Q&A ALLYSON MITCHELL
Allyson Mitchell President
Sustainable Catalyst Partners LLC
Can you tell us a little about the history of Sustainable Catalyst Partners LLC? SCP was created in late 2012 by Allyson Mitchell, in partnership with the law firm Drewry Simmons Vornehm (DSV). Allyson and her partners at DSV met during Allyson’s employment at the City of Indianapolis’ Office of Sustainability, when she invited DSV to participate in a panel to help create green building incentives for the City. When Allyson left the City, she desired to leverage her network in sustainability-related fields to help other communities and organizations across Indiana understand sustainability and create sustainability plans. Allyson teamed up with DSV to create SCP, allowing her to unite her background in sustainability with an opportunity to reach a greater number of clients. Allyson is committed to educating her clients on the principles of sustainability and helping them articulate and achieve their longterm sustainability goals. She believes every budget can benefit from a comprehensive sustainability plan and created SCP with a vision of spreading the seeds of sustainability widely across her home state of Indiana. How does SCP define sustainability? SCP defines sustainability as a way of being, rather than a finite event or action. It is not just a concept, but a practice that informs every goal, policy, and behavior. It is iterative and ongoing by its nature, as sustainability is never ‘done.’ Organizations often fall into the trap of thinking that sustainability is a far-off destination that requires too much effort to achieve. But because sustainability is a way of being, it meets you right where 10 | SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MAGAZINE
you are today and guides you to where you want to be in the future. It requires a willingness to learn, to try new ideas, and a commitment to long-term positive results. Often, organizations think they can achieve sustainability and then go back to business as usual. However, striving for sustainability means having an attitude of continual adjustment and improvement. The pace of change in business requires leaders to contemplate future challenges and if-then scenarios, and to calculate responses that capture opportunities for growth, investment, and/or specialization. The principles of sustainability guide the direction of these responses to include a transparent assessment of their impacts on the environment, the economy, and society. Sustainability cannot be seen as doing business “good enough” and must be seen as proving that business can always do better. Therefore, sustainability in concept is an awareness of the impacts our choices make on the world around and outside of us. But sustainability in practice is taking steps to improve the outcomes generated by our actions – today and everyday. How does SCP help clients operate more sustainably? SCP believes that organizations first must understand what sustainability means to their particular organization, and how the principles of sustainability apply to their operations. We create an opportunity early in the relationship for SCP to understand the organization’s unique history, structure, leadership, and industry position. Simultaneously, SCP helps the client understand how sustainability practices can be applied to their organization, and the potential benefits and challenges they may encounter in the process.