Meet our sustainability experts

Writing a more sustainable, equal and just future for UPS
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With decades of experience, UPS’s sustainability experts are laying the groundwork for the future of the company. Learn about their backgrounds, as well as advice for emerging sustainability professionals.

Patrick Browne

Vice president, domestic sustainability

32 years at UPS

What are your thoughts on the recent sustainability goals announcement?

I’m proud to work for a company like UPS that is leading the way in innovation. Climate change is one of the defining challenges of our time, with solutions urgently needed before 2050. But we also face a crisis of equity. Global trade has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, but there is still a long way to go. Too many lack the health, safety and well-being that everyone needs to thrive. And the fight to create truly diverse, equitable and inclusive communities is far from won.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to future sustainability leaders?

Don’t give up. Be professional and courteous, but persistent. As a sustainability professional, if you’re not having difficult conversations every day and pushing others beyond their normal comfort level, then you’re not doing your job.

Elba Pareja-Gallagher

Director, stakeholder engagement

24 years at UPS

What inspired you to join the sustainability team?
My role, director of stakeholder engagement, is a brand new position within UPS’s sustainability team. My unique combination of experiences, especially my career in finance and my passion for social change, gave me confidence I could contribute to meaningful and lasting change. The chance to shape the future from the vantage point of an $84 billion respected global brand was compelling and fit my personal values.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to future sustainability leaders?
Get smart on speaking the language of business. Know how your company makes money, know the business strategy and align sustainability initiatives to the execution of business goals.

Peter Harris

Vice president, international sustainability

31 years at UPS

What's the biggest sustainability lesson you've learned in your career?

First, that the grand challenges of our time – climate change and inequality – are inseparable and as a result require joined-up thinking. And second, business has a crucial role to play because successful communities need successful businesses, and businesses ultimately depend on successful communities.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to future sustainability leaders?

The world needs you and sustainability is a great career choice, but first ground yourself in your organization. Sustainability is totally cross-functional, involving engineering, communications, public policy, human resources and more. So it’s only by understanding the way these functions work and interconnect to form a successful organization that you in turn can be successful.  

Penny Naas

President, international public affairs and sustainability

9 years at UPS

Why are you passionate about sustainability?

I’ve been passionate about sustainability since I was very young, spurred by my love of nature. When I was in high school my classmates and I started a “zero hour” class before school on the future, looking at technology and the environment. The result of that class was a paper on the decline in the ozone layer and the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, and what 2030 would look like for humans if we didn’t address the declining ozone layer and increasing level of CO2 in the atmosphere. 

Later, my husband, who is Danish, lived for three years in Greenland. Seeing what’s happening with the melting glaciers and the impact on Greenland provides undeniable evidence of the impact of climate change.  

What's one piece of advice you'd give to future sustainability leaders?

Business and governments, working together, can do more to address the climate change challenges than one working alone. We all have to be part of the solution, and we need to hold each other accountable.

Nikki Clifton

President, social impact and The UPS Foundation

18 years at UPS

What inspired you to join The UPS Foundation?

I’m passionate about making a difference in the world. I firmly believe that the business community has a unique opportunity and an obligation to give back to the communities where we live and work. Leading social impact and global philanthropy for The UPS Foundation is inspiring because every day we find ways to leverage the scale of our company, the expertise and generosity of our employees and the breadth of our assets to deliver a more equitable and just world.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to future sustainability leaders?

Communicate authentically and use effective storytelling to explain why sustainability matters and our role in advancing best practices to protect the planet.

Joe Ruiz

Vice President, social impact and The UPS Foundation, health & humanitarian relief and planet protection

33 years at UPS. 

What drives your sustainability work?

What drives my sustainability work is an unwavering commitment to build resilient and healthier communities around the world. Through the efforts of The UPS Foundation and our partners, we’re planting 50 million trees and advancing environmental research that will have a tremendous impact on our world by improving air quality, fostering better health outcomes and improving the quality of life in metropolitan areas and developing countries. As we continue to focus on decarbonization solutions, we are committed to advancing environmental justice and moving our world forward in an environmentally conscious and socially responsible manner. 

What's one piece of advice you'd give to UPSers about planet protection?

Just like we try to be good neighbors, we should strive to be good community stewards also. It’s important we all take measures to protect the planet. Every person, regardless of geographic region or socio-economic class, deserves to breathe clean air, drink clean water and live in a safe and healthy environment. Being conscious of how our personal actions might affect our neighbors is a first step to creating a more just and sustainable world.

Esther Ndichu

Vice president, social impact and The UPS Foundation, international community engagement

16 years at UPS

What inspired you to get involved in humanitarian relief?

Being an African, I had first-hand exposure to many humanitarian issues, which led me to study international relations and political science for my undergrad degree. When I graduated, I thought I would work at the United Nations or CARE International, but that didn’t happen. Instead I ended up in logistics. When I joined UPS and heard about The UPS Foundation, I felt it was a very natural fit because it allowed me to pursue something that I was passionate about while practicing the expertise I learned in the logistics field.         

What's one piece of advice you'd give to future resiliency leaders?

The United Nations Sustainability Development Goals focus on 17 thematic areas with the end goal of improving the world we live in. There are multiple opportunities for future leaders to get involved, from eliminating global hunger to advancing gender equality. We need future resiliency leaders to be creative, out-of-the-box, global thinkers to help solve these challenges. Being innovation driven is going to be the game-changer to build a more sustainable world.

Sue Schmidlkofer

Global director of diversity, equity and inclusion

27 years at UPS

How do we build a culture of Inclusion?

Building a culture of inclusion requires empathy, humility, advocacy, listening, authenticity, trust, professionalism, psychological safety, open-mindedness, awareness of bias, accountability – and of course, respect. It calls for a social movement for good. When you share your personal stories about those defining experiences, it begins to resonate with others. And when you listen to others share their stories, you practice empathy or what’s commonly referred to as putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. It gives you an understanding of another person’s perspective, experience and feelings. But remember, we have to keep in mind how they feel – not how we would feel.

We are all unique individuals who want to belong and who should be celebrated and respected for our differences.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to future social sustainability leaders?

It’s critically important to value different perspectives, opinions and thoughts. Surround yourself with individuals who help you think differently and challenge you to listen more.

Hans-Peter Teufers

Director, social impact and The UPS Foundation, international resiliency programs

35 years at UPS

What inspired you to get involved in humanitarian relief?

In Public Affairs, I had a slight preview of the humanitarian world and was consequently exposed to the demands of citizens, refugees, victims of unequitable treatment, and often inhumane conditions. The one common theme among those in need is they were all struggling for a better life. This stark reality deeply impacted me. Working with The UPS Foundation has offered me the opportunity to potentially create better conditions for those in need of dire help.


What's one piece of advice you'd give to future resiliency leaders?

Profit, people and planet are often informally considered the three principles of sustainability. And while they are relevant, it’s important to focus on resilience as another piece to the puzzle. Every dollar invested in resilience saves $5 to $6 in relief and recovery. It’s my hope that we, as economic-minded people, would invest more resources and time in resilience efforts to ensure our world is healthy and safe for all.

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