October 6, 2022

Faculty Spotlight: Adam Gordon

Faculty Spotlight: Adam Gordon

By Emily Tenaglia
|August 25, 2022

Adam Gordon

Adam Gordon, Assistant Professor in Columbia University’s Sustainability Management Program. He will teach ESG-aligned corporate governance in spring 2023.

Adam Roy Gordon is currently an assistant professor at Columbia University Sustainability management program. He is Director of the United Nations Global Compact Network of the United States, the United States Network of the Secretary-General’s Corporate Sustainability Initiative, where he was a founding staff member of the organization. He is a noted public speaker on corporate sustainability issues, a contributor to The Atlantic, and named an Environment + Energy Leader 100.

Previously, Gordon worked at CDP, advocating for the integration of climate change, water and deforestation disclosure into corporate performance. He was a Climate Fellow at the Environmental Defense Fund at Colgate-Palmolive and has diverse experience in sustainability, ranging from advising the government of Montenegro on green building policy to establishing New York’s first composting waste hauler.

He holds a BA from Oberlin College, an MS in Sustainability Management from Columbia University, and is currently enrolled in the Leadership Development Program at Harvard Business School.

What initially led you to pursue the field of sustainability?

There is nothing more important to save the planet and humanity. I started working with farmers because I believe that nothing connects us to the land like soil. Working with farmers has taught me to value effective business models for sustainability and this has inspired my work to incorporate sustainability into core business operations.

What attracted you to Columbia’s School of Climate and School of Professional Studies?

I am proud to be a graduate of the master’s course in sustainability management. My time as a student at Columbia was very important to my professional and personal development. The opportunity to teach in this program is deeply satisfying.

What course will you teach and what excites you most about it?

I will be teaching ESG-aligned corporate governance in the spring of 2023. I am excited about this course because it will allow me to share my experience working with corporate leadership with the next generation of leaders. Aligning corporate governance with sustainability principles is often overlooked, but is key to unlocking the potential of sustainability across organizations.

What changes do you hope to see in the future in the field of sustainability?

We are experiencing a very dynamic time for the field of sustainability. With new regulations, investor interest and best practices are evolving. Finally, I hope to see this field become the focus of the company’s strategy. It is not enough for a company to create a sustainable product or service or to produce a report for stakeholders. While sustainability metrics are important, we need to focus more on integrating sustainability as a whole into the core strategies of all companies to achieve the world we want to see.

What advice do you have for students looking for a career in sustainability?

Sustainability is about navigating the silos of different companies and different contexts. The task of a sustainability professional is to be a translator between different communities to highlight and influence the connections between them. Focus on interrelationships and your ability to effectively navigate between departments to create new solutions.


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