Making the Shift to Green Project Management

By Shar Olivier, MEM, LEED-AP   |   Global Business Development Manager/Director of Sustainability and CSR, IIL

One of the most beautiful places on Earth is the South of France.  The time I got to travel there for business, Cannes was teeming with life and a shining posh village on the Mediterranean.  The countryside is something out of a different era, a time when people lived closer to the land, and life was much simpler and full of beauty.  I have always wanted to return, and next month I will get the chance, well, at least virtually…

I will get the privilege of delivering a virtual address to the participants at a ground-breaking PMI chapter conference in Sophia-Antipolis, South France, held on June 30th 2016.  IIL France is sponsoring the event and we want to extend congratulations to chapter organizers like Olivier LeFebvre, for hosting the conference at a net-zero energy facility (it produces more energy than it consumes), with Sustainability at the core.

More and more PMPs are being called upon to consider the metrics of Sustainability in their projects.

How does my project affect the local community?  What are the environmental impacts of my project?  Will this project move the company and the sponsors into the future with a competitive edge/managed risk based on responsible best practice in PM?

Workshop topics will include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing a Sustainability Management Plan on your current project
  • French quality practitioners learning solutions around ISO26000 (CSR)
  • IIL Global Sustainability strategies and offerings
  • Local business strategies for Sustainability

PMI South France is focusing on making the connection between our project outcomes and alignment with our core values as stewards of the planet.  Project managers worldwide are focusing on the impact their projects have on the local community, as well as the global environment.  Responsible projects hold the stakeholders and managers accountable, while increasing efficiencies and creating innovative outcomes.

Corporate Social Responsibility is the sum total of our projects.  How we choose to focus our work lives and our company’s impacts on people and the planet, this is what creates our CSR platforms.  When we make a choice about inputs like materials, energy, transport and people, we are either making choices that foster positive growth or undermines the fabric of our ecosystem services, and the future of our society.  It’s really that simple.

Each of us has the capacity to lead in this space.  We don’t all need advanced degrees in Sustainability or urban planning, to make choices, at work and at home, that positively inform our future.  Get involved in events like this one and make the shift to Green PM.

To learn more about the event please follow this link:

For more information about IIL France, please visit:


sharShar Olivier is a recognized thought leader in Sustainability and the Director of IIL’s Corporate Social Responsibility Practice Area. With more than 18 years of experience in the field, Shar has presented to more than 100,000 professionals across dozens of business sectors. She presented most recently at the PMI Southern Caribbean Chapter in Trinidad on Organizational Survival, and graduated at the top of her class in Environmental Leadership and Sustainability at Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment.

The Earth Day CSR Connection


By Shar Olivier, MEM, LEED-AP
Global Business Development Manager/Director of Sustainability and CSR, IIL

Since April is Earth Month and today is Earth Day, we want to take a moment to celebrate the growing role of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability strategies in protecting the environment all year long.

When Earth Day was established back in 1970, it was the advent of the environmental movement. However, the concept of CSR did not yet exist. While corporations may have recognized the importance of protecting our ecosystems and the many challenges in business operations, the paradigm was that being a more responsible company meant forfeiting profits.  Seemingly, the two could not go hand in hand.

Today, sustainability and CSR are part of every successful business strategy. Huge multi-nationals such as Unilever, P&G, MARS, Coke, BMW, and BASF have taken the lead and are realizing the huge advantages of implementing CSR programs.  By managing resources through sustainable supply chain management, reducing waste streams, land conservation, and investment in communities, these companies are seeing decreased costs and increased profits. As environmentally and socially conscious factors, these companies are not only paying it forward for future generations, but also attracting today’s consumers who increasingly recognize sustainability as a critical component of products or services they use.

Given the current discussion around The United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and impacts facing our global communities today, like climate change, food security, energy demand, wildlife conservation, ocean equity and water scarcity, consumers are increasingly concerned with the environmental and social impact of the brands they buy.  Pioneering organizations like The Sustainability Consortium, Forum for the Future, and Global Reporting Initiative work tirelessly to create reporting criteria and ground breaking tools and systems to manage these programs and create metrics for impact innovation and sustainable change.

