Meet the Honorees: Nick Martin, Senior Director of ESG, Post Holdings

Nick Martin

by | May 3, 2022

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Nick MartinThe Environment+Energy Leader honoree program is an annual list that recognizes the environment and energy “doers” who break trail in creating new solutions, programs, platforms, best practices and products to help their companies – or other companies – achieve greater success in commercial and industrial environment and energy management. Meet the Honorees… is an ongoing series that will feature one E+E Honoree from 2022 each week. See the complete list of 2022 Honorees here.

Meet Nick Martin, senior director of ESG with Post Holdings, Inc. Nick recently joined the company in a diverse role which engages nearly every function across the organization. As head of the company’s ESG program, Nick considers and recommends goals, policies, practices and disclosures that align with its strategy. The role includes facilitating its ESG Steering Committee and ESG Operations Council and engaging executive leadership on ESG matters that could affect the company’s businesses, operations, performance or reputation. Prior to joining Post, (and when he was recognized as an Environment+Energy Leader Honoree), Nick had dual positions as ESG Advisory Services Practice Leader at Antea Group and the Executive Director of the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER). He served both organizations and a diverse range of leading corporate sustainability clients for over 15 years. Prior to that, he worked for a non-profit and for a government agency in Washington, DC, supporting public-private partnerships related to social and environmental matters.

Can you tell us about your biggest ESG challenge and how you’re addressing it?

Nick Martin: The biggest challenge is trying to effectively prioritize the broad range of ESG topics and evolving expectations relevant to a consumer-packaged goods company. While we consider the relative importance of all topics to the communities where we operate and to society at large, we also must evaluate the business value of our associated actions as part of our promise to our employees, investors, customers, and consumers. To evaluate business value, we must consider if proposed actions will avoid costs or risks, drive operational efficiencies and profitability, and/or grow revenue. The challenge is two-fold. First, all commonly considered ESG topics are important topics, without question. But as I have said for many years, every topic can be important, but not every topic can be a priority. To be a successful in this space requires making strategic decisions in terms of where and when to invest time and resources.

Secondly, Post has a unique business model as a holding company compared to traditional consumer-packaged goods companies. While we have some centralized and shared functions, our businesses have autonomous management teams, drive their own strategies for growth, and tailor ESG and sustainability efforts to match their unique brands, products, and stakeholders. Therefore, we must consider multiple perspectives on what ESG topics are most material to Post and to our individual businesses. This exciting challenge and opportunity is why I accepted the role, as I love systems-thinking and dot-connecting!

Can you share a successful collaboration that you’ve been a part of? Do you have any tips that would help colleagues at other companies who are contemplating similar collaborations?

NM: I was a founding facilitator in 2006 and served as executive director for several years at the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER). BIER is a pre-competitive platform of global beverage companies focused on environmental sustainability with a mission to be the leader in sector collaboration. I believe now more than ever that companies should consider leveraging the opportunities to collaborate, share, and learn from one another across the ESG space, including with proximate peers and competitors.

First, the issues we all face are much larger and more complex than one organization can resolve sustainably. Secondly, there are a lot of connections that are ripe for efficiency such as common suppliers, markets, and operating geographies. Lastly, it can be inspiring to engage with peers that share many of the same joys, challenges, and occasional frustrations. I strongly encourage colleagues to seek out such opportunities through formal mechanism, like BIER, and informally through direct connections.

What trends do you expect to see in the market in the next few years? What challenges will the industry face and how will organizations overcome them?

NM: This is always a fun question as there are many fascinating trends within the ESG and sustainability space. The top three I would say are first the transition to a low carbon future. I believe this one is here to stay and successful companies will need to figure out how to balance parallel strategies of reducing their own emissions footprint and at the same time adapting to climate-related variabilities with weather and policy across operating geographies. Second, I believe we will see a continued trend towards assurance expectations of quantitative data and qualitative information by investors, customers, and consumers. Lastly, I’m hopeful that we will find a more appropriate balance between the effort required for meeting corporate ESG disclosure expectations versus time and resources companies are able to devote to strategy and actions. There is a lot of excitement around the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) and their commitment to streamlining the ESG disclosure space, so this will be an interesting space to watch!

Do you have a favorite hobby or book that you’ve read recently that has had an impact on you and your work?

NM: I just finished “Dry,” by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman. Anyone that has worked with me knows that I have a deep passion for water stewardship. There is a lot written about water scarcity and the various hotspots around the world, but very little brings it to life for the average person that has never truly seen or felt what it is like to not have access to safe water or sanitation. This fictional book presents a scenario around a “Tap-Out” occurring in Southern California and the chaos that ensues in relatively short order. The tagline on the back cover reads, “Everyone is going to remember where they were when the taps went dry.” While the book is written to be suspenseful and maintain your attention, it is also written in a way to not feel at all far-fetched, especially for someone like myself who has worked in the space for many years. Hopefully, this is the type of storytelling that engages a much broader audience to at least pause and consider that extra drop of water they are using in their daily lives.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

NM: Just a sincere thank you for being included within the Environment+Energy Leader 100 Honorees. While I do what I do because of the positive impacts and advancement of the sustainability field, it is always nice to be externally recognized and validated occasionally. Thanks to the team at Environment+Energy Leader and congrats to my fellow honorees.

Twitter: @ESG_Martin

Editor’s note: nominations are now open for this year’s E+E Honorees. Nominate a colleague — or yourself — for the 2022 E+E Honorees today.


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