Policy and advocacy are common components of the sustainability movement, but the business world also has much to offer. Since earning her B.B.A. in marketing from Notre Dame, Katie Padilla (’03) has managed a variety of consulting projects, exploring different facets of the private sector. Her previous work ranged from implementing software for Kaiser Permanente to developing best practices for Fortune 500 companies.
After enjoying the unique challenges of each project, Katie determined that she wanted to combine the satisfaction of solving these problems with her passion for sustainability. She got her master’s in Global Environmental Policy from American University while interning at an environmental consulting firm. When this firm was acquired by consulting firm K·Coe Isom Katie was delighted to be offered the position of Sustainability Project Manager.
Now Katie works with a variety of food and agriculture clients to improve their sustainability standards and implement monitoring to ensure that goals are met. These diverse clients keep Katie on her toes. She explains: “Understanding the core sustainability and supply chain challenges associated with multiple commodities can be challenging, but I enjoy the fact that I can always continue to learn in my role. My current position often requires getting up to speed quickly and leveraging industry experts, such as food animal production experts at universities, to deliver successful outcomes for our clients.”
The challenges of serving several clients and confronting different projects comes with the satisfaction of helping businesses improve their sustainability. After working with a large food company to create a triple bottom line sustainability assessment, examining social, economic and environmental impacts, Katie enjoyed seeing the client continue to use the assessment to improve sustainability efforts. For Katie, witnessing this development is a highlight of her position. She says, “I find that helping clients to address the key sustainability challenges they face is very fulfilling on a personal and professional level.”
Combining her personal passion for sustainability with her career aspirations as a consultant has been a successful, yet unexpected trajectory for Katie. “I never thought I’d be working on sustainability issues for clients in food and agriculture when I was a Notre Dame student, but I have found it to be a very interesting and fulfilling career,” she explains. Katie urges current students to explore sustainability in many avenues, including those that they never anticipated.