And so, on this Earth Day, we are proud to celebrate the companies, agencies, and organizations that embrace the importance of corporate social responsibility as a key factor in ensuring the sustainability of our planet, economy, and communities. Sustainability is just good, responsible business, and we are honored to be part of this critical shift to the circular economy model, where every company is socially responsible.

Key Points about Climate Change from Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar Speech

By Shar Olivier, MEM, LEED-AP
Global Business Development Manager/Director of Sustainability and CSR, IIL

Sunday night saw the victory of famed Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio at the 88th annual Academy Awards.  He said his first Oscar was not “taken for granted,” and Mr. DiCaprio had more to say about the realities of Climate Change.

He is one celebrity that has put his money where his mouth is, from the coral reefs of Belize to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr. DiCaprio is a champion of the Environment.  In his speech Sunday he made some important points.

  • He cares deeply about “man’s relationship with the natural world,” a key theme in his latest film The Revenant
  • He stressed that “Climate Change is real, is happening right now, and is our most urgent threat.”
  • He urged us to ‘work collectively to support Leaders, and not just of huge corporations”
  • And said we must reject the “politics of greed.”

These are salient and courageous public statements that are supported by [all of] us from the Sustainability community.  It is projected that by 2035 the global climate temperature will be 1.5C higher than 100 years ago.  This is not just an environmental problem, it directly effects all human systems, how we run our businesses, and the economic stability of the world markets.

Mr. DiCaprio has expressed with urgency, what IIL is working toward with our clients every day.  We strategize and create programs that help our clients mitigate Climate Change and greenhouse gas emissions, while raising standards around air and water quality, by educating the global work force about these realities, and how their work impacts our world.

We build solutions that account for Human Rights and Fair Labor practices across the globe.  We help our clients realize their relationship to the communities in which they operate and assist them in executing ground breaking programs that work today, in real time.  These programs realize these and other Corporate Social Responsibility goals, as well as Environmental Sustainability goals now.

As Mr. DiCaprio so eloquently stated, “we can no longer take our Natural World for granted,” and the clock is ticking.

7 Sustainability & CSR Trends for 2016


By Shar Olivier, MEM, LEED-AP
Global Business Development Manager/Director of Sustainability and CSR, IIL

Happy New Year from all of us at IIL. Here are some of our Sustainability/CSR predictions for this year.

  1. Water will be a front page issue.

    Water has been on the top 10 lists of concern for a number of years and this year is no different. Water security or lack thereof has improved with the number of people living with water insecurity dipping below 1B.  A growing number of companies recognize water scarcity risks as material and are including them as a financial concern in annual reports. Most soft drink companies state that water supply challenges could put $2.5 billion of its future sales at risk.

  2. Extreme weather events increase.

    Just over this holiday break, at our distribution center in Monett, MO there was another “100 year flood.” Trouble is there was one only 7 years ago!  These floods and other extreme weather events will continue to increase this year, and not just in coastal and island settings.  Tornadoes in Mississippi, earthquakes in Greenland, extreme storms like Typhoon Patricia of 2015 will continue to make news and bring Climate Change impacts to the forefront.

  1. Ethical Supply Chain will be at the forefront. 

    In 2015 there was an overwhelming focus on Supply Chain management and impacts. 2016 is sure to bring even more scrutiny and transparency around how our goods and services are made and delivered. Pollution, emissions, air and water quality, and labor rights are all issues every company must address.

  1. The world will unite like never before over Climate Change.

    2015 saw the COP21 summit in Paris and all the impact it portends globally for 2016 and the years to come. We have reached the tipping point for a global call to action and with it 2016 brings a renewed commitment from global leaders, corporate executives, and people around the world.  

  1. Sustainability & Talent Development are table stakes.

    Gone are the days of optional training around these sustainability issues. Consumers, investors, and stakeholders are requiring companies to have trained human capital.  Competency and innovation in Sustainability are now table stakes.

  2. Cross-generational Consumer Engagement.

    Millennials have now surpassed the baby boomers in sheer numbers and they are more Sustainability savvy than their GenX parents and baby boomer grandparents. 2016 will see a rise in Millennial engagement and companies from Coca-Cola to Monsanto are hiring managers to direct communication to this enormous consumer group.

