How University of Texas Students are Helping EnerSys make Strides on Sustainability
When EnerSys® Senior Director of Global Sustainability, Sam Shiroff, saw an email from Spring Theory, a team that curates experiential learning opportunities between universities and companies, he wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. The message asked if EnerSys would be interested in exploring whether a group of students at the University of Texas at Austin Longhorn Impact Fellowship (LIFT) program might be able to assist the company with a sustainability opportunity.
LIFT, a program through the Global Sustainability Leadership Institute (GSLI) at McCombs, pairs student consultants with sustainable corporations, social enterprises, and non-profits to solve sustainability and impact-focused problems while giving the student participants real-world experience.
That’s how Sam met Rumya Velu (BBA Management Information Systems ’23), Sabrina Nava (MS Energy and Earth Resources ’23), Allison McNairy (BS Environmental Science ’23) and Joshua Dexter (BS Chemical Engineering ’22).
During the first four months of 2022, the students met with Sam once a week and worked with him on gathering all the information needed for EnerSys to submit its first-ever CDP disclosure. Participation in CDP demonstrates corporate leadership in sustainability and can help identify key risks and opportunities for companies as Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) topics become increasingly important for investors and customers alike.
Not only did the LIFT GSLI group help EnerSys answer over 100 CDP questions, but they also evaluated strengths and opportunities for EnerSys to further its sustainability goals and become a more committed global citizen.
In exchange, Sam offered the students valuable lessons that are rarely ever taught in the classroom. Joshua Dexter ’22, noted that this experience taught him “what ‘sustainability’ means, beyond being a buzzword.” Josh was “thrilled to be able to work with a company that’s at the heart of the movement towards clean energy and see how sustainability is actually implemented and contextualized in a corporate setting beyond what’s taught in school.”
In completing the CDP questionnaire, Sabrina Nava ’23, was surprised at how interconnected sustainability is with other issues like governance and social justice. “As someone who focuses on sustainability strictly from an energy perspective, I was intrigued at how all-encompassing CDP recognizes sustainability to be,” she noted.
Rumya Velu ’23 said beyond the lessons learned completing the CDP questionnaire, she really looked forward to “Sam’s weekly stories and lessons on the corporate world and how to engage in a professional setting. Allison McNairy ’23 seconded that statement said that Sam was great at guiding them through the experience in a way that really made the most of the semester, especially by explaining “change this and here’s why” instead of making edits to their work without clarification or guidance.
From left to right: Rumya Velu (BBA Management Information Systems ’23), Joshua Dexter (BS Chemical Engineering ’22). Sabrina Nava (MS Energy and Earth Resources ’23) and Allison McNairy (BS Environmental Science ’23).
The partnership was mutually beneficial in more ways than one, and Sam could not praise the group enough for their hard work, dedication to learning about CDP and sustainability, and importantly, their insights and lessons on Gen-Z Zoom meeting etiquette.
Dr. Meeta Kothare, Managing Director at the GSLI noted that she was “thrilled that EnerSys provided the students with a rich hands-on learning experience that will definitely give them an edge as they launch their careers."
Later this year, EnerSys aims to submit the group’s work to the CDP and shortly thereafter will receive a its first score. From there, EnerSys will continue in its ongoing efforts to power the future, making further progress on sustainability goals and supporting progress towards a global, sustainable net-zero emissions, deforestation-free and water secure future for us all.