Getting to Know Persefoni: Meet Chris Helscher
1. And you may ask yourself, "Well... how did I get here?" (Tell us your journey?)
I grew up in Cincinnati, OH. I spent half my time with my mom and step-dad and the other half with my dad and step-mom. Even though I started out as an only child, I ended up with three step siblings. Growing up, I took up soccer, cooking, and music (somewhere there are embarrassing pictures – and recordings – of my high school band). Most of my time growing up was spent playing hockey though. I started when I was about ten and played in competitive travel leagues until I left for college.
I did my undergrad at Clarkson University in upstate New York, graduating with a degree in Business & Technology Management. After graduating I took a job at Alternative Press Magazine in Cleveland, OH, ultimately spending four years doing sponsorship sales and managing the subscriptions department, meeting my future wife in the process. Fun job? Absolutely. Fulfilling career? Not really. So, off I went to grad school to get a sustainability-focused MBA at Case Western Reserve University, and set myself up for a more fulfilling, impactful future.
The next few years brought a lot of movement working in different sectors, roles, and locations: Consulting. Health care. Spirits.
Organizational development. Market research. Product development.
Toledo. Ann Arbor. Louisville.
Throughout these moves, I gained a lot of valuable experiences, but at a certain point I realized that I had strayed pretty far from sustainability, so I started working to get back to it. Shortly after, I took a job with a boutique ESG consulting firm called BrownFlynn and got myself right back to Cleveland. A few months after BrownFlynn was acquired by ERM, a global sustainability consultancy, where I ultimately spent five years as a sustainability strategy and disclosure consultant. In that time, I heard and helped solve problems for dozens of clients. Something that was increasingly evident over that time was that technology solutions were needed in this space and once they came, they would fundamentally change how this work is done. I wanted to be part of that shift, and that led me to Persefoni.
2. And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. (What do you do at Persefoni?)
My title is Director, Corporate Sustainability, but I don’t think that means much on its own. What I actually do is work on our internal sustainability programs, including managing our corporate footprint, and guide our overall ESG strategy and reporting plans. I also work closely with our strategic market engagement team to collaborate with our industry association partners on topics like climate strategy and policy and GHG accounting. I’m particularly proud of our recent announcement that we are signatories of The Climate Pledge and The Carbon Call and looking forward to spending more time making sure we’re meeting our obligations to those commitments.
3. And you may ask yourself, "Where does that highway go to?" (What are your hopes for your time at Persefoni?)
During my time consulting on sustainability, it was becoming increasingly apparent that companies needed to adopt technology solutions to make their ESG programs more efficient and focus more on driving impact. I think the work we’re doing at Persefoni is leading that charge. My hope is that we can serve as an example for driving carbon impact, use our partnerships to help educate companies about how technology can help them spend more time on impact rather than just measurement, and ultimately help lead the charge of implementing tech solutions in this space.
4. And you may say to yourself, "My God! What have I done?" (Why is Persefoni a great home for you?)
I mentioned earlier that I reset my career at a certain point to focus on sustainability. That was both to do something more fulfilling and something more impactful. Persefoni does both of those things while being driven by an incredible mission, set of values, and operating principles. In my role, I’m fortunate enough to work on our own carbon footprint and engage with hundreds if not thousands of other companies to educate and inform how to think about their carbon and climate impact. The fact that I can do that from my home office (with my dogs!) and work with Persefonites located around the world is a bonus!
5. And you may find yourself in another part of the world... (Tell us about your life/hobbies away from work?)
Hockey is in my blood. While my “competitive” career stopped after high school, my “beer league” career lives on. My wife and I have our own personal zoo of two cats – Stuart and Scout – and three dogs – Pony, Artie, and Forrest – that fill our lives with joy everyday.
When we can pull away from the pets, we love to travel. We’ve found ourselves in national parks recently – Acadia, Olympic, Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest to name a few. We’ve been to Paris, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica over the years. We’re looking forward to rescheduling a COVID-delayed trip to Ireland as soon as we can, but next up, you’ll find us at the Sundance Film Festival in January. It’s a bucket list experience for us.
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“Once in a Lifetime" is a series of articles designed to help our customers and partners learn more about Persefoni's truly passionate team. We're not just building award-winning software ... together, we're helping to decarbonize our planet.