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Emilio Tenuta, Ecolab’s VP of Corporate Sustainability, Inspires Kellogg MBAs to be Social Changemakers

October 31, 2013

Today’s young business professionals increasingly care about their ability to make a difference in the world.  They want to have an impact on society, improve lives, save vital resources and contribute to a more sustainable world.  In fact, a recent survey conducted by Bentley University found that 84 percent of millennials care more about making a positive difference than workplace recognition.

Successfully integrating social missions – inspiring social “intrapreneuership” – in the private sector is something Ecolab knows a lot about.  In fact, it’s core to the company mission.  Emilio Tenuta, Ecolab’s vice president of corporate sustainability, joined more than 140 Kellogg School of Management MBA candidates for a discussion on this topic at the 2013 Innovating for Social Change conference in Evanston, Ill.  His message: Passion for social change is a given.  The key to success is finding a way to advance a social mission in alignment with business goals. 

“At Ecolab, our social mission is carried out through a common purpose to provide and protect what is vital: clean water, safe food, abundant energy and healthy environments,” said Tenuta. “Our impact is strategically leveraged through the solutions we provide to our customers and the social implications of those solutions on communities.” 

We are always looking for innovative ways to help our customers advance their business and sustainability objectives. This level of commitment requires social mission innovation across the organization.  At Ecolab, embracing social mission leads to impressive results for our company and our customers.  For example, Nalco, an Ecolab company, partnered with Dow in Freeport, Texas at one of the world’s largest refineries to optimize critical cooling systems with Nalco’s 3D TRASAR technology.  The result was a savings of one billion gallons of freshwater annually, enough water to sustain the water needs for the city of Freeport for three years.

We also advance social innovation through collaboration with nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations.  We’re currently in partnership with the Alliance for Water Stewardship to advance new solutions and standards that encourage water use that is socially equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial, from site-level water management to engagement of stakeholders throughout the entire water catchment.  

“Each new effective solution makes a difference,” said Tenuta.  “In a world of increasing transparency, the private sector is subject to greater risk, increased disclosure and expectations for higher performance.  Our ability to grow is dependent on our ability to drive social change to advance business objectives.”


Tenuta participated in lively panel discussion as part of the 2013 Innovating for Social Change conference


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