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School Profile: Jessica Thurston

by Frédérique Fyhr
|September 28, 2022

Jessica Thurston

Photograph: Brooke Alexander / Brooke Studio

Jessica Thurston is the Senior Director of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Technique and Reporting at Paramount International. Thurston leads the event and execution of the worldwide media firm’s ESG priorities throughout all of its operations and types, from MTV to CBS Sports activities, and from shopper merchandise to actual property and services.

Her background is within the improvement of ESG and company sustainability methods, having consulted for a number of main corporations and dealing on the event of sustainable procurement insurance policies for the US federal authorities. Thurston earned her Masters in Administration of Sustainability at Columbia College, the place she now serves as an adjunct professor.

What initially motivated you to dedicate your self to the sector of sustainability?

My undergraduate diploma is in city design, which was a part of the Carnegie Mellon Faculty of Structure. That program was forward of its time in encouraging college students to assume holistically about city methods and choice externalities that have an effect on the constructed setting. It allowed me to assume broadly about what sustainability means: sure, for the constructed setting, however past that, for governments and companies and their inefficiencies. To this present day, I view ESG as an train to find “leaning within the system”ー as a way of figuring out inefficiencies that, when resolved, will profit the setting, society, and organizations alike.

What attracted you to the Columbia Local weather Faculty and the Faculty of Skilled Research?

In 2012, after I began as a Sustainability Administration scholar whereas working full-time, I knew I needed to broaden my technical background in sustainability whereas additionally studying extra about increasing sustainability as a subject. I used to be already working in New York Metropolis and it made sense to hunt out the very best establishment, Columbia College, to take this endeavor severely.

What course will you be instructing this fall, and what are you most enthusiastic about?

This fall, I can be instructing ESG Governance. I’m delighted to be instructing this course and immersing myself in discussions about how choices are made and the way excessive danger points are managed, particularly in publicly traded corporations. It’s important for anybody who needs to work in sustainability and ESG to grasp the transition pressures and dangers that form enterprise and authorities choices concerning sustainability.

Regardless of one’s subject, whether or not you are coming from a really environmental background, or range, fairness and inclusion, finance or something, it is completely key to grasp what we imply once we speak about ESG governance. It should enhance us all.

What adjustments do you hope to see within the subject of sustainability sooner or later?

I wish to see companies held to larger requirements for disclosure. We should not have the posh of time for organizations globally to navigate this advanced subject, and due to this fact we want as many sustainability professionals within the workforce as doable.

What recommendation do you’ve for college kids pursuing a profession in sustainability?

Be taught as a lot as you’ll be able to: a real number of subjects and industries and the way sustainability takes form in every of them. But in addition delve into an space, whether or not it is provide chain points, governance, materiality, water, or no matter you select. Be the skilled in that subject and you will be an important member of a staff trying to fill that function.

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