Oral Histories

Bruce Harrison

Interview Segments on Topic: Challenges/Accomplishments

Bruce Harrison Biography

Bruce Harrison, author of Corporate Greening 2.0: Create and Communicate Your Company's Climate Change and Sustainability Strategies (2008) and Going Green: How to Communicate Your Company's Environmental Commitment (1993), has been called the pioneer of corporate greening.

Bruce has provided counsel on greening/sustainability matters to more than 50 Fortune 500 companies over the course of his career as vice president of Freeport-McMoran, CEO of his Washington-based consultancy, and founder/franchiser of EnviroComm International in the U.S. and Europe. He was the first executive director of the Arthur W. Page Society, comprising senior corporate communications executives, and has since 1998 worked as a team member creating Green Diesel Technology® products at Navistar International. Bruce assists companies in connecting with effective EnviroComm professional counselors.

Bruce is a frequent speaker on greening and sustainability. His lecture, "Factors Favoring Chief Communication Officers Involvement in Climate Change and Sustainability Issues", was recognized as the best paper presented by a practitioner at the 2008 Corporate Communication International conference at Wroxton College, England.

He was recognized by PRWeek in 2001 as one of the "Top 100 Most Influential PR People of the 20th Century" for his work with companies in environmental and social responsibility.


Ahern: Where do you see it heading? One of the discussions that’s going on is that the conversation about greening has become so wide spread that it might be losing its meaning, or it might have peaked in the sense that the bubble is burst. Do you think that the ethical imperative of being environmentally conscious is becoming more down, or is it going to continue to drive corporate actions in the years ahead?

Harrison: Just remember here that we aren’t just talking about environmental responsibility. We are talking about energy, which is an economic as well as an environmental area. And that energy, the cost of energy, the supply of energy, the form of energy, and then what we do with the materials of energy, where if it’s war on carbon, we’re trying to cut back on carbon how we capture, sequester, whatever, get rid of carbon that’s taken out of the atmosphere then all those costs and all that technology and all that political and international negotiation activity is going to impact what we do, what we do here.

Ahern: And as far as career what would you say are some of the accomplishments that you are most satisfied with?

Harrison: What are the accomplishments I am most satisfied with? I guess having survived this long. People ask me why are you writing another book? I said I want to stay alive, and to be able to do that, to write a book and get it out there, that’s a great accomplishment. I’ve done a couple of, three books. That feels good. I can see it on the shelf and it made me think. It made me keep learning. I think the biggest accomplishment is learning something new all the time in this business and in this life. It’s a constant learning process. You listen. You learn. You leverage what you learned into the next level of inquiry and performance. I’ve had there are specifics where the client has won and I feel like I have won, when Navistar, my client, International Truck and Engine Corporation, won as the first company to develop a low emission school bus, and got recognized by the Environmental Protection Association right here in Washington, and get the certification for that and have the EPA Administrator come out and say you guys did something we didn’t think could be done this quickly. Things like that feel really good or rewarding.

Ahern: And what would you say has been the biggest challenge that you faced during your career?

Harrison: Yeah, challenge, biggest challenge is, I associate challenge with change, getting out of my comfort zone, getting it to the next thing that I know nothing about or very little about. Those are challenges. Is that a bad thing? No it’s a good thing to learn more, but that’s where I always start feeling, “Will I be able to do this? Can I achieve here? Can I add value when I am not sure what that is?” Times like that I just go back to what I’ve learned. Lessons learned and see how they might be applied here. And again, the challenge of being quiet, and listening, and learning enough so I can be part of part of an outcome.