Karina Hilton Spiegel graduated in 2012 from Duke with a dual degree MBA (with a focus in Strategy and Energy & Environment) and Master’s of Environmental Management (with a focus in Environmental Economics & Policy). Growing up, Karina has always been passionate about making a difference in the environment. After graduation, she began working as the Manager of Sustainability Programs for Carnival Corporation, coordinating the design, development, and implementation of corporate sustainability strategies and programs. Karina is transforming her company through sustainability one step at a time.
We ask Karina to share her thoughts about her journey.
How did you first become interested in energy/environmental issues?
Having grown up in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, I believe I was brought up more environmentally conscious and was incorporating this throughout my personal life. While working in banking in Miami, Florida, I purchased a hybrid car and became a board member of a non-profit called Dream in Green. However, I desired to incorporate my personal passions into my career, which is why I decided to pursue the dual degree MBA and Master’s of Environmental Management at Duke.
What’s your favorite part about working for Carnival Corporation?
Given that it is a global company, I get to work with people all over the world in the office and remotely. I also have the opportunity to learn many aspects of the company, as sustainability touches on all departments. Most people who have heard of sustainability only relate it to the environment, so I enjoy educating people on sustainability, what it means, and why it’s important.
What challenges do you face as part of your role?
When working on sustainability programs, it is important to get buy-in from all players, which can be challenging given that we are a global company with brands in various countries. Each brand has its own structure, leadership and culture. It can be difficult to coordinate across departments, brands and countries. Having various working groups with advocates is essential.
What was the most interesting project you have worked on at Carnival Corporation?
What interests me most is the big picture of sustainability and how we can make a difference as a company, so developing our 2020 Sustainability Goals has definitely been the most interesting project we have completed thus far. Our main goal is our carbon goal, which focuses on reducing our emissions by 25% by 2020 compared to our 2005 baseline. Our other goals include improvements in air quality, a 5% reduction in our waste rate, and a 5% improvement in our water efficiency. With the development of our 2020 Sustainability Goals, we transitioned from producing purely informative sustainability reports to proactively implementing sustainability practices into our risk evaluation process and business model. It also represented a significant step toward aligning brand and corporate initiatives — environment, people, and community — within each of the sustainability key areas.
What exciting sustainability projects will you be implementing in the future?
We are now on the next step of our sustainability journey and developing our sustainability strategy beyond 2020; it doesn’t stop there. We are constantly evolving as an organization in our sustainability journey. It’s really exciting to see the sustainability programs in action, and we have actually achieved our carbon goal three years ahead of schedule. We have the opportunity to design an effective sustainability strategy that we will embed within our overall company strategy and philosophy, thus helping steer the company towards a sustainable future beyond 2020.
Drawing from your own experience, do you have any advice for current MBAs interested in sustainability?
My advice would be to have and demonstrate passion for sustainability, both professionally and personally. To pursue a career in sustainability, you will frequently need to educate others on sustainability and create buy-in. Without a strong passion, this could become discouraging. Also, beyond academics and professional experience, working on people skills is a must. You will need to work with a variety of departments from operations to PR and marketing and employees from entry level to C-Suite.