Patricia Gallardo

Patricia Gallardo

29 June, 2012
Hospitality CSR guru
Director of CSR, Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts
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The hospitality industry can do, and has done, a lot of things to minimize impact on the environment; many hotel companies have been incorporating sustainable practices into their business models since long before sustainability was a buzzword. Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts stands out as a leader in this regard, with its newest hotels being built to LEED standards and features like herb gardens and solar panels being integrated into its resorts around the world. We were fortunate to spend some time chatting with a key driver of change, and the youngest Corporate Executive of this company, Patricia Gallardo. She spoke with us about her role as Director of CSR for the hotel group and about Shangri-La’s initiatives and programs.
 
Ecozine: How did you become interested in environmental issues?
 
Patricia: I volunteered in WWF activities as a child, and have worked with United Nations Development Programme projects. After my MA, having taken up Globalization and Governance and the role of NGOs in changing business practices, environment and resource management have really become both a challenge and an opportunity where I have found more and more spaces to make a difference.
 
Ecozine: What qualities or qualifications are required for a person serving in an executive CSR position at a large corporation such as Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts?
 
Patricia: You must be a game changer; be able to stay ideal and inspire change, but remain grounded in and with tradition and business model. One must always be willing to learn; stay constantly updated and challenge oneself – you have to prompt and pry, keep a look out for the best practices and see what you can integrate into the business. All this you have to do while understanding operations. I am not a hotelier, so I ensure that I spend time in the laundries and kitchens, speak to the engineers, visit the loading areas for fresh deliveries, read guest feedback forms and walk the floor with my hotel mentors, only then will I know what sustainable practice to push for- and how best to change, without shocking the system. You must be hungry for learning, and it also helps to be very, very passionate.
 
Ecozine: Tell us about working in a role as Director of CSR; what does a typical week in your life look like?
 
Patricia: It involves an ability to multi-task and diligently keep to your list of things to do. There are manic hours on Skype calls with all parts of the world, speaking to colleagues from various levels in the hotels; flights to and from different time zones, lots of decisions made on the Blackberry; at least 15 differently located local community partners spoken to or about on a regular basis; queuing email drafts over the weekend and catching up on backlog paperwork; CSR coaching sessions either face-to-face or online; lots of scouting ideas from my peers in and outside the industry; and it always begins with a good swim or meditation/yoga, and an extra-hot latte.
 
Ecozine: How has Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts been able to effectively roll out its CSR policies such that it touches every employee in the company?
 
Patricia: Our business is all about people; whatever we do starts and ends with people. We are grounded in the staff, promote employee volunteerism at all our locations, and we also aim to get everyone on the same level of CSR understanding through the group wide CSR module.
 
Ecozine: What are some of the key CSR, environmental or eco-friendly programs that are currently in place company-wide?
 
Patricia: Since 1993 our hotels have commenced getting certified with the ISO 14001. There are Environmental Management Systems in place in every hotel. We have a company Green Team as well. Through these programs, energy and water usage have decreased significantly. Our hotel bathroom amenities are eco-friendly with eco packaging, and we also offer eco-friendly food and beverages. Waste management includes recycling, and we also grow herb gardens through composting. Shark’s fin is already off the menu. We are also now building our properties to LEED standards. A company sustainability report is now available at http://www.shangri-la.com/en/corporate/aboutus/socialresponsibility/over...
 
Ecozine: Please share any planned initiatives Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is considering for the near future in the CSR space, particularly in regards to the environment.
 
Patricia: We are building green, with all new hotels aiming to achieve at least LEED Silver in second-tier cities and LEED Gold in capitals. We started CO2 footprinting with the help of Earth Check, and have set CO2 emission reduction targets across the board.
 
For more information on the CSR practices of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, visit http://www.shangri-la.com/en/corporate/aboutus/socialresponsibility/over...
 

By: Ecozine Staff
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