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Meet our Keynote Speaker

Every year, the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council finds a local business leader, who promotes innovative and sustainable business practices, to come and speaker as our Keynote. The 11th Annual Wisconsin Sustainable Business Conference is honored to have Tim Wiora, CEO - WMEP deliver our morning keynote. Unlike years past, our afternoon keynote will not be hosted by one individual. Rather, the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council board will be presenting ideas on business leadership and shaping the future of our community.


Meet Our Morning Key Note: Tim Wiora

Prior to assuming the Executive Director/CEO for the WMEP in January 2016, Tim Wiora served as the WMEP’s Director of Consulting where he helped the organization grow and generate over $700 million of impact (sales, cost savings, and capital investments) for Wisconsin manufacturers and stakeholders. Tim Wiora worked as a senior administrative program specialist for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to his work at UW-Madison, Wiora was senior manager and practice lead for process and technology optimization at Scientific Commercialization in Madison. Wiora also worked as program manager and strategy consultant for yet another Madison company, Safe Bridge Solutions. In addition, he spent 11 years as associate director of information systems for Kraft Foods in Madison. He also has operated his own information technology consulting operation, Wiora Business & Technical Solutions, which focuses on small and mid-size manufacturers.


Breakout Sessions

One of the most exciting and unique aspects of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Conference are the diverse and informative breakout sessions. The Conference planning team takes great pride in coordinating breakout sessions that are not only practical, but focus on personal aspects of business operations. Breakout sessions are a great way for individuals to ask questions about specific aspects of Wisconsin Businesses, while offering businesses an outlet to describe the importance of sustainability in innovative business practices. The conference will have morning and afternoon breakout sessions, that will vary from Women in Sustainability, to Food and Employee Wellness. The following are a series of brief descriptions of the breakout sessions we will be offering this year.


Morning Breakout Sessions

Women in Sustainability: The Evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility

As sustainability became an issue that more and more businesses addressed, women came to dominate the decision-making roles in the field. This session will highlight the shift that has happened from the perspective of women working in sustainability that are representing different generations in the workforce.

Sustainability Leadership Programs: B Corps, Conscious Capitalism, 1% for the Planet

Since the development of the Green Masters Program in Wisconsin, there have been many national sustainability programs that have emerged. Programs like B Corps and 1% for the Planet, and approaches like Conscious Capitalism have played a major role in forming and expanding a community of sustainable leaders. Whether it's by applying to the program (B Corps and 1% for the Planet) or subscribing to the tenants of Conscious Capitalism, Wisconsin companies are leading the way. Come hear from participants/practitioners about what's involved in applying, what the benefits have been, and how participation guides and shapes businesses practices.

Business Leadership on Carbon and Climate

The challenge of carbon linked climate change has become a priority for both business and government. The US initially entered into the Paris Climate Accord, and then pulled out under the Trump administration. Fortunately, Wisconsin has business leaders who understand the impact and consequence of continuously increasing carbon emissions. These leaders have stepped forward with a commitment to cut their own emissions and are leading their business sectors forward. You'll hear about the development of strategies, implementation experiences, and ways these successes are being communicated to others.

Zero Waste/Low Waste

A number of companies in Wisconsin, and around the country, are making commitments to generate zero waste from their facilities. This is often an ambitious target, frustrated at times by changing markets for recyclables. In addition, many companies are under pressure to reduce packaging waste from consumer groups. The speakers will talk about their experiences in waste minimization and working toward zero waste. You'll be hearing from Cassie Yustus from Oshkosh Defense, Karl Niemi from Fiskars, and Jenna Kunde from Johnson Controls.

Water as a Sustainability Issue

For years, companies started down a path toward becoming more sustainable by tackling first energy issues and second waste issues. While these issues are still important to companies, water is becoming the hot new topic. At the same time, Wisconsin is home to the Global Water Center and the Alliance for Water Stewardship's (AWS) International Water Standard. Leadership in addressing water as a sustainability issue is being grown right here in Wisconsin. Hear from Matt Howard, the North American lead for developing the International Water Standard and two of the companies he is working with.

Food and Employee Wellness

Businesses have integrated corporate wellness programs within their sustainability programs and within company culture. Providing healthy options ensures that employees learn about portion size and what foods are good for them and how to prepare them. Employees (and often their families) benefit and employers benefit from a more committed (and happier and healthier) employee. This breakout session will feature companies that have invested in corporate wellness programs and examines the impact a corporate wellness program has on creating a healthier workforce.


Afternoon Breakout Sessions

Transparency and Third Party Certification

Transparency has become a critical expectation of businesses in Wisconsin. Customers and investors are asking for more transparency than ever before. One option toward credibly becoming more transparent is to participate in third party certification programs. The WI Sustainable Business Council offers the Green Masters Program, but there are many other third party programs available to businesses. We'll hear from 3 businesses regarding which programs they use and why, the benefits of becoming more transparent and the effort involved in using third party programs.

Leveraging Sustainability in a Tight Labor Market:

Wisconsin's unemployment rate is less than 3%--which means employers are increasingly competing for workers. Additionally, new entrants to the workforce--millennials and Gen Zers--have different priorities than previous generations. They want purposeful work, they want assurances that their employer is contributing to a greater good, and they want real opportunities to grow. Attend this session to find out how companies are leveraging their sustainability efforts to recruit and retain talent while also learning more about what potential employees want from employers.

Internal Organization Around Sustainability:

Sustainability meets organizational design. Some companies have senior managers responsible for implementing sustainable actions. Some have teams. Organizational designs frequently change over time. This session focuses on how sustainability is addressed within company hierarchy and the pros and cons of the various approaches. The speakers will also talk about how internal structure evolves and changes over time.

Materiality and Sustainability

Companies interested in sustainability need to address both environmental and social challenges. Each of these aspects of sustainability present many options for companies to focus on. In deciding where to focus resources and attention, some assessment of what is most important both to the company and to its stakeholders must be done. This is where an assessment of materiality becomes quite useful. Jeff Jaeckels from MG&E has been working on what is material to his utility for several years, and will share what he has learned. Similarly, MillerCoors has used a materiality assessment to focus up their supply chain where the greatest opportunities to make a difference lie. If understanding what is material to your business is a challenge you face, this session will give you the tools and experiences to move forward.

Now That You've Embraced Sustainability, What Do You Do?:

This session will feature speakers from companies that have committed to sustainability and got some easy early wins. The next projects though cost a bit more, or take a bit more time, or require other people that are busy doing other things. How do these companies maintain the momentum? What tools are available to help companies overcome this inertia? This breakout session really exemplifies this year’s conference theme of “sustainably forward,” because it focuses on moving forward even when it is hard.

Benchmarking Sustainability Performance:

You may have found that there is a lot of interest in measuring and assessing your sustainability performance. But, often, the needs of one set of stakeholders are quite different from another. This session aims to address and identify best practices in benchmarking so as to meet the needs and expectations of your stakeholders. You will be hearing from Brenda Kubasik from MG&E, John Mourand from Briggs and Straton, and Mark Alan from Inpro. They will discuss how their companies have benchmarked their sustainability performance and how their choices of metrics have been shaped by their communication strategies.


For more information about breakout sessions speakers, visit our 2018 Conference page and see our conference agenda. In addition, if you are looking for hotel accommodations for the night before the conference, we still have rooms reserved at the Best Western Premier Park Hotel. All registrations must be booked by November 21st. Book Here


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