Corporate sustainability expert joins ASU

portrait of Sheila Bonini

Corporate sustainability expert Sheila Bonini, whose work has taken her all over the United States, South America and Europe, will come to Arizona State University to lead a signature public-private partnership focused on consumer product sustainability.

Bonini has been appointed CEO of The Sustainability Consortium, a unit of ASU's Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability; she will be joining the institute's community of sustainability scientists and scholars.

The consortium was co-founded in 2009 by ASU and the University of Arkansas to develop a new scientific approach to measure the sustainability of consumer products. Today, member organizations in the Consortium number more than 90, including some of the largest consumer product companies in the world, NGOs, civil society and governmental organizations, as well as small corporations from all corners of business.

Setting the standard

The consortium develops science-based tools to help consumer goods companies measure and report on the sustainability of their products, enumerating the environmental and social impacts throughout a product's life cycle – from collection of raw materials, to manufacturing, packaging, distribution, use and eventual disposal.

Co-administered by ASU and the University of Arkansas, the consortium also has additional operations at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and Nanjing University in China.

Scientists at these universities collect and analyze a vast quantity of data. They work with member organizations and other experts to summarize the issues and opportunities associated with a category of products, such as computers or beef, and they develop tools for companies to assess their performance. The result of this work is what the consortium calls a product sustainability toolkit, which helps businesses to identify improvement opportunities in product design, supply chain and purchasing.

Retailers, manufacturers, suppliers, governments, NGOs, researchers and consumers all hold a stake in the sustainability of global product production and consumption. The consortium’s measurement and reporting system is credible, transparent, standardized and scalable to organizations at any point in a company's supply chain. Its measurement products are increasingly being utilized by companies, and the prospect of widespread adoption is in the near future.

New leadership

Bonini joins the consortium after more than 15 years with the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company, where she served as senior expert consultant and co-leader of the company's Sustainability Transformation Service. Her work at McKinsey & Company focused on the link between social and environmental impact and financial value creation, and has recently been covered in GreenBiz and CFO Magazine.

Bonini's advisory experience cuts across sectors, and includes sustainability strategy, regulatory strategy, supply chains and products. Prior experience includes investment banking at Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, as well as positions with the Hewlett Foundation and Stanford’s Center for Social Innovation. Bonini holds an AB Degree in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University and an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Bonini is very familiar with the consortium, having led the McKinsey team that analyzed and provided advice to TSC in 2011 and, more recently, as lead on collaborative research work. Independently, Bonini has also led research collaborations with the World Wildlife Fund, the Carbon Disclosure Project and other TSC members. Bonini replaces Kara Hurst, who is joining, Inc. as that company's sustainability lead.

"Sheila is widely acknowledged as a world-class expert in sustainability. Her vast experience advising businesses on sustainability strategy and her knowledge of the marketplace make Sheila an ideal leader of The Sustainability Consortium as it continues to develop and implement cutting-edge, science-based tools for measuring the sustainability of consumer products. Sheila is simply the right person at the right time," said Rob Melnick, executive director of the ASU Wrigley Institute and member of The Sustainability Consortium's Board.

Bonini commented, “I am thrilled to join The Sustainability Consortium in this leadership role and help advance sustainable consumer goods globally. When you assess the impact of consumption and consumer goods across the value chain, the size of the opportunity is immense. The power of TSC is bringing together the right constellation of players – the best of corporate, NGO, civil society and research – to find the right answers, drive impact and make a better planet.”

Susan Arnot Heaney
The Sustainability Consortium | 917-209-9518