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Alumni profile: Jon Allen

Jon Allen

Degree earned: North Carolina State University, Poole College of Management, BA Business Administration with a concentration in Supply Chaing Management
Organization:  Water for Good
Title: Chief Operations Officer

Tell us about your current job duties, and how you’re working to integrate sustainability into your role.

I am the COO at Water for Good. I help to create and drive the strategy of the organization, and our goal to see the Central African Republic have 100% access to clean water sources. Sustainability for us is seeing to it that the infrastructure that goes in to support these rural communities does not have a negative environmental impact on the landscape, and also to ensure that it is functional in an ongoing way to provide safe reliable water to all of the local families.

What experiences first made you interested in using your career to drive business sustainability?  

Given the context of the work we are doing, we have seen a lot of solutions and technologies get put into place that is not sustainable from a supply and support context. Projects get done to help a rural group in need with no foresight into the needed labor and part supply networks. This was really frustrating to see so much philanthropy and aid being wasted on projects that would fail in 1-2 years because of broken systems. We decided to go after strengthening of the systems around these projects in the country that we work in.

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

Our drive for the ongoing functionality of the water projects we work with.  He led us to drive some innovative processes in one of the most remote in complex places on earth. We have local central African pump technicians completing work orders on iPads allowing for clean and reliable data to drive systematic improvements and oversight.

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

I love a number of things about my job.  I love that my daily focus gets to be around driving up impacting for people as opposed to driving up profits for shareholders, and I love being able to be exposed to a part of the world that I would never have imagined.

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

In terms of environmental sustainability just being aware of how you live, and trying to educate others is important.  For managers it is important to think about the products that you are using, and how they are being sourced, manufactured, or consumed.