William & Mary

WestRock

Chris Davidson, Doug Sharo, and Chris Campolongo

Note before watching: This is an extended podcast interviewing three employees at WestRock. This year, MeadWestvaco and RockTenn completed their merger, which the three reference throughout the interview. WestRock is a packaging company that serves customers around the world, and their sustainability efforts lead in their field. Chris Davidson is the Director of Corporate Sustainability, Doug Sharo is the Manager of Sustainability, and Chris Campolongo is the Director of Supply Chain Compliance and Sustainability.

{{youtube:large|Pd2UXBf-_ts, Interview with WestRock}}

Topics discussed in this interview (in order):

  • Titles and positions (0:02)

Chris Davidson is the Director of Corporate Sustainability, Doug Sharo is the Manager of Sustainability, and Chris Campolongo is the Director of Supply Chain Compliance and Sustainability. Sharo reports to Davidson, and Davidson works on strategy and policy. Sharo puts ideas forwards to reach sustainability goals and works with customers. Campolongo focuses on human rights and conduct.

  • Did you know you wanted a green career? (2:26)

Davidson started as a forester and wanted to stay connected to nature, but different opportunities led him to WestRock. He added that there was no such thing as a green career when he graduated from college. Davidson and Campolongo noted that they are older than Sharo. Sharo identifies as a millennial and “specifically targeted a career in sustainability.” Campolongo, similar to Davidson, didn’t see a sustainability field out of college. He started in business and compliance, and got a sustainability position later.

  • Why have you stayed in your current positions at WestRock? (4:54)

Davidson loves that his job is green, and he believes he is leaving a better planet for his daughter. He finds working in the corporate world rewarding. Sharo likes that he is constantly learning new things and being challenged. The pace of the job is fast, but that helps him stay engaged. Campolongo has a long history in compliance, and he likes that his company strives to be as humane as possible.

  • Challenges with the job (7:38)

Davidson explained that the volume of work is the hardest part. Sharo and Davidson agreed that breaking down customer questions and concerns is a large challenge. They get questions about compliance, policies on deforestation and human rights, recycling, and many other questions about sustainability. Sharo added that they get questions about water and energy goals, as well as partnerships with customers. Their customers drive their strategy and goals. Sharo added that engaging employees and getting both companies (MWV and RockTenn) to work together to meet sustainability goals is an ongoing challenge. Campolongo agreed, adding that the merger has taken them out of their comfort zone. Merging the companies values and sustainability goals internally has been a challenge for Campolongo. He added that RockTenn did not have the same sustainability department as MWV, sparking some questions from RockTenn employees.

  • Accomplishments in sustainability (12:07)

Davidson referred me to the Corporate Responsibility Report. Read their sustainability reports. Davidson said they use a lot of renewable energy and create energy from internal processes. They’re improving with engaging employees internally, but there is room for improvement. Sharo explained that the company has set a lot of good goals, but they need an actual strategy. WestRock is working on renewing their sustainability goals and reworking the ones they didn’t accomplish last year. They are revising their dates and goals, and then they will make announcements about their strategy for the new year. Sharo explains that they need a mission statement, and Davidson added that thinking about why these goals are in place, and why people should care, is vital to writing a strategy.

  • What do you wish you had known when you graduated? (16:43)

Davidson appreciates his perseverance, his flexibility to try new things, and his intellectual curiosity for learning from everybody. Sharo says “it’s ok to fail, as long as you learn from it.” He encouraged me to always keep learning. Campolongo wishes he had worked a little before getting his masters degree. The practical experience would have helped him. He loves the idea of a gap year, and encourages travel and career exploration. He says to get a job you enjoy so you can find something engaging to do on most days.

  • Skills (18:58)

Davidson knows most students come out of college with Microsoft skills, but communication and teamwork are also key. Sharo actually doesn’t actually value skills, he just wants attitude and a willingness to learn. Campolongo values emotional intelligence, like listening and self-awareness. He explains that people shouldn’t take things personally.

If you are interested in learning more about WestRock or any of these three men, you can contact Gina at [[e|gmsawaya]].