Around the Water Cooler With Nestle Waters Chairman

Want to boost employee collaboration? Kim Jeffery says you just have to install a water cooler.

Want to boost employee collaboration? Kim Jeffery says you just have to install a water cooler
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The first thing we did was brought in a consultant who helped us map our carbon intensity throughout our supply chain. As an example, the bottle represents 55 percent of our carbon footprint. As a company that produces as much as we do, we have a very light carbon footprint because we don't have a lot of ingredients that go into our products that are carbon intensive. So if you attack an item that's 55 percent of your carbon footprint and determine that you're going to improve it, you can make a huge impact on the total impact of your company.

And then we started attacking the most important ones from a carbon standpoint and the items we could do something about. Since that time, we've tackled renewable energy, we use 100 percent recyclable content in our cardboard, and we've reduced our water usage, our energy usage and our raw material usage in plastic too.

Your company advocates for recycling, but if an employee cares about recycling and his or her workplace doesn't, what can the employee do?

This is [about] leadership. It starts at the top of the company, and it's very hard to change a company from in the middle or in the bottom. You've got to have an awareness by the people who lead these companies of what's important, what your employees care about, and your consumers care about, and make sure that you're addressing those issues.

So on the face of it, it's probably very hard for an employee to start their own recycling program inside a company that doesn't care about this stuff. In our company, if we're doing something wrong, we want our employees to talk to us about it so that we can take action on things that are important to our employees and to our consumers.

[Read: Top 16 Pieces of Career Advice.]

What is the best career advice you've ever received?

It came from my father actually: "Decide what you really like to do and build on it. Find something that you have a passion for." I've heard people say, "I want to make a lot of money. I want to get rich." But the way to get rich is not to think about what can I do to get rich. It's to find a passion, and if you find a passion and you really do well at it, chances are you're going to do just fine in your career.

The other thing is people do extremely well when they have one tool in their kit: a strong moral compass. I really believe people with a strong sense of moral values are going to make the right decisions in their life and in their company.

Every single day in society we see red lights, green lights and yellow lights in front of us. And we pretty much know what to do when there's a green light, but there's an awful lot of yellow lights and red lights that people don't pay attention to that get us in trouble. So a strong moral compass is really one of the most important things you can have as a young person starting out your career. If you don't have it, think about getting it.

Editor's Note: Around the Water Cooler is an ongoing series, in which U.S. News talks with company executives to get their career advice for employees and managers.