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Clay Giese

Clay Giese, Jenkins MBA, 2015

Degrees Earned: Vanderbilt University: BA, Latin American Studies & Spanish, 2009, University of Florida: MA, Latin American Studies, 2011, and North Carolina State University: Jenkins MBA – Supply Chain Management, Poole College of Management, 2015
Organization: Caterpillar
Title: Logistics Analyst

NC State Net Impact chapter leaders

NC State Net Impact chapter leaders (Left to right: Mike Maher, Amelia Fujikawa, Kayla Erney, Ryan Kilgore, Clay Giese, Marlen Traber and Padmaja Soundararajan) attend the 2014 Annual Net Impact conference in Minneapolis.

Tell us about your current job duties, and how you’re able to bring sustainability to your role.

I am currently serving as the Broker Manager for Caterpillar’s Trade Compliance Team. I work with every shipment that comes into the United States to ensure that Caterpillar following Customs regulations and paying the appropriate duties. My current role does not work directly with sustainability, but I do have good visibility to incoming shipments and sometimes find shipments that are misrouted and get them on the right track before they move to the wrong destination, which if not corrected would ultimately cost Caterpillar both monetarily and in terms of adding needlessly to its carbon footprint. However, I do my best to live my values by advocating for Caterpillar’s commitment to sustainability. I have taken advantage of my opportunity to work at Caterpillar’s corporate headquarters and within the first month on the job, I had met and had lunch with the author of Caterpillar’s Annual Sustainability Report. So while my current position does not work directly with sustainability initiatives, I know who I can go to with ideas for improving the company’s performance, and I hope to leverage my connections to one day help make my company an industry leader in sustainability practices.

What experiences first turned you toward a business sustainability career?

I have always been driven to protect the environment, but my experiences as an undergraduate at Vanderbilt led me to learn more about sustainability. I became involved in improving Vanderbilt’s Residential Recycling program and the more I learned, the more I wanted to help make a difference in the world. However, the most critical experience for me was joining Net Impact at NC State during my MBA program because I learned how I can make a difference in any company or organization. Even though I don’t have a position directly related to sustainability, I am confident that the skills I learned through Net Impact have prepared me to be a change maker at Caterpillar.

Give us some examples of how your company uses sustainability to drive innovation, produce results, or improve the way you do business.

Since adopting sustainability as one of its core values, Caterpillar has lowered Greenhouse Gas emissions, increased usage of alternative and renewable energy sources, and reduced Recordable Injury Frequency. Caterpillar publishes its sustainability data annually in its Sustainability Report.

Caterpillar has pioneered the reclamation of mining lands in North Dakota, helped raise awareness of the importance of conservation and protected endangered forests in Brazil, and championed a culture of safety at its facilities and offices around the world, resulting in fewer workplace injuries.

What do you love the most about your job?  What are the challenges you’ve encountered & overcome in your career?

I love that my job is fast-paced and always keeps me thinking! I constantly encounter challenges and have to figure out the best way to respond to them quickly to keep the normal flow of shipments moving. I truly feel like a problem solver and I am confident in my ability to tackle tough challenges.

What’s your advice for students who are interested in sustainability?  How can students combine their sustainability interests with their day-to-day duties?

I would say to stay committed to your values and to embody them in your actions. You might not be able to make changes immediately, but be patient and you will be successful.