“Profit is not the only measure of success”. Business rules of eco-activist and ex-CEO of Patagonia Rose Marcario
Once on a sultry day in 2002 in New York, the limousine of the successful Rose Marcario, then the CFO of a well-known investment company, got stuck in a traffic jam. She was in a hurry for a very important business meeting and did not want to be late.
Rose looked out the window and saw a not quite balanced person who staggered along the road and did not allow anyone to pass. The man was clearly mentally unhealthy, and he didn’t care about the horns bursting from the howling.
Rose Marcario was indignant: “What the hell is going on? Who is he ?!” At the same moment, she snatched her reflection in the glass of a nearby passing car. She looked at it and did not recognize herself – her face was tense, twisted, angry…
Rose asked the driver to drop her off at the nearest “island”. She silently left, wandered over to the first shop she came across in Central Park and sat down, lost in thought. “Was that how I imagined success? Does a confident, happy business woman really have to be like that?” questions knocked at the temples.
This moment became a turning point in her life. Rose Marcario suddenly thought that she would like to work in a completely different company, to solve problems in a different way – so that the work pleases not only the number of zeros in the checks. She wanted to change at all costs. And also change the world.
In five years, she will become the CFO of Patagonia, an American sportswear company – sustainable and open – and change it for the better. The case of Rose Marcario, in his book Questions are the Answer: A Breakthrough Approach Your Most Vexing Problems at Work and in Life, will be described by innovation guru Hal Gregersen. Using her example, he will emphasize that a correctly formulated question helps to look at the problem from the other side. And also find like-minded people and unite with them.
Having correctly formulated the question, Rose Marcario met the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, an experienced climber, participant in climate strikes, and an eco-activist. In 1986, he ordered his company to donate 1% of sales and 10% of profits to environmental activities, and since 1996 – to use only organic cotton.
Patagonia set the gold standard for responsible manufacturing, and Rose Marcario saw her calling in the development of the company. Working without classic offices, surfing for employees during working hours, philosophy of freedom, concern for wildlife and equality attracted her very much. Then, in Central Park, she received new motivation and directed her energy to new achievements.
After becoming CFO of the company, Rose Marcario said in an interview: “People think Patagonia is the kind of company that continues to ask itself deep questions about the quality of the supply chain, how it affects the world; which evaluates its business as a whole, and not only through the prism of profitability. Of course, profit is also important. If it were not so, then now you would not be talking to me. But profit is not the only measure of success”.
Rose and her associates at the company set out to revolutionize agriculture, challenge big-room bribery for the environment, and raise the bar for making products in the most responsible way. And they did it.
Under the guidance of Rose Marcario, the company continued and donated to environmental initiatives. For example, she launched an “eco-truck” on a trip to the United States – with the goal of selling used outdoor equipment, giving people the opportunity to fix it or exchange it.
Patagonia is a founding member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, a group of companies that reduce their environmental impact every year. Therefore, its headquarters in Ventura, California uses solar power.
In 2011, Patagonia launched a daring marketing campaign to avoid buying its products. The publication Don’t Buy This Jacket graced The New York Times. In the text, the manufacturer described in detail how much water and electricity is spent on the production of one thing, how much carbon dioxide and waste are emitted. By the way, sales of Patagonia after such a promotion increased by 30%. But it fulfilled its mission – consumers learned about an important problem.
Four years ago, the company made a splash when it announced that customers could return unwanted items they had previously purchased. They will be cleaned, refurbished and given new life to help the planet. Rose Marcario also had a hand in promoting used clothing on the Worn Wear website.
She stepped down as Chief Financial Officer of Patagonia, forever inscribing her name on the leaders of this century and leaving behind a financially strong company that has become a model for social and environmental activism. Rose Marcario has managed to lead the company with a more important goal than growth or profit. It was with her light hand that Patagonia brand consumers were able to feel part of the movement that is changing the planet for the better.