From the Trenches: Kristy O'Leary

Kristy O’Leary believes that it’s business that can save the world. Yes, you read that right.

Kristy is a Well consultant that has come and gone, and we’re always happy to have her back in our mix. She specializes in communications and impact design, and her passion lies in using business to solve the world’s most challenging problems. Or, in her words, “helping companies measure and communicate everything that doesn’t fit on a balance sheet.”

“I think people get a little scared when they think about being completely transparent. But it’s not painful – it’s exhilarating! Most companies are already doing good things, they just need to measure those activities and outcomes, then get really loud about them. A lot of the time, they don’t even realize the impact they have. It’s amazing. They’re amazing!”

When an organization hires Kristy, her job is to go in depth with what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, why they’re doing it and what it’s doing to the world around them – in a positive way. If she comes across a problem, then she comes up with solutions to help them be a little better every day. And then when she’s done, she helps the organization show their stakeholders all the wonderful things that they are.  From start to finish, her role is to help companies find new ways to create impact, make it seen and heard, and get them to make money while doing it.

Win, win, win.

Through her work and research, Kristy sees that the very nature of work is changing – perhaps in a good way. In the age of information, there’s no more room for sitting on the fence. Companies have started to realize that being honest and open is the future of marketing. “Brands are getting political and that’s a good thing. We have a lot of problems to solve, and there is a cost to sitting on the sidelines. Customers are ready to put their money where their mouth is, and buy based on their values and the change they want to see.”

“The current political atmosphere is tense. Brands are stepping up and reaping the rewards because people get to buy more often than they vote. The Trump announcement about the Paris Accord is a perfect example. Some of the biggest brands around the world are committing to surpass even The Accord’s emission reduction targets. Brands have had personhood for decades – now they’re getting civic.”

Kristy works with for-profit companies because she loves using the business and marketing world – an environment that people don’t typically think of as being champions for the environment or social causes – to activate people to create change. Her perspective is unique one, but may not be uncommon for long.

“We are proving that companies can get rich by doing the right thing – and soon it will be commonplace. Heroic Capitalism – this is the future of business in the age of things like Trump and climate change. The more that companies are doing good in the world, and the more that they show it, the more those companies can grow. And it’s just about being honest and authentic.”

Her most recent project involves Mayan farmers, transparency reporting, cacao and a supply chain company. Kristy is working on a revolutionary transparency report; revolutionary in that it is the first time a cacao company and commodity product has shared pricing transparency with the market. She recently returned from a trip to the jungles of Guatemala where she met with Mayan cacao farmers.

“There are so many ways to optimize, things to learn, stories to tell. My job takes me to exciting places. Sometimes around the world, sometimes just down the street. There is no lack of great companies.”

Kristy hasn’t always done this kind of work. She started out in advertising and owning an ad agency. That’s where she grew and developed her skills in figuring out ways to prove that companies are actually doing what they say they’re doing. And, figuring out the things they’re doing that they may not even know.

 “To steal a quote from Madeleine Shaw, of Lunapads, ‘I’m a pirate on the high seas of capitalism.’ Impact Design is the future of marketing, and I’m so lucky to be in this game.”

Although she loved the business world, Kristy still holds a fondness for consulting. She says that consulting allows her to do the work she loves while being the captain of her own life – she gets to decide what she’s doing, how she’s doing it, and when it gets done.

And she gets a lot done.

To learn more about Kristy, visit her profile here