  3. Impact investing will reach a tipping point.

    Interest in socially responsible investing is at an all-time high with proponents like Bill Gates and the Pope. This year will see increased divesting with leads from Mike Bloomberg and other big names in finance.  According to Goldman Sachs, Millennials are more socially minded and will push for change, and capital and technology will drive innovation in emerging markets and the developing world.

[trx_infobox style=”regular” closeable=”no” icon=”icon-desktop”] IIL is ready to train and engage your workforce, managers and C-suite. We also provide consulting and training for every level of your company’s Supply Chain. Learn more here or email to request a free consultation.[/trx_infobox]

sharShar Olivier is a recognized thought leader in Sustainability and the Director of IIL’s Corporate Social Responsibility Practice Area. With more than 18 years of experience in the field, Shar has presented to more than 100,000 professionals across dozens of business sectors. She presented most recently at the PMI Southern Caribbean Chapter in Trinidad on Organizational Survival, and graduated at the top of her class in Environmental Leadership and Sustainability at Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment.

How One Company is Using Project Based Learning to Educate the Next Generation of Project Leaders

By Anne Foley, MBB, CSSBB, PMP
Director of Lean Six Sigma, IIL

When SmartRoots Global CEO Zac Ziebarth visited an impoverished village in Africa, he met an impressive sixteen year-old named Asi. While walking through the scenic countryside with Asi, Zac noticed a significant amount of garbage on the ground.

“Why is there so much pollution?” Zac asked. Asi explained that most people in that area lacked knowledge of pollution, the damage it could bring to their environment and even more importantly, what they could do about it. Zac assumed that perhaps the topic was not covered thoroughly in the local schools and made a commitment to Asi that he would return within the year and provide the knowledge they needed, to solve problems and make some fundamental changes that would reap big rewards for their future.

“At that point, zacI wasn’t completely clear on what I was committing to, but I was sure I could help,” Zac said. “The opportunity energized me and I initially thought that I’d put together some curriculum around pollution, health, and water. I figured that I could talk to school administrators in the area and set up some project based learning so the kids could apply what they were learning to the community and see real-time results from that knowledge. I figured that I would even return at some future point to celebrate the successful completion of those projects.”

Zac’s desire to help that impoverished village has since become the genesis of a for purpose non-profit business that is grabbing the attention of educators and business leaders around the globe. “When I returned from my trip, I assembled a group of well educated, forward thinking volunteers that wanted to help me keep my commitment to Asi.”

Zac and his team worked hard to develop a three week curriculum with an emphasis on solutions-based thinking in seven core areas called the Smart Roots 7:

  • People
  • Health
  • Water
  • Food
  • Energy
  • Pollution
  • Climate

His team concluded that kids need to learn how to collaborate in a project environment, and use some of the problem solving techniques within Lean Six Sigma to help define and solve problems in these areas.

“Even as we were working through the details, we were getting the sense that we had the foundation of something pretty big. Our program would add relevancy to learning by focusing on real world problems that these kids could help to solve through project based application, in their local community. It also provides them some real world experience using concepts and techniques that future employers will expect them to use. It’s a win-win.”

Wanting to pilot the program before taking it back to Africa, Zac reached out to his friend George Helfenstine, who was teaching 7th grade science in an American school. They piloted the program in October of 2014 and the results were so significant that George told Zac that he wanted to be a part of SmartRoots Global in whatever way that could happen. “The SmartRoots program has changed the way my students see the world around them and the way they view themselves. They now see themselves as part of the solution.”

The Chief Operating Officer at Wayside Schools in Austin, Texas, Teresa Elliott, agrees. “The constraints of increased science standards combined with decreased school funding necessitate an innovative approach to education. SmartRoots Global brings a value proposition to the table; project-based learning that creates the desire for scientific knowledge and simultaneously allows students to address problems in their communities, creating problem-solving citizens. Our world cares about children being able to pass a different test – we need responsible civic leaders. Our students must be compelled to know that as a member of their community, they have a responsibility to work with others to keep it functioning and to make it better. SRG’s programming helps them learn how.”

