Get to know Monica Batchelder, HPE’s Chief Sustainability Officer

APRIL 24, 2023 • Q&A

Monica Batchelder, HPE’s Chief Sustainability Officer, talks leadership, her passion for the environment, and how HPE is helping customers on their sustainability journeys

We had a chance to sit down with Monica and find out why she believes HPE is positioned to create a positive impact through sustainable technology.

Did you always aspire to be a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO)?

Becoming a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) was never part of a “master plan”. In fact, the role didn’t even exist when I was growing up, but my father encouraged me to be curious, to enjoy learning, and to spend time learning about the things that I was passionate about. Looking back, taking a more circuitous route to where I am today has proven to be a real asset in my job. That’s because CSOs need to employ a multidisciplinary approach to what we do. We need to make a challenge relevant to different stakeholders and drive innovation by connecting dots in new ways. We also need to be able to influence and gain buy-in without necessarily having formal authority. So, having had a diverse background really helps me work effectively between groups and cross-functional teams. In the end, investing time on the things that fascinated me has given me a breadth of experience that enables me to consider a challenge from multiple perspectives, and the ability to work with experts across multiple subject areas.

Where did your interest in sustainability begin?

I grew up in San Francisco, with a passion for the outdoors, spending time hiking, backpacking, and skiing. Looking back, that is what led me to pursue environmental science—long before I recognized that corporate sustainability could be a career, much less an imperative. What keeps me going is working with and learning from a diverse and dynamic team every day who share the deep sense of purpose, possibility, and responsibility that I do.

What excites you about being a sustainability leader within the technology sector?

The work we do is not only transforming our own business, it’s helping others advance their own sustainability missions. I’m proud to work at HPE because I truly believe that technology and innovation are the best and biggest ways that we can create a positive impact. The magnitude of the challenges facing the planet today requires the kind of rapidly scalable innovation only technology can deliver, and will require urgent, collaborative action from all sectors. As a global technology vendor in today’s digital-first economy, HPE is uniquely positioned to help reduce the footprint of IT while expanding the positive transformative impacts that technology can deliver.

What are some of the most significant levers that HPE can pull to address climate change?

We’re really focused on delivering sustainable IT solutions to our customers because this is ultimately where we can have the most significant impact toward our ambitious goal of reaching net-zero emissions across our value chain by 2040. Of course, our first priority is to minimize the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over which we have direct control – those that result from our company operations. However, these emissions actually comprise only a small share of our carbon footprint. Ultimately, we can only achieve our goals through strong, innovative partnerships— partnerships upstream with our suppliers and theirs, with our customers, and even with our peers and competitors to drive the industry transformation necessary. It’s invigorating to see how all these stakeholders—within and outside of HPE—are joining together to tackle the incredible challenge and opportunity that climate change poses.

Is there anything unique about your leadership style that you bring to the role?

I focus on using cross-disciplinary thinking and leverage my background in communications to help every person in an organization, no matter what their job, understand the relevance and significance of sustainability to their position. If everyone in the company can see how we can move the needle on sustainability, even a little bit, the collective impact really makes a huge difference.

Since taking over as Chief Sustainability Officer last year, are there any specific focus areas that you’ve been driving?

An area I’ve been really focussed on driving has been to enhance and expand the sustainability expertise of our global workforce, especially of our sales teams. With the significant uptick in customer interest in sustainability, we knew that we needed our sales teams to be able to proactively identify opportunities where customers could achieve sustainability gains. Relying solely on our dedicated sustainability technologists in the Living Progress organization meant that we were missing opportunities in situations where sustainability simply had not been considered within the scope of the customer brief. Knowing how many of HPE’s technology solutions inherently carry sustainability advantages, I wanted to arm our sales teams with the knowledge and skills they needed to be able to present sustainable IT solutions early on in customer conversations – so that HPE had an opportunity to showcase not only how our technology contributes to our customer’s business benefits, but HPE’s commitment to sustainability as well. I’m really proud that my team has been at the forefront of taking sustainability from a box-ticking exercise to being a true differentiator in the marketplace that allows us to grow our business.