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Sustainable Nation

The Sustainable Nation Podcast delivers interviews with global leaders in sustainability and regenerative development three times a week. Our goal is to provide sustainability professionals, business leaders, academics and anyone interested in joining the sustainability revolution, with information and insights from the world's most inspiring change-makers.

May 25, 2021

As Senior Director of Brand, Reputation & Impact, Tabitha Upshaw leads NI’s global Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy, where purpose and social impact meet brand. 

A seasoned marketing and nonprofit leader, Tabitha has worked at the intersection of brand and corporate citizenship for more than 10 years, helping organizations use their strengths and innovative spirit to be a powerful force for good. 

Prior to NI, Tabitha was the first chief marketing officer of Global Wildlife Conservation. She also created and led Dell's corporate social responsibility (CSR) marketing function and did the same for SunPower. Pulling from these experiences, Tabitha built and led the development of NI’s first Corporate Impact strategy, a series of goals and commitments to realize a vision of a more sustainable and equitable world where diversity is embraced to drive innovation.  

Tabitha and her family volunteer with Generation SERVE, an organization focused on developing generations of community-minded leaders. She earned her bachelor’s at Texas Tech, her MBA from St. Edward's University and lives in Austin, Texas, with her two beloved children Meredith and William. When they are not at sports practices or games, her family enjoys camping and being in nature. 

Tabitha Joins Sustainable Nation to Discuss:

  • Transitioning into a career in CSR
  • The history of corporate impact at NI
  • NI's STEM education initiatives
  • Advice and recommendations for sustainability leaders

Tabitha's Final Five Question Responses:

What is one piece of advice you would give other sustainability professionals that might help them in their careers?

Speak the language of the business. Know what the different functions of your company really care about and how sustainability can help them achieve their goals. Know that the CMO and what they care about is going to be different than the CFO, as well as the general counsel. General counsel largely is reducing risk. Make sure you're able to to speak their language.

What are you most excited about right now in the world of corporate impact or sustainability?

Having most recently come from an environmental NGO that was focused on biodiversity and wildlife protection, I will say the overall growing awareness of the importance of biodiversity; it's a twin issue to climate change. Biodiversity is basically our planet's life support system. I get excited when I see more companies talk about what they are doing specifically about protecting ecosystems. CDP has added their forest risk disclosure to to their models; so really seeing things like that. This has been enabled by the SDG goals specifically, like life on land and in life in the oceans.

What is one book you would recommend sustainability professionals read?

Bill Gates new book: How to Avoid a Climate Disaster. Full transparency, I'm not all the way through yet. I'm on chapter three, I just got it last week. I love it. It's an easy read, it's very accessible, it's interesting. It's a candid look at what we're doing today, but it does offer optimism and solutions as well.

What are some of your favorite resources or tools that really help you in your work?

The tools are things like exercise, taking breaks. I recently got into meditation and mindfulness. It's things like that. I find exercise is really paramount to my overall mental health and wellbeing. If I'm taking care of my own mental health and my body, that means I can better be of value and service to other people, and I'm just better at my job.

Where can our listeners go to learn more about you and the work that you're leading at NI?

LinkedIn is the best place. I'm trying to be more active on, on LinkedIn, so do a search for me there.