Beverage leverage – An Interview With Kim Marotta of MillerCoors

[NOTE TO OUR READERS: This post will be retained indefinitely in its enirety in the ‘Interviews’ page]

MillerCoors_GBGR logo_jpg(smaller)

Profile of Kim Marotta:  As Director of Sustainability at MillerCoors, Kim is responsible for driving, implementing and managing MillerCoors sustainability strategy and responsibility initiatives. Kim works closely with the company’s parent organizations, SABMiller plc and Molson Coors Brewing Company, to drive performance in these key areas. In 2012, Molson Coors was recognized as Dow Jones Sustainability Index world beverage sector leader, for which MillerCoors was a strong contributor.

Kim was featured in a recent PMNetwork magazine article.  We caught up with her recently to get a little more detail about the connection between sustainability and our discipline of project management – not just the obvious green projects that MillerCoors was undertaking, but more holistically how sustainability is integrated at her company.

Kim Marotta Headshot (smaller)

Kim Marotta, Director of Sustainability for MillerCoors


1. EARTHPM: Kim, you’re quoted as saying “It’s important to us and to our growers that we don’t jeopardize our quality or yield for sustainability. We learned that we can grow both at the same time”. This quote aligns exactly with EarthPM’s assertion that ‘doing the right thing helps the project team do things right’. Do you see this as a recurring theme at MillerCoors – where sustainability is not a constraint but sometimes an avenue for continued or improved success?

Ms. Marotta: In the last five to ten years, we’ve witnessed a dramatic change in how companies and their employees view sustainability. While it used to be viewed as a box they had to check, today sustainability is much more engrained within companies’ DNA. Businesses are discovering that sustainability can help improve their day-to-day routines and make their operations more efficient overall.
For companies considering integrating sustainability into their operations, it’s critical to pilot initiatives first and make adjustments along the way before expanding. At MillerCoors, we started small. When we began exploring how we could make our barley growing operations more sustainable, we piloted new irrigation techniques to save water. With nearly 90 percent of the water we use coming from within our agricultural supply chain, we’re constantly looking for ways to grow barley with less water. We thought we could save hundreds of gallons of water per minute by turning off pivot end guns – the sprinkler nozzles at the end of the water arms – in the barley field. We were unsure what the results would be. Would we still be able to produce the high-quality barley our products require? How would it affect barley yields? We tested the idea by turning the end guns off on only two pivots at our Showcase Barley Farm in Idaho. We soon recognized positive results and expanded the idea to more pivots. To date, we’ve saved nearly 430 million gallons of water on that barley farm while still producing the high quality barley that characterizes our beers.

2.  EARTHPM: Your story being featured in PMNetwork is a huge step in getting exposure to project managers – in particular – about CSR and sustainability projects. What steps have you taken to engage your project managers overseeing “regular” projects in terms of sustainability?

Ms. Marotta: We are lucky to have an employee base that’s engaged and passionate about brewing beer in a sustainable way. We empower our employees, regardless of role or title, to activate initiatives or programs that could have a positive impact on our business. All of us – from the brewery floor technician to those in the board room – play a key role in sustainability at MillerCoors.
We’ve found that an effective way to engage employees are to get them directly involved the process. Annually we measure employee opinions, including views on our sustainability goals, opportunities to learn and grow, etc.

3. EARTHPM: How well-deployed amongst your day-to-day project managers is your Environmental Stewardship message? Does the Sustainability Improvement Team (SIT) and FEWER (Fuel, Energy, Water, Emissions Reduction) Team mentioned on your company’s web page interface with your PMO (Program Management Office)?

Ms.Marotta: Our SIT and FEWER teams serve as project managers when water and energy reduction initiatives are implemented within our breweries, but we encourage all of our employees, regardless of role, to keep sustainability top of mind during day-to-day responsibilities.
One great example of an employee-led sustainability success is our landfill-free achievement at six of our eight major breweries. When MillerCoors was formed just over six years ago, we set a goal to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfills by 50 percent by increasing our reuse and recycling activities. One of our production specialists at the Trenton Brewery thought that we could do better and recycle even more. He took it upon himself to write up a business plan to make our Trenton Brewery the first landfill-free brewery at MillerCoors, which was accomplished in just 23 months.

4. EARTHPM:  We note that your tracking of business metrics has helped MillerCoors establish a persuasive business case to increase CSR efforts. How have the project managers been using this business case in chartering projects?
Ms. Marotta: At MillerCoors, we have a series of business goals we’re actively working toward, and each of our employees is empowered to help us achieve those goals by brainstorming new ideas for process changes and technology innovations. Typically, we will implement a project idea if the project ladders up to our business goals and has the potential to benefit the company in the long-term.
For example, in our Milwaukee Brewery we installed a pasteurizer water reclaim system to reduce water use in the brewing process. That project helped us achieve our goal to reduce our water use by 15 percent, saving tens of millions of gallons of water annually. The savings were so great that a similar system has been implemented at five of our other breweries.