The need for this type of learning is much bigger than Zac ever imagined. “I had no idea that a conversation in Africa about pollution, and my commitment to help, would uncover such a worldwide need in the area of education. It has completely changed my career path.” With a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism, Zac had planned to attend Law School but those plans are now on hold as he builds up the “For Purpose Company” he hopes will play a significant role in developing the next generation of project leaders and problem solvers. As for his promise to Asi, be sure attend Zac’s International Project Management Day presentation, “Sustainability Through Project-Based Education,” to see how the SmartRoots Approach to learning is transforming education around the world.

For more information on SmartRoots Global or to join the movement, please go to

As Project Managers, You’re Shaping the Future

By Shar Olivier, MEM, LEED-AP
IIL’s Global Business Development Manager/Director of Sustainability and CSR

The future is full of uncertainty. As project managers, you are placed in the position of predicting the future on a daily basis, something that scientists and world leaders are attempting to do as our global climate changes at an alarming rate. How do project managers fit into this mix? PMs are not necessarily scientists or leaders of countries, you are not the CEO, at the end of the day what power do you possess? My thinking is that you are the real shapers of the world. You make the choices and the decisions that have lasting effects across the Enterprise and across the Globe.

Every day you make choices, about human capital, about resources and materials, about risk management and change management. By looking at these choices through the lens of Sustainability, and across the Enterprise, NOT just for the duration of your project, you can be the change agents crucial to ensuring a sustainable future. You can develop your Sustainability Consciousness. Can you look at the outcomes of your project for the life of the product or program? Can you forecast first costs vs. last costs? Can you look at the LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) of the project? How do your choices tie into the Supply Chain? And into the Value Chain of the entire Enterprise? These questions can guide your decision making and allow you to reduce risk, and increase profitability and ensure the success of your project (not to mention making your project sponsors and senior stakeholders very happy)!

How can you shape the future with your successful project? Here are three ways:

  1. See your project through the lens of the SEEE™ Model- IIL has developed a model for the four pillars of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility: Social, Economic, Environmental and Ethical


  1. Practice Relentless Risk Analysis– Every time you have a meeting, use the top ten risks as your agenda. Always be asking your team and stakeholders questions about the future. For example: What risks do you see in the near term and long term? What would we do if the top engineer left for another position? What’s the Plan B if we don’t receive the materials on time? Additionally, consider the broader context of Enterprise Risk: How does my project effect the Value Chain of the entire organization? Does my project contribute to Climate Change, or does it help to solve this crucial global risk we all face?
  2. Identify your project’s Sustainability Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and track them. You cannot manage what you do not measure. I am sure most of you are familiar with the old adage, but if has never been more relevant. What resources/materials are involved in my project? Were they sourced responsibly? What are the effects of your project on Air Quality, Water Quality or Ecosystem Services? What is my project’s carbon footprint? How much Greenhouse Gases (GHG) has my project produced or sequestered? How does your project effect the Human Capital involved and community in which it takes place? Have all stakeholders been taken into consideration? By embedding these questions and Metrics into your project from the onset, you will impact the outcomes and the total Value Chain across the Enterprise.

In order to reliably assess what the future holds for your project, you need to gather relevant data on a regular basis at frequent intervals. This not only instills a discipline in reporting, but it enables you, the project manager, and others, to detect trends and predict outcomes. If you are keeping track of trends, then you’ll be in a better position to see where those trends lead.

Another crucial aspect of success is to cross over business units and communicate. Do not allow your team to be put into a silo. Involve HR, Finance, and other business units in your project planning and outcomes. Understand the Enterprise functionality and how integrated thinking and communication is vital to the success of your project.

Predicting the future isn’t easy, but with the right global vision and the right team focus on enterprise risk and impacts, we can each be leaders to our stakeholders, and our projects will have the lasting impacts for a sustainable future.

Please visit and take part in IPM Day 2015: Ensuring a Sustainable Future

sharShar Olivier is a recognized thought leader in Sustainability and the Director of IIL’s Corporate Social Responsibility Practice Area. With more than 18 years of experience in the field, Shar has presented to more than 100,000 professionals across dozens of business sectors. She presented most recently at the PMI Southern Caribbean Chapter in Trinidad on Organizational Survival, and graduated at the top of her class in Environmental Leadership and Sustainability at Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment.