Ron Jarvis, BS Business Management, 1983
Degrees earned: North Carolina State University: BS, Business Management, Poole College of Management, 1983 and Emory University: Executive Leadership Program, 2007
Organization: The Home Depot
Title: Vice President, Merchandising & Sustainability
Tell us about your current job duties, and how you’re working to integrate sustainability into your role.
I currently lead our global Sustainability/Environmental teams, our Utility Rebate team, Foreign Factory Social Audit team and our Product Safety teams. Although the Sustainability group has the label all functional areas are confronted with sustainability issues. Almost every business decision that is made has a sustainability impact. We insure that we recognize and measure those impacts so we can adjust our actions if needed to minimize our impacts.
What experiences first made you interested in using your career to drive business sustainability?
On a collegiate basis I first became interested in a sustainable world during a Sociology class at NCSU I was intrigued by how those that can make a difference many times don’t due to lack of ownership and accountability to society. In business my first sustainable project was to help develop a global wood purchasing policy and supply chain for Home Depot in 1999.
Give us some examples of how your company uses sustainability to drive innovation, produce results, or improve the way you do business.
At The Home Depot we use sustainability metrics to develop better products (production and use), create more efficient stores and reduce the impact of our supply chain. We now carry over 9000 sustainable products in our stores, we reduced our absolute energy use by 315 million kilowatt hours last year alone (with more square feet) and have reduced our transportation greenhouse gas emissions by over 30% in 5 years.
What do you love the most about your job? What are the challenges you’ve encountered & overcome in your career?
My favorite part of my job is knowing that we can and do make a difference. We have a long list of sustainable moves where we have made as a company or drove the industry to implement to maintain our business. A major challenge in this job is to not get caught up in the emotions that can run high in sustainability matters and to always weigh the science and unintended consequences before taking a position.
What’s your advice for students who are interested in sustainability? How can students combine their sustainability interests with their day-to-day duties?
The individuals that tend to make the greatest impacts in sustainability are those that understand that every business decision has a sustainability impact. Companies today place a high value on the new associate who sees the sustainability 360 regardless of their position. A great way to be noticed is to improve the sustainability impact of your department in conjunction with meeting all other goals.