Williams-Sonoma - 2013

Svetlana Zenkin | University of California, Berkeley

  • Svetlana Zenkin during her fellowship at Williams-Sonoma
  • Svetlana Zenkin
Project Type: 
Energy Management / Strategy / Tools
Facility Type: 

Svetlana Zenkin helped create a cross-functional Energy Leadership Team (ELT), a group of over ten representatives from each of Williams-Sonoma, Inc.’s (WSI) major divisions: stores, corporate offices, distribution and logistics, call centers, IT and manufacturing facilities. The purpose of the ELT is to centralize the company’s energy management activities.

Zenkin analyzed energy audit reports for three of WSI’s corporate office buildings in San Francisco, CA. She worked with the corporate responsibility department to recommend over 15 energy efficiency projects that could save approximately $120,000 per year, which eventually could create a net value of $600,000. They could also help WSI avoid emitting 520 metric tons of carbon, comparable to taking 18,000 cars off the road.

To facilitate internal information sharing, Zenkin wrote a 15-page report that details the energy-related projects previously completed by several of WSI’s departments. This communication has been a challenge due to the company’s size, but it is essential to a successful energy strategy, and this report is a first step.


Q: What is one interesting fact about you?
I like to visit a new area of the world every summer. This summer after my fellowship is done, I’m traveling to Scandinavia: Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Q: Why did you apply for EDF Climate Corps?
I have followed EDF’s work for several years now, and had my eye on the EDF Climate Corps program even before I applied to graduate school due to my interests in energy and business sustainability. The program seemed like a robust training opportunity aligned with my goals and offered a large network of incredibly inspiring people. I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

Q: What is one thing you’ve learned this summer?
For a corporate sustainability professional, it is vital to secure champions throughout the company. Don’t assume who will and will not support your goals, and make your requests clear and specific.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from your supervisor?
Observe leaders in corporate sustainability to learn best practices and try to apply them to your daily functions.

Q: What has been the best part for you about working at Williams-Sonoma?
Even small accomplishments can have a dramatic impact on the organization. In addition, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning about the business and uncovering the hundreds of steps required to create the products and deliver them to the consumer.

Q: What is the mark you want to leave on the world?
I’d like to be known for helping other people get their jobs done and feel good about their lives. Many professions provide the opportunity to do so, but sustainability interests me more than many other careers.

Q: Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
“Don’t work on something just because you think it’s important to others or can make a significant impact. Work on what’s most interesting to you, on whatever is keeping you up at night.”