With the global, Delaware-based company since 1997—where she initially had neither budget nor staff—Rittenhouse has developed one of the most integrated and revered sustainability programs in the world. She is passionate about environmental conservation and has a deep understanding of the unique role women play in the effort. Here, she offers advice.
“Have a vision. You need one both for where you want to lead and for yourself personally. Over time it will almost certainly need to be tweaked, or even reset, but having your north star is important.”
“Walk the talk. You can’t be credible leading others if you don’t challenge yourself to do what you talk about—whether that is taking time for yourself to re-energize, or turning off the lights when you leave the office, or not printing documents unless it is necessary.”
“Sustainability is a long-term journey. I have been privileged to work under three CEOs who have led DuPont to where we are now. Especially in the business world where the planning horizon is at most a year, you have to be able to focus on changes over a much longer time period. Year to year it is often impossible to see progress, but over the 17 years I have been working on sustainability, we have achieved a lot. Two steps forward, one backward, does eventually get you someplace.”
“Love what you do. If you love your work and are committed to it, working on the challenges is interesting and rewarding.”
Who inspires her? “My mother. She started her career at a time when she was required to quit her job when she got married. Amazingly that didn’t deter her. Over my lifetime I have watched her take on and learn new things to give her access to new job opportunities—from accounting to computers.”