Betting on the future
It doesn’t take 20 years of experience to have an impact on a company’s sustainability efforts. Maggie Layden is proof of that. Six months after graduating, Maggie is changing the world one vegetable peel at a time. She’s the project leader for the American Family Insurance initiative, “Our Dream of a Zero Waste Future.” By diverting the corporate cafeteria’s pre-consumer food waste from landfills, she’s helping the Fortune 500 insurance company move closer to its goal of a zero waste future. Maggie earned her University of Wisconsin online Sustainable Management degree in 2012.
With a strong focus on the intersection between people, planet, and profit, the online UW Sustainable Management degree provides foundational knowledge for making changes in the workplace. Students learn to take a systems approach to solutions, analyzing whole systems in order to create lasting change.
Like many universities, the UW Sustainable Management bachelor’s and master’s curriculum require Capstone projects to give students a hands-on opportunity to apply what they’ve learned to a real company. Past UW Capstone projects have included looking at energy efficiency and renewable energy on dairy farms to developing a sustainability scorecard for a health and beauty product manufacturer. Maggie’s zero waste initiative formed the basis for her American Family Capstone project which ultimately evolved into a full-time career.
Already a leader in sustainability, American Family has made significant strides to drastically reduce its water usage by 20 percent. The company is on track to reduce its energy use by 15 percent by 2016.
The company’s zero waste project grew out of a desire to recycle organic waste. According to Maggie’s supervisor Dan Rosetta, facility operations director, “it wasn’t long before we realized that in addition to adding organics recycling, we needed to revisit the existing recycling program at American Family.”