Only One Week at PNC and Three Resources Strong

EDF Climate Corps fellow | June 23, 2011



By Amber M. Sprague, International MBA, IE Business School (Class of 2008), 2011 EDF Climate Corps Fellow at PNC Financial Services Group

With both the EDF Climate Corps training and my first week onsite with PNC Financial Services Group (PNC) behind me, there are three things that have stood out about my experience thus far: community, conversation and knowing the lingo.

1. The value of the being part of a larger fellowship group.

My task at PNC this summer is to identify and develop a company-wide energy awareness program that engages PNC's 51,000 employees to take action and help reduce the company's carbon footprint. And by the end of my second day, I couldn't wait to pick the brains of other Climate Corps fellows who are also working on employee engagement projects at their respective companies.

I posted a discussion thread on the Climate Corps fellows' online discussion forum and within hours, people were responding with both encouragement and resources. It was a great reminder that while I might be the only Climate Corps fellow at PNC, I am by no means alone. I'm excited to be able to tap into the "57 heads are better than 1" group this summer!

2. The usefulness of EDF Climate Corps' "On-Boarding Conversation" tool

Let me first explain the "On-Boarding Conversation" tool. It is 28 pages of questions for us EDF Climate Corps fellows to ask during our first weeks on the job, delving into everything from the companies' energy and carbon goals to mapping decision makers and understanding their financial measurements.

When I first perused this massive list of questions, I must admit I grimaced. "How on earth would I get through this list and how quickly would I become annoying as I pepper colleagues with this deluge of specific questions?," I thought. But I rapidly learned that this epic list of questions served two extremely useful purposes:

  • It became the perfect way to systematically gather the information I will need to develop project ideas during my fellowship, helping me to immediately understand areas where I could add value at PNC this summer.
  • The people I talked to were all very receptive to the thorough list of questions, and I was able to create valuable relationships with key employees from the get-go.

3. The power of knowing the meaning of a "foot-candle" (and other terms I learned in training)

Before starting my fellowship at PNC, I attended the training event hosted by Environmental Defense Fund specifically for this year's class of fellows. During the training, we were given a landslide of energy efficiency information and terminology and (thank goodness) a detailed handbook [PDF] for further review.

At the time, trying to soak in all the information was rather overwhelming. However, the payoff was amazing when I was able to discuss in-depth the lighting retrofits that PNC is already doing. Just to be able to ask pointed follow-up questions about how the company determined its new lighting specifications was a great feeling.

Granted, now that I know that PNC is already focused on its lighting and has done a comprehensive analysis of its options, it does mean that I will have to work harder to find other energy efficiency opportunities. But with a great handbook (and a mountain of additional materials from EDF's training), the in-depth and detailed information I gathered via the "On-Boarding Conversation" tool, and an amazing group of fellows on my side, I am looking forward to the challenge.

EDF Climate Corps matches trained students from leading business schools with companies to develop practical, actionable energy efficiency plans. Sign up to receive emails about EDF Climate Corps, including regular blog posts by our fellows. You can also visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this project.

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