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NetApp Hires VMware Veteran Nicola Acutt as Chief Sustainability Officer: 5 Things to Know

July 1, 2024 by Joe Panettieri

Enterprise data storage and data management provider NetApp has hired VMware veteran Nicola Acutt (pictured above) as chief sustainability officer (CSO) and VP of ESG.

Here are five things to know about NetApp's business focus and sustainability strategy, and Acutt's expertise and experience.

1. Business Scope and Scale: NetApp, founded in 1992, is based in San Jose, California. The company's technology involves unified data storage that spans on-premises, hyrbrid and cloud-based systems. NetApp's revenue was $6.27 billion in fiscal 2024, essentially flat compared to fiscal year 2023. Net income was $986 million. The company has roughly 11,800 employees as of mid-2024.

2. Sustainability Initiatives and Milestones: During NetApp's fiscal year 2023, the company reduced Scope 1 and Scope 2 carbon emissions 31% compared to a fiscal year 2020 baseline. Longer term, NetApp by 2030 is seeking to reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by approximately 42%, and Scope 3 emissions by 50% (compared to 2020). And in fiscal year 2023, the company formed a Sustainability Innovation Group (SIG) to "help transform NetApp into a company that weaves sustainability into every aspect of our customer relationships, our product development, and our way of doing business." Those details and more surfaced in NetApp's 2023 ESG Report.

3. Product R&D and Related Services: NetApp in October 2023 announced block storage and Keystone storage-as-a-service to "drive simplicity, savings, security and sustainability for customers," the company said. NetApp mentioned sustainability 11 times in the storage announcement, but did not share any specific carbon footprint or energy efficiency data.

And in December 2023, the company announced the BlueXP Sustainability dashboard -- which provides "AIOps-enabled reporting and scoring with actionable insights to improve your sustainability posture."

4. NetApp's First Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) - Executive Experience: Nicola Acutt previously
was CSO and VP of environmental social governance at VMware, where she had worked since 2010. Unde Acutt's leadership, VMware's sustainability goal was to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions 50 percent by 2030, while pushing 75% of its suppliers (based on spend) to set their own science-based targets by 2025. Broadcom acquired VMware in November 2023, and we don't know if or how VMware's sustainability goals will now evolve.

Elizabeth O'Callahan, executive VP and chief legal officer, NetApp

In terms of her own experience, Acutt's LinkedIn profile states (in part): "Nicola is an experienced business leader with 20+ years driving impact at the intersection of business, technology, and sustainability. ... With expertise in environmental science, sustainability strategy, climate change, ESG reporting, and social innovation, her experience spans business, government, academia, and nonprofits."

5. Executive Perspectives: In a statement posted on LinkedIn, NetApp Executive VP and Chief Legal officer Elizabeth O'Callahan wrote: "I am excited to welcome Nicola Acutt, Ph.D., as our first Chief Sustainability Officer and Vice President of ESG. With a passion for leveraging innovation to create positive social and environmental impact, Nicola brings deep expertise in sustainability and ESG leadership in our industry. With Nicola’s leadership, we will further strengthen our ESG commitments, evolve sustainability in the data center, improve the impact of our operations, and help our customers turn disruption into opportunity."

Chief Sustainability Officers (CSOs): 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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