GreenBiz names Stanford Earth student “30 Under 30” leader
Stanford University
Tannis Thorlakson

GreenBiz names Stanford Earth student “30 Under 30” leader

This year’s GreenBiz “30 Under 30” award honors individuals from eight countries on four continents who represent the future of sustainability inside companies and institutions.

BY Danielle Torrent Tucker
ClockJune 08, 2018

Tannis Thorlakson, PhD ’18, has been named a 2018 GreenBiz “30 Under 30” leader, an honor for young leaders who demonstrate the world-changing promise of sustainability in their everyday work. Awardees are chosen by the GreenBiz Group and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development based on a global search for emerging leaders who are shaping the next generation of sustainable business.

Sustainable supply chains

Thorlakson’s research in Stanford Earth’s Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER) has focused on food retailer and manufacturers’ roles in improving the sustainability of their agricultural supply chains across the world. In June, she started a new role as an environmental lead for the U.S. and Canada at Driscoll's, the major California-based berry company.

“There's this huge potential to leverage company supply chains to drive sustainability,” Thorlakson said. “It's not the solution, but it's a solution that is important, considering the magnitude of challenges facing our globe.”

Global Work

Thorlakson pursued a PhD in Environment and Resources at Stanford to explore this complex issue globally. Her research included traveling to South Africa, where she worked with the farm suppliers of South African retail company Woolworths Holding Limited to understand how the company’s sustainability program impacted its management practices. In West Africa, she explored the chocolate supply chain, speaking with chocolate company representatives about why sustainability efforts launched in the early 2000s have continued to evolve to try to combat the extreme poverty and deforestation occurring there. 

E‑IPER is a unique program because it's super flexible and allowed me to really focus on the emerging topic of corporate supply chains, which over only the last 5 to 10 years has gotten a lot more play in the academic community.

Thorlakson also researched corporate commitments to zero-deforestation, and conducted a random sampling of about 450 food and apparel companies to see how many had implemented sustainability programs into their business strategies.

“I have always been passionate about agriculture because it intimately intertwines both social and environmental challenges,” Thorlakson said. “E‑IPER is a unique program because it's super flexible and allowed me to really focus on the emerging topic of corporate supply chains, which over only the last 5 to 10 years has gotten a lot more play in the academic community.”

Thorlakson’s doctoral research has also helped her understand how data science and analytics will play an increasingly important role in driving real sustainability impact in agricultural supply chains.

"I believe that business can do good, while still making a profit," Thorlakson said.

Media Contacts

Danielle Torrent Tucker

(650) 497-9541

dttucker@stanford.edu

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