Getting to know Persefoni: Meet Mike Wallace
1. And you may ask yourself, "Well... how did I get here?" (Tell us your journey?)
I entered the environmental field in 1993 due to, of all things, breast cancer. While I was in college at Miami University of Ohio, my aunt (my dad’s sister) was diagnosed and died of breast cancer. About a year later, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. They were the best of friends, and the glue of our family, so it was big on the wider family. When I graduated, a fellow Miami Alum offered me a job at a small environmental consulting firm in Columbus, Ohio to help me be closer to home. While it didn’t really seem related to my dual-majors in Employee Relations and Organizational Behavior, the job let me be closer to my family during those trying times.
Ironically, my job entailed mapping the known contaminated sites across Ohio by using a range of publicly available local, state, and federal databases. I was also learning about soil and groundwater contamination, carcinogens, human health exposure risks, health and safety issues and a variety of other terms that now permeate the sustainability field. The due diligence techniques I learned back in the 1990s live with me to this day and are engrained in every project I undertake. While it started off a bit rough, that period shaped who I am today and only made my interest in this work even more personal and important.
My career has taken me around the world twice, I’ve lived and worked in amazing places like Sydney and Perth, Australia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, New York and most recently, Portland, Oregon. I’ve worked for and with some of the leading non-profit organizations in the world, such as the Global Footprint Network, ICLEI, BSR, Healthcare Without Harm, Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the Global Reporting Initiative. I’ve also had the honor of working with many of the world’s leading corporations and investors on a range of sustainability and ESG issues. It’s been a great ride and my latest stage with Persefoni is already kicking off with even more excitement as we – and the field – become mainstream.
2. And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. (What do you do at Persefoni?)
“Strategic Market Engagement” is my title. More simply put, I connect the dots. Like any organization, professional fields of practice quickly create their own silos. Our field tends to break itself into camps, such as corporates, investors, and NGOs. I’ve worked across all of these camps and every industry due to my diverse experiences. This has led to an extensive understanding of the global marketplace, as well as how non-profits, multilateral organizations and government agencies are all an integral part of our collective success. With 30-years in this game, I see patterns and cycles and thrive on helping others see these, too. I also thrive on convincing the most challenging audiences as to the business and personal importance of sustainability. I work closely with our CSO, Tim Mohin, on a range of market facing initiatives, as well as internal strategic initiatives. I also have the honor of working with the prestigious Sustainability Advisory Board, as well as across Persefoni’s business functions. On a Monday I may be talking to a federal agency here or abroad; by Wednesday, I may be talking to a F500 company about their GHG disclosure challenges; by Friday I may be talking directly to the Value Reporting Foundation (VRF), the CDP, and/or the World Resources Institute (WRI).
3. And you may ask yourself, "Where does that highway go to?" (What are your hopes for your time at Persefoni?
My strength is helping others see their own role in the sustainability space. I thrive when I’m asked to speak to the toughest crowds, those that don’t see how sustainability, ESG or carbon accounting matters to their business. This is why I focus some of my time on very specific industry and professional associations. We don’t have time to change just one mind at a time. We need to scale and scale rapidly in our collective sustainability efforts. Industry and professional associations give us all a chance to reach thousands at a time.
I also enjoy meeting new people and exploring our common interests in business, and in life. I am amazed at the diversity of the Persefoni team and the fact that so many of them come from completely different backgrounds, yet their expertise is being focused into this incredibly timely and much needed software solution. I look forward to learning from all these amazing minds, while hopefully imparting some of my knowledge and connections with my new teammates. I’m also very excited to focus on the specifics of carbon accounting. For so many years I’ve worked to raise awareness about the broader suite of ESG issues. I’m looking forward to drilling down deep and hard on something that is quantifiable, is a significant environmental issue, but that also has social and governance implications for EVERY organization on this planet.
4. And you may say to yourself, "My God! What have I done?" (Why is Persefoni a great home for you?)
Persefoni has all the entrepreneurial benefits of a small start-up, as well as the feeling of bigger and greater things to come. The seasoned team of executives come from a range of large, global organizations, as well as many with start-up histories. The structure, culture and pace are all consistent with my own approaches to our work in this field, and the brain-power and speed of development is energizing and inspirational.
5. And you may find yourself in another part of the world... (Tell us about your life/hobbies away from work?)
I grew up in Akron, Ohio and looking back, the path of my life and career all makes sense now, but I would have never imagined the global experiences I would have because of this career. Coupled with living in and exploring some of the world’s best cities and natural wonders, this field and my career path have truly been a gift.
My love of travel, exploring, and experiences is shared with my wife, Clair. We met in San Francisco and were married at City Hall. Two days later we landed in Channai, India with our backpacks and a return flight out of New Delhi 30-days later. We spent the next month meandering across India, from it’s southern most tip, to its western most deserts. And that was just the first 30-days of our marriage. Since then we’ve lived, worked, and travelled to so many extraordinary places and look forward to much more. I’d be happy to tell you more when we get a chance to meet out at some sustainability event in the coming years.
Meet other Persefonites!
“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.