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Q&A with Environmental Policy and Management Student Casey Stock

Casey Stock is an Environmental Policy and Management student and sustainability professional, working as the Manager of Sustainability at DaVita Kidney Care. Her goal? Make DaVita the “Greenest Healthcare Community the World Has Ever Seen.”

This past April, Casey participated in the Daniels College of Business Career Services Sustainability Industry Panel and shared her experiences as a sustainability professional.We asked Casey about her experience and advice for working in the sustainability field and as a student at University College.

How was that experience for you?
I loved speaking on the DU Sustainability panel! The students asked great questions, and it was great to speak alongside other sustainability professionals. I would encourage DU to have more events for students that are trying to understand the field itself and how to get into it.

How did you start working in sustainability? What inspired you?
I initially went into my undergraduate degree as a math major. I attended Dickinson College, a small liberal arts school in Pennsylvania. As a liberal arts college, it is a requirement to take classes in other departments, and I found myself in the front row of Professor Wingert’s Environmental Science class during my sophomore year. It just clicked that I could choose a path that not only was I passionate about, but I could make a difference in. I then studied abroad in England, studying at Norwich University’s climate change center, and also did a week long field study to Iceland to learn about renewable energy. Sustainability quickly became embedded into not only curriculum but also how I looked at the world to solve problems.

What influenced you to get your master’s degree?
After graduating, I spent close to four years as an environmental scientist at Rocky Flats in Colorado. It was an amazing experience, but I always felt like something was missing. I found the position at DaVita and fell in love with the culture and the company. DaVita naturally grows their teammates, and after a few short months there, I knew I needed something more. I wanted to continue to learn and ensure that I was an expert in my field and position. I spoke to one of the company leaders while looking at graduate programs and he urged me to look into a policy program, rather than an MBA program since I would get that experience at DaVita. 

What experiences in your graduate program have you been able to apply to your career?
I love that the EPM program focuses on staying up to date on current issues within sustainability, but also the trajectory of issues. Furthermore, I have enjoyed that the program brings together individuals across all different companies and careers, which has been one of the largest opportunities for learning. It is important to see problems and context from other people’s perspectives because that is what prepares you best for the working environment. Additionally, I have enjoyed many of the projects, as many of them have overlapped with my current role, specifically green building design.

How have your past positions prepared you for your current role?
My role with the Department of Energy (DOE) provided me with context for how the government works. Additionally, I had first-hand understanding of CERCLA and environmental science as it applies to local projects, such as Rocky Flats.

After my role within the DOE, I knew that I wanted to work for a company that had the capability and drive to make a difference. DaVita had created a program manager of sustainability position to do just that. For my first three years at DaVita, I had the opportunity of creating and shaping key sustainability programs from education, waste diversion, green building, energy reduction and supply chain management.

How is DaVita achieving the goal of becoming “Greenest Healthcare Community the World Has Ever Seen”?  What is DaVita doing to meet their sustainability goals?
We are on a path to do this with our 2020 environmental goals, which entails water, energy, carbon, paper and waste reduction, as well as green building design and supply chain management. My team works collaboratively with a network of teams to drive the progress towards these goals, from those in facilities management to IT to procurement. Additionally, we have a network of 1500 Green Champions across our global company that collaborates with my team to implement sustainability initiatives at their dialysis center and or business office. What I can say is that these goals, in addition to the sustainability achievements that DaVita has accomplished, would not be possible without the support of all of our 70,000 teammates.

What advice would you have for someone trying to break into the field?
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have found a career that I am also personally passionate about as well. It is a rare integration, and many spend their lives looking for it. That being said, I would encourage students to find their niche that they are passionate about, whether it is renewable energy, green building, social and environmental justice issues… the list goes on. Become an expert in your niche. Life is too short to do something that you’re not passionate about. Also, volunteer and network. There are so many opportunities to become involved and learn from others in the field. Informational interview and attend conferences (Greenbuild is one of my favorites).

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