Digital Business

Putting ESG “Front and Center”: How Enterprises are Reducing Carbon Footprint via Cloud Transformation

Jul 06, 2021
Zscaler Virtual CXO Summit

The second in the Zscaler summer series of CXO Summit events began with a panel session of CXO leaders sharing their insight into the environmental, social, and governance impacts of secure digital transformation. In the Americas session, I moderated a panel that included Bill Choi, Zscaler SVP of Investor Relations and Strategic Finance; J.P. Saini, Chief Digital and Technology Officer at Sunbelt Rentals; and Les Ottolenghi, former EVP and CIO of Caesars Entertainment. In the Europe session, Zscaler Director of Transformation Strategy Tony Fergusson spoke with Bill and also Christoph Heidler, former CIO of SGS; and Thomas Vavra, Manager of Communication Networks at Mondi Group.

In case you missed the live sessions last week, the recordings are available here: Americas/EMEA 

Here are some of the key takeaways from the two discussions.

Responsible business is about creating value for society, not exploiting it.

Bill Choi commented on the changing relationship between corporations and society at large. 

“There was a time when corporations were only responsible for generating maximum profits for shareholders,” noted Choi. “And that's really no longer the case. The societal values are changing. In 2019, Business Roundtable, which is the largest association of CEOs of the largest global companies, came out and [made] this declaration that the company, the corporations should be run for the benefit of all stakeholders. That includes customers, employees, communities, and shareholders.”

Companies that prioritize ESG initiatives outperform those that don’t.

When he was with Caesars Entertainment, former CIO Les Ottolenghi commissioned research that showed that companies that emphasized environmental, social, and governance (ESG) efforts did better than organizations without explicit ESG targets. 

“One [finding] was that from an innovation point of view,” noted Ottolenghi, “a company that took into account ESG...saw a doubling of their return on investment in technology." Similarly, said Ottolenghi, companies that embraced diversity, equity, and inclusion missions saw better performance from their employees.

It’s time to put ESG “front and center.”

J.P. Saini oversees technology for Sunbelt Rentals, an industