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Autodesk Chief Sustainability Officer Joe Speicher: Five Things to Know

November 28, 2023 by Joe Panettieri

Autodesk has promoted VP Joe Speicher to become the software company's first chief sustainability officer.

Speicher's new role, publicly announced today, took effect in July 2023. He reports to CFO Debbie Clifford. Here are five things to know about Speicher and Autodesk's sustainability strategy.

1. Company Scope and Scale: Autodesk, founded in 1982, is based in San Francisco, California. The software company has more than 10,000 employees worldwide. Over 100 million people use Autodesk software like AutoCAD for design, business and environmental use cases.

2. Sustainability Milestones: In Autodesk's FY23 Impact Report, the company pointed to multiple sustainability milestones. A few examples include:

  • 100% renewable energy sourcing for facilities, cloud services, and employee work from home.
  • Hosted first Sustainability Leadership Summit with customers and partners at Autodesk University.
  • 2.4 million metric tons CO₂e of GHG emissions reduced by the Autodesk Foundation’s global efforts.

Naturally, Autodesk believes its own software can assist customers with sustainability challenges. By synchronizing data, insights, and automation through connected workflows, Autodesk's Design and Make Platforms can "reduce rework and waste generation and deliver more sustainable outcomes and fewer emissions," the company asserts.

3. Speicher's Responsibilities: Speicher oversees the development and implementation of Autodesk's sustainability and impact strategy, metrics and reporting, and cross-industry initiatives focused on sustainability capabilities for customers, the company said. He also continues to lead the Autodesk Foundation, a philanthropic organizatio, and he chairs Autodesk's ESG Steering Committee.

4. Speicher's Views on Sustainability, Data and AI: In a September 2023 interview with RBC Capital Markets, Speicher described sustainability as "a data problem. We believe that when you have the right tools, the right data, and a fully connected ecosystem - you have the power to transform both what is made and importantly, how it’s made.”

In that same September 2023 interview, Speeicher described AI as both a headwind and a tailwind – the tailwind being its ability to solve complex problems and deliver optimized solutions...The headwind is the energy consumption associated with large language models, and the frenzy of data center building that will need to happen to address the incredibly high demand associated with generative AI." He believes AI's benefits will outweigh the costs.

Debbie Clifford, CFO, Autodesk

5. Executive Perspectives: In a prepared statement about Speicher's role, Autodesk CFO Debbie Clifford said: "Appointing Joe as Autodesk's first chief sustainability officer reinforces our commitment to and action toward achieving our larger impact strategy and driving meaningful change in the industries we serve. Integrating sustainability within the finance organization enables us to fold this work into core business functions and direct resources to innovations that address the world's most pressing challenges."   

Concluded Speicher: "Autodesk sits at the junction of the most creative and impactful industries in the world. We have seen a dramatic shift in market dynamics favoring sustainable outcomes in the last few years–and Autodesk is leading the way. We are building a platform for democratizing access to complex technologies and data for industries that are carbon-intensive—because we believe this is our best opportunity to help address the implications of climate change."  

Autodesk and Sustainability: Why Technology Partners Should Care

By 2027, 25% of Global 2000 companies will have assigned a chief sustainability officer (CSO) responsible for meeting their organization’s ESG goals and making ESG-related IT purchasing decisions, according to IDC.

The bottom line: Technology partners need to extend their sales, marketing, engagement and support strategies to successfully fulfill those CSO customer needs, Sustainable Tech Partner believes.

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