Carolyn Billetdeaux found her calling in corporate responsibility during her undergraduate studies at New York University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science with co-majors in management and organizational behavior and international business as well as a minor in Spanish language and literature.
After graduation, she accepted an unpaid internship working in the Office of Sustainability at Inova Health System in the Washington, D.C., area before joining the company full time.
"It was incredible to be in an entry-level position and have the chance to build a sustainability communications plan, manage an employee engagement program, write a sustainability report — and a cookbook! — speak at conferences, write case studies for published books and participate in the launch of a national initiative for the greening of health care," Billetdeaux said in her Women Breaking the Mold survey. "It was a dream job."
But Billetdeaux felt she outgrew her dream job and was being pulled toward something larger.
After some traveling and odd jobs, she applied to an international MBA program at IE Business School in Spain. She was accepted to the program and spent a year consulting for Stericycle on health care waste management before moving to Europe.
Billetdeaux joined Amcor in Ann Arbor, Mich., as the global sustainability manager in April 2018.
"My first big job was to write Amcor's GRI [Global Reporting Initiative] Sustainability Report, which definitely encouraged some rapid assimilation. I am now working on implementing a global responsible procurement initiative to better track and manage supply chain risk," she said. "I'm also working on streamlining our global communications around sustainability to ensure all Amcor team members have access to the right information to help further our commitment to the environment."
Her first job in the plastics industry is at Amcor, and Billetdeaux said she is drawn to it because plastics are "so ubiquitous and also so misunderstood."
"Material life cycles and trade-offs are hugely complex and technical, and the full story is rarely — if ever — told in a way nonindustry people can understand. I saw a great opportunity to help work on these communication issues through the sustainability lens and provide a more balance voice on plastics," she said.
Billetdeaux said the best advice she has received came from her mother, who said, "Make yourself indispensible."
"I love working on the in-house sustainability team of a global company. It's great to be able to take ownership of a project and see it through from beginning to end and to work with and learn from such diverse people," she said. "I'd love to continue to grow in this role and end up at the helm of such a program."