impact what our future looks like.

“The green economy will become as fundamental as any industry we know today,” said Carr.

So what does that mean for me and my IMPACT cohorts? Does that mean we should abandon our fields and jump on the “green” bandwagon? Not so, but there are implications for all of us. In fact, Jim Waring, co-founder of CleanTECH San Diego says every business can be a “green” business.

“I don’t care what you do. It’s about being the best you can be with your resources,” said Waring. “It’s about doing more with less, and it’s in the best interest of the world.”

Some argue that at its most basic level, being “green” is about just that – doing more with less. But in San Diego, we are doing more than the status quo. We are putting our stake in the ground as being a recognized leader in green technology. But are we ready?

“We need to develop our competitiveness,” said Chuck Flack, research director for the San Diego Workforce Partnership. “There is excitement around ‘green,’ but do we have the workforce needed?” The answer isn’t simple. While there are certainly individuals, organizations, educational institutions and businesses dedicated to improving the green skill set of our workforce, there is still work to be done. It’s an evolving process that has no end.

The takeaway for leaders: we all play a role, not only in doing our respective parts to use resources more wisely as individuals and within our respective organizations, but also to ensure the workforce is equipped with the green skill set needed now and in the future.

Teresa Siles (@tsiles) is vice president and director of social media at Nuffer, Smith, Tucker, a full-service public relations firm in San Diego focused on creating conversations and building relationships to help clients succeed.

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