Brad Smith is a respected American business leader currently serving as the president of Microsoft. He has been working at Microsoft since 1993 and started his career as a corporate affairs attorney posted to the company’s offices in Europe. Over the year, this veteran business executive has risen through the ranks, serving as Microsoft’s general counsel at one point before landing his current position.
As Microsoft’s president, his roles include overseeing more than 1500 staff in 54 countries and operations in over 120 jurisdictions. Among his big areas of focus is guiding its policies on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, human rights, immigration, philanthropy, and environmental sustainability. It’s in environmental sustainability that he seems to be putting the most effort.
Recently, Brad Smith announced that Microsoft was launching an initiative to undo the emissions it has made since its founding and some more. He pointed out that the company’s goal was to be carbon negative by 2030 and remove all its emissions and some more from the environment by 2050. Following this announcement, he did an interview where he discussed this ambitious plan in detail.
Step 1: Getting the right team together
During this interview, the Microsoft president acknowledges that the plans he announced were very ambitious. This is why the first step he took was getting the right team together to spearhead its accomplishment. He brought experts like Lucas Joppa and Darryl Willis into the team. Lucas is Microsoft’s chief environmental officer, while Willis spent some time as its vice president of energy. The latter is an accomplished geophysicist and previously worked for BP for over 28 years and also Google.
Step 2: Identifying the source of the problem
Brad Smith revealed that thanks to Darryl Willis’s expertise, the team was able to identify the true extent of the challenge ahead of them by uncovering the source of the problem. The top three culprits for emissions globally are China, followed by the United States, and in third place is data centers. Microsoft has one of the biggest data centers globally, making up for quite a significant chunk of emission. Data centers are such big emitters because they need a lot of energy to run. Nearly all of these energy needs are met by non-renewable energy sources like coal. Microsoft’s president worked closely with Willis to develop a plan to make sure that all of the company’s data centers are using clean energy by 2025.
Step 3: Engaging partners
The celebrated business leader said that it realized the team that achieving carbon neutrality would not mean much if Microsoft was the only company doing so. Therefore, they choose to engage with their business partners to find a way to work together to gain an even more significant impact. This is how the team found out that this approach could help it achieve carbon negativity. Brad Smith said that among the partners that Microsoft has engaged are Alaska Airlines, BP, Shell, Northern Lights, and SEE Airtricity. Each of the partners will be having its own carbon neutrality goals to achieve. For instance, petroleum conglomerates will also be investing in renewable energy like solar energy generation and storage.