5. EARTHPM:  We applaud your work with the Nature Conservancy in Idaho. Are there more broadly-based collaborations with environmental groups planned?

Ms. Marotta: We firmly believe that collaboration is the key to long-term success, and we are constantly looking for ways to bring in new partners for their insights and knowledge. In 2010, we conducted watershed risk assessments near each of our eight major breweries. We identified three breweries – Fort Worth Brewery, Golden Brewery and Irwindale Brewery – that face water supply challenges.
Our Fort Worth Brewery depends on water from the Trinity River Basin, which supplies nearly 40 percent of the water throughout the state of Texas. To help ensure the area will have access to high-quality water in the future, we began collaborating with local ranchers and conservation groups in the area. We became a primary sponsor of the Sand County Foundation’s Water As A Crop™ program in 2010, which aims to help farmers implement conservation practices on private lands along the Trinity River. The project has since expanded and the Natural Resources Conversation Service (NRCS) is launching the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI). Through the NWQI, we’re working to implement the successful conservation practices we learned through the Water As A Crop program.

6. EARTHPM: Finally, does MillerCoors have an Environmental Purchasing Policy? Is it part of a larger Environmental Management Plan? How are corporate initiatives like these connected to project management practices for your general PM population?

Ms.Marotta: Our success depends on strong relationships with the people that supply our ingredients. We hold our suppliers to the same high standards we set for ourselves. We have a set of responsible sourcing principals that provide guidance to our suppliers, including business conduct, working conditions, diversity and various environmental issues.
Our employees come from different backgrounds, and it’s very important for us to maintain diversity within our supply chain as well. We have a specialized team dedicated to ensuring that diverse suppliers have a seat at the MillerCoors table. When opportunities arise to bring in an outside supplier, we tap our sourcing managers who use our supplier diversity management system (an internal tracking system) to find qualified woman- or minority-owned businesses that can be included in the RFP process. We also utilize the management system for recruiting qualified candidates in every aspect of our business.

EARTHPM: Thanks so much, Kim, for your great work over at MillerCoors and for taking the time to talk with us about your integration of PM and sustainability.


EarthPM is glad to bring you this in-depth interview and we look forward to talking again with Kim or with other leaders who are excelling in the integration of sustainability into their organizations, in particular their project management discipline.

Net Positive


What do you think of this goal:

…’to create a net positive impact on the environment by “putting more back in than we take out.”’…

Well, this is the Net Positive program of Kingfisher, plc.

If you haven’t heard of Kingfisher, it’s the third-largest DIY store chain after Home Depot and Lowe’s.  Kingfisher, based in London, has over 1,000 stores in 8 countries in Europe and Asia (but not [yet] North America).

If you have time, we suggest that you watch this webinar (1 hour-ish).

If you don’t have time, listen to the beginning at which the Kingfisher CEO talks about how this is NOT a sustainability program – but rather is sustainability integrated into the company’s business plan, day-to-day operations, and (importantly to us) part of their project culture.

It’s also about innovation – as we have increasingly seen (check our book or scores of our previous blog posts – here at EarthPM, and at our Projects@Work section) about that connection between innovation and sustainability).

Here’s a quote from the CEO of Kingfisher:

“We would never do anything without involving the mainstream business because they understand the market. When we have a new idea, we’ll develop it in tandem with the mainstream business. Then we’ll start with a small-scale experiment. We test, retest, change direction, reshape.”

Guess what that experiment is, folks.  It’s a project.   And the word project is prevalent in the descriptions coming from Kingfisher about the Net Positive effort.

Here’s a sample of the work Kingfisher has done:

“For example, a couple years ago we tested a strategy for selling energy-efficient products. In two stores in the U.K., we built a store-within-a-store that sold products like draft excluders and sleeves for insulating boilers. We tried that for six months, then realized we should shift to a service offering. Now, we assess customers’ homes and install energy-efficient upgrades, rather than just selling the products and letting them do the work themselves.

The new offering is in five stores. It’s a booth manned by two specially trained staff who can walk customers through a computer program that helps them assess the products they could use to upgrade their homes and the amount of money they could save. Customers can book a full assessment, and they can contract with us or another third party to have the work done. We’ll roll it out to 50 stores by the end of the year, and take the learnings from those stores to roll it out to the whole U.K.”

Again, rather than write much more about this, we draw your attention to the webinar which you can play at your own convenience.  To us, this looks like a good example of a company threading their ‘Purpose’ all the way to ‘Operations’, via portfolios of programs and projects.

Two new videos featuring PM leaders we admire


In our teaching and consulting we run across some folks who are outstanding in what they do – and we admire that. We’re lucky enough to have met these gentlemen and we can tell you that they know of what they speak!

Without much introduction, we’d like to point your attention to two videos today, one each from these folks.  The videos were only recently uploaded to YouTube.

The first is a great video simply introducing our field – project management – to the world.  Greg Balestrero, former PMI CEO and now (and we love this title) Strategic Advisor – Corporate Consciousness, Sustainability and Leadership at IIL (International Institute for Learning), is your host on a tour-de-force of PM’s history, present, and future.

The next is by an exuberant speaker  and PM expert Ricardo Vargas, from Brazil, author of 11 books on Project Management and creator of several very short but effective YouTube videos on diverse PM topics.  In this one, he takes you through the 5th Edition PMBOK(R) Guide in a unique and powerful way.



Boston: well-known home of the …. Redwood Tree?

This picture is not (yet) real. But… it could be… sorta… read on….


By now the events at the end of the Boston Marathon and the movie-like days following them are known by most of our audience.  As a New England based business we experienced this strange and horrifying week and now want to – and will – get back to everyday life.

Speaking of “to life’, a very interesting story popped up today on a National Public Radio (NPR) show called “Here and Now”, hosted by Boston’s own Robin Young.

The segment was about the cloning and planting of Redwood trees around the world.  You can learn more here from the show itself.

Regarding the trees themselves, the archives are the work of David Milarch, co-founder of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive in Michigan, and the subject of the book “The Man Who Planted Trees.”

The connection to Boston came at the very beginning of Young’s interview with Milarch.  Before he let Robin ask him any questions, he said that he wanted to donate three 3000 to 4000-year old tree clones, valued at tens of thousands of dollars each, to the City of Boston, to honor the victims and heroes of the event, and aid in the rejuvenation of Boston.  It is, as we say here, wicked awesome!

“We were told by most of the world’s scientists that this is impossible. Trying to ask a 2,000-year-old or 3,000-year-old tree to reproduce itself is akin to having a 110-year-old woman have a baby,” Milarch told Here & Now’s Robin Young.

Milarch didn’t believe the naysayers and kept trying.


A clone of a 3,000-year-old redwood tree, growing in a small jar. (David Milarch)

A clone of a 3,000-year-old redwood tree, growing in a small jar. (David Milarch)


“We had thousands of failures until finally we got the right combination,” he said.

Giant sequoias are among the fastest-growing trees on the planet, Milarch said, and absorb more carbon dioxide than other trees.

His goal, he said, is to help offset the excess carbon in the atmosphere and produce more oxygen by reforesting the planet.

In addition to the redwoods, the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive is cloning 70 other tree species.

Now you may recognize that our book has a tree on its cover.  So we are particularly fond of this story.  In fact, talk about a “green by definition” project!  This is clearly one.

Below is a radio player – you can actually listen to the (very short) piece (about a very tall subject) yourself.



Sony. No baloney. And no cadmium, either.



The cover of our book shows a tree.

The tree is yielding paper money rather than leaves.

It’s an image that is supposed to bring to mind the idea that caring for the planet and “doing good” will pay off.

We found a recent article on that summarizes this story for Sony of Japan.  It focuses on an aspect which gets a full Knowledge Area in PMI’s PMBOK(R) Guide – Procurement Management.  For an enterprise, this is called the supply chain.  For a project manager, it’s the result of a “buy” decision.

In the article, which we won’t duplicate here, since it’s short, well-written, and to the point, Sony discovers the benefits of a turnaround from a situation in which it lost many, many millions of dollars due to cadmium getting into their Playstation product, and therefore forcing a costly recall and investigation.  From this situation, Sony revamped its entire supply-chain management system, now attaining much better control not only over poisons but other aspects of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Sony found that the driving issues for improving supply-chain management from a CSR perspective were:

  1. Stakeholder interest.
  2. Leadership.
  3. Risk and cost management.
  4. Regulatory pressure and compliance.

If these seem like items that are of concern to project managers, you are absolutely correct.

We suggest you read the article.  Further, we know that a lot of our readers are IT professionals.  For that reason we also provide you a link to a free resource on this topic:
a report entitled “Sustainable Supply Chain Management in IT“.


Just a reminder, if you enjoy these posts, please follow us on Twitter.  We now have our sights set on 2000 followers by August.  Think we can do it?  You bet we can.  And that’s no baloney.