Allison DeGeorge is not your average San Diegan. When she’s not spending time outside with her family, she’s bringing her passion for the environment to her day job as an Associate Director of Climate Solutions at Persefoni. Persefoni is a transformative SaaS platform that enables companies and financial institutions to easily meet stakeholder and regulatory climate disclosure requirements and requests. As an associate director, Allison supports a team of qualified climate solutions specialists who assist customers with the full lifecycle of their platform - from sales solutioning to ongoing strategic support. We asked Allison how she aligned her passion for sustainability and her career path, what she sees as challenges in addressing climate change, and how she maintains hope while doing difficult work.
Tell us about your career experience in the field of climate solutions and your journey to becoming an Associate Climate Solutions Director at Persefoni.
In 2016, I was working in internal communications at Viasat. My background, at that point was primarily in communications. I loved the company and culture but communications was never a passion of mine. I was influenced by a book called “Zero Waste Home” by Bea Johnson. The book changed my life as I became infinitely more aware of the actual state of the climate crisis. I had young children and the book’s underlying message inspired a bit of a panic attack about what kind of world I wanted to bring them into.
After recognizing the real impacts of climate change, I became a social advocate for reducing waste and acting more sustainably in my personal life (meaning I blew up an Instagram account trying to educate and excite people). At the time the Social Impact Director at Viasat was growing her team and noted that sustainability was a gap, so she asked me to lead sustainability on the team. I didn’t think I was qualified but she assured me of the role and reminded me of my strengths and influence I could engage by leveraging the company’s purpose-driven culture. A door opened in front of me for a career I was passionate about. So, I accepted. The role started with small projects like campus improvements and events engaging employees, then it grew into larger projects. Fast forward to today, Viasat now has public ESG reporting and a carbon inventory– that all stems from the foundation I helped build.
I valued the opportunity to implement carbon accounting at a global publicly traded company and was able to pursue my graduate degree in sustainability while in that role. In the end I was ready to fully submerse myself in the climate world, and find a team that could really push the boundaries of what I was capable of. Eventually, I landed at Persefoni— an entire company filled with climate nerds. I get to learn from brilliant people and solve crazy hard challenges daily.
As an Associate Climate Solutions Director, what do you believe are the key challenges and opportunities in addressing climate change? How do you plan to contribute to Persefoni's efforts in addressing these challenges?
The biggest challenge is addressing the unknown. Today, a lot of companies don't have a sustainability manager in-house and do not understand what is required to begin calculating their carbon footprint let alone set realistic targets to reduce their emissions. We are seeing companies struggling with beginning their journey in calculating their carbon emissions for the first time. Moreover, not understanding how to reduce it. Equally important, companies need to continually evolve their data quality over time to ensure they are calculating their emissions as accurately as possible. Organizations need to gradually evolve from spend-based calculations to those based on average data, and eventually supplier specific calculations. That's how you figure out the levers for reduction. It's complicated, and companies simply don't have the resources they need when addressing these challenges.
As a global community, we don't have the amount of sustainability talent we need to execute carbon neutrality. This work has to be supplemented with technology and highly efficient processes to make it scalable at the level that we need for climate action. That's what brought me to Persefoni – that is the really exciting challenge we are working to solve, climate action at scale.
Persefoni is known for its innovative approach to climate solutions. In your role, how do you provide data-driven solutions for addressing climate change, and help your customers scale their impact?
I've been in the shoes of my customers, trying to figure out how to get my hands on all the data that nobody has collected before. That perspective helps me relate to them when they are overwhelmed by the task at hand, and more importantly guide them to possible solutions. If a situation arises where I do not have the best solution for my customer, I can just turn to the team. Persefoni has climate experts weaved throughout our organization. We regularly talk to each other and share ideas. Our cross-team collaboration is what makes our product so good. We're all invited to the table to figure out how to improve our work.
Climate solutions are consistently evolving thanks to technology advancements, policy changes, and market dynamics. How do you stay ahead of everything going on? And how do you incorporate it into your strategies?
I am a perpetual learner. I have a master's in education (which I don't use anymore) and one in sustainability leadership, so I am a total nerd. Persefoni employees are life-long learners, so individually we are doing our own research in our areas of expertise and sharing with the team. If a problem comes up for a customer, we research the solution and share it with each other. These days, most of my learning comes from the ridiculously smart people I work with. Leadership is directly plugged into what's happening in the world and ensuring we are headed in a direction of unified carbon accounting. Our leadership team also shares the inside scoop about what’s happening in the regulatory landscape and uses that to inform our customer work.
What is your approach to measuring the impact of climate solutions? Can you share any examples of how you have assessed the effectiveness of climate solutions in your previous roles, and how you plan to apply similar approaches at Persefoni?
In sustainability, measuring impact is something most of us grapple with. I often find myself asking: Am I making a big enough difference? Am I having a big enough impact? Nothing feels enough. When you're looking at the future and reading the latest IPCC report, does anything feel enough? I give my all to my work. I came to Persefoni because I knew after some amount of time that influencing one company wasn't enough for me, I wanted to do more. Companies and corporations are going to be the key to moving the needle. I wanted to have the opportunity to directly get my hands on more. My role at Persefoni satisfies that, allowing me to make an impact daily with customers and the team. It is rewarding seeing a customer wrap up their first inventory or have a light bulb moment about their company’s impact. We all feel the stress, but working at a company like Persefoni and giving it my all is how I deal with the state of the world.
I am encouraged because I’m working on the cutting edge of progress. Already we have come a long way from when I started in sustainability—constantly convincing people that they would be required to disclose their carbon footprint— to our current progress of helping companies along their journey of calculating, planning and reducing their carbon emissions. This progress gives me hope.