Skip to main content

ASU alum helps corporations operate more sustainably

September 03, 2013

Growing up in Gonzales, southern Louisiana, Andrea Baty was always outdoors – hiking, playing and exploring. The outdoors taught her about the human impact on the environment, which led her to study environmental management as an undergraduate at Louisiana State University. Back then, Baty thought large corporations were the bad guys and the source of all environmental woes.

But after studying at ASU’s School of Sustainability and graduating with her master’s in 2010, her mindset changed.

“I started to understand that the only way to get these corporations to change is to work from the inside,” Baty says. “That’s why I started freelancing as a sustainability consultant for VF Sportswear, a division of VF Corporation, in New York.”

You may not have heard of VF Corporation, but you probably recognize such brands as Nautica, Wrangler, The North Face, Vans, Reef, Kipling, and the list goes on. VF Corporation owns 25 apparel and footwear brands worth $11 billion. Baty’s freelance job turned into a full-fledged sustainability coordinator position in the Sportswear division that includes Kipling and Nautica.

As the sustainability coordinator, Baty is responsible for developing a sustainability strategy for the division, designing employee engagement programs, organizing volunteer events, presenting on corporate sustainability and tracking greenhouse gas emissions for Kipling and Nautica. Right now, she’s assisting Nautica in developing a consumer sustainability education campaign and helping Kipling design sustainable products.

“My duties allow me to see the impact of shifting a company to more sustainable operations,” Baty says. “There is a large effect of one company’s operations that ripples down to supply chains and people.”

What first started as a hobby, Baty’s graphic design skills also come in handy at VF Sportswear.

“I design presentations and engagement materials that catch people’s eye,” Baty says. “I’ve also done a lot of research about the psychology of why people change behaviors and apply that information to decide the best way of communicating sustainability to a wide, diverse audience.”

As a graduate student in the School of Sustainability, Baty knew she wanted to work for a large corporation, so she took a variety of courses to equip herself with a well-rounded, inclusive understanding of sustainability. She studied sustainability through the lens of the humanities, sciences and business – an approach she didn’t find at other colleges.

“ASU’s School of Sustainability was the only school that had a dedicated sustainability degree at the time,” she says. “The school was also just getting started and I liked the idea of being part of the beginning of a movement.”

In a way, Baty is continuing that collaborative movement at VF Sportswear.

“I love working with people,” she says. “I love seeing their excitement in finding ways to help people and the planet by applying sustainability. I help bring their ideas to life and it’s fun to connect people from different departments and backgrounds to push a sustainable product forward.”

After graduating from the school, Baty took some freelance jobs and honed her graphic design skills before landing her position at VF Sportswear. Like Baty, recent graduates may not find a job right away, but she says to keep the three Ps of success in mind: persistence, passion and patience.

“In addition to your expertise in the three Ps of sustainability – people, planet and profit – you have to show your passion, keep at it and have patience while searching for a job,” she says. “Don’t lose hope.”

ASU sustainability graduates can find career advice and opportunities by visiting the School of Sustainability’s Career Development page.