Basic Info

Marilyn Johnson
Contributor Status:
Initial Contribution Date:

Career Info

Primary Industry:
Innovation / Product Development, Technology
Personal Career Headline:
SDG Promoter | Chief Operations Officer, Brand VO2
Business Description (One-Liner):
The customer is king. Companies need to know what customers are thinking to adapt and respond and to inform strategy to remain competitive.  Brand VO2 helps companies make sense of the treasure trove of consumer feedback that is sitting out there online – easily and cost-effectively – from E-Commerce to Sustainability.
More Business Details:
Business Tools / Business to Business Services (B2B)

My AdVert

Career Snapshot:

With over 20 years leading global teams, and advancing sustainability in both large and small companies, I am vigorously focused on fostering a culture of sustainability and advancing the practice as a profession, that inspires decisions to advance a more responsible and sustainable world.

From working in large resource-based industries to small, startup tech companies, I’m always up for new and innovative challenges. I am dedicated to bringing Sustainable Development Goal language, progress, and engagement mainstream, by amplifying corporate SDG progress and innovation through the connection of corporate action with consumers.

I hold an MHSc from the University of Toronto, a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and in Physical and Health Education from Queen’s University. I am an ISSP-Certified Sustainability Professional and a CISR (Continuous Improvement for Social Responsibility) Certified Expert. I am a graduate of the Seattle University Executive Leadership Program, and the University of California, Irvine Sustainability Leadership program.

I am currently Chief Operations Officer at Brand VO2.  Additionally, I am partnered with the Sherpa Sustainability Institute on the co-author team putting together the SDG Corporate Guidebook Series to be launched in 2020.

AdMission Statement (AKA Personal Brand Pitch):

As an energetic and passionate ‘do-er’, my goal is to be a positive force in the world. As a seasoned sustainability professional, my mission is to help advance engagement in the sustainable development goals, so that everyone is a part of making the world a better place.

My AdVice

How did you get into the industry?:

With a lifetime focus on health and well-being, my studies included physical and health education, biology, health sciences and environmental health. From there, I found the field of Industrial Hygiene, where my first ‘career’ role, was in the Oil and Gas industry, doing field assessments evaluating and managing workplace exposures and the protection of employee and community health. From there it was a natural evolution into the broader field of Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability.

Emerging industry trends?:

Adoption and Action around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  A global common language and framework to truly change the world.  I’m encouraged to see the increased awareness and active adoption and commitment by organizations of all types and sizes.

Industry opportunities and challenges?:

Company commitments are amazing, yet they often aren’t always connecting with stakeholders and consumers as they could be. Most companies now publish information on their website, create incredible sustainability reports and share in many ways what they are doing related to many of the SDGs; however, consumers are still largely not aware of the great work being done.

The challenge – and opportunity – for companies is to effectively and authentically identify what they are doing to improve the world and to further communicate that to customers.  Companies must be creative and compelling, and use new and innovative ways to reach target audiences and to engage with consumers who are shopping and selecting based on values and purpose.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?:
It’s time to truly connect Corporate Commitments and Values with Consumers.   The SDGs provide the language. We provide the tool.
I see many companies doing amazing things that are advancing the SDGs. They are reporting out on that progress. However, they still aren’t sure if and how the SDG commitments and progress is resonating with their customers. That’s the inspiration for the SDG Pulse Report.
In today’s world, with so much unfiltered consumer feedback now available online, companies continue to sift through the best way to understand and respond. The SDG Pulse Report helps companies quickly, cost-effectively and easily better understand how their SDG progress is resonating and connecting with their stakeholders in a way that helps further progress, shape strategy and accelerate impact.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business? Greatest Accomplishment?:

We are talking with and welcome innovative, sustainably minded companies to work with us in advancing and accelerating SDG progress. By working with these forward thinking companies, we will continue to refine and define the language and lexicon of customers and other stakeholders as they view company commitments and performance in all areas of the Sustainable Development Goals. We aren’t looking to work in a silo and simply sell reports, but rather, we are looking to team up and in the spirit of SDG 17 and work in partnership to advance the goals.

How do you motivate others?:

Those who know me will often agree that one of my strengths is in inspiring others. I believe that to do this, there needs to be a genuine connection with a common purpose combined with a meaningful way to truly contribute to that purpose. It’s also super important to be authentically supportive and encouraging, and to bring out the light in others to truly let them shine. When you are shining – you are motivated 🙂

Career advice to those in your industry?:

Always be learning. While true in any field, in today’s rapidly evolving world, my experience in the field of Sustainability is that anything and everything is connected to it. As such, there is ALWAYS new information, new ideas and new ways to approach pressing and huge problems. Be ready to learn in many different ways – in the classroom, on-line, one on one, at conferences and events, and through self-study. Have fun with it and look for ways to connect the dots to change the world.

My AdVantage

What do you do best?:

I love to go for it. I’m willing to take risks, try new things and through doing that, I learn, grow and help to inspire others.

What makes you the best version of yourself?:

I am a very positive person, and can find the silver lining in most anything. Life is constantly throwing you curveballs, so be ready for them, and swing as they come. I’ve always believed that life is like a river, with times of calm, twists and turns, wild rapids and at times, big boulders -so – just keep on going and enjoy the ride!

What are your aspirations? (Personal and Business):

I aspire to make the most of every day, every experience and every interaction.  To live a life of both joy and purpose.  To have a positive impact, be a great role model and an inspiration for others.

Biggest Success?:

Completing my first (of 10) marathon! I told the whole world I was going to do it, and was so committed to my training plan, that I managed to qualify for Boston (which I ran twice).

Most Challenging Moment?:

In the late 1990s, while I was working in a great job, with an amazing team at Weyerhaeuser (at the time a company of 40,000), I had the opportunity to join an internet start-up company (as the 12th employee).  Recall, that this was during the ‘gold rush days’ of internet start ups.  It was a difficult decision:  Do I stay the course with something that is great, familiar and right in my wheelhouse? OR – Do I take a leap of faith, jump into the frenzy of the internet innovation and exit the safe and secure to give entrepreneurship a go?

I decided to choose the road less traveled and began my first adventure in a small, start-up environment.   And while it required sacrifices, it also offered many opportunities for growth, new learning, and fresh experiences.  I learned so much, in a short period of time and grew my business acumen immensely.  I believe that it was a personal experience that reinforced my belief in trying new things, stretching yourself and when necessary – to jump into the unknown.  To simplify – YOLO. Go for it. Have the experience rather than not.  Savor every moment, as it prepares you for the next jump, the next adventure, the next opportunity around the corner.


Carpe Diem!

Favorite People/Role Models?:

My mom Laurie was widowed at age 37 while raising three young girls. She showed us what true, unconditional love and determination mean. She gave us a stable, strong, loving home – teaching us that you can overcome anything and be successful. I believe I got my positive spirit and ‘can-do’ attitude from my mom.

Favorite Places/Destinations?:

I love to explore and try new things with friends and family, so my favorite destination is usually a new one each time. Be it a bustling international city, quiet beach vacation, exploring small towns, adventuring on the ski hill or somewhere in-between, I love it all.

Favorite Products/Objects?:

My Roomba. She works hard every day 🙂

Current Passions?:

I am an avid tennis player, and play on a number of teams every year – singles, doubles and mixed. I’m also very involved in the National Charity League, Inc., (NCL) as Co-President of our local Chapter. NCL is a mother-daughter organization focused on philanthropy, leadership and culture and has been an amazing way to have meaningful impact, connect with my daughter and our community and to get to know an amazing group of incredible women.

What Else To Know

My Goal of the Day:

Get it done.

My Thought of the Day:

Bring this day to a whole new level.

My Action of the Day:

Make an impact.

My Tip of the Day:

A dream doesn’t become a reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.

My Pic of the Day:
Tell Us More:

My Pic of the Day:

Traveling with my family, enjoying an evening sporting event. Perfect.

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

Tons of trees. Everything is close and convenient. Great shopping.

What drink do you need to get through the day?

I love my coffee. I drink a lot of coffee.

Most used Social Media Account?

Linked In. I’m on LI every day and have connected with some of the most amazing and interesting people.

What should everyone try at least once?

Skydiving. It’s scary and exhilarating all at once.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

I like to do Urban Float. So totally immersive, quiet and the only time there isn’t some type of noise or stimuli in my environment. It’s like transporting into another world.

What Else to Know?

Learn more about why I love the SDGs. It’s all about tapping into the unlimited potential of humans to save ourselves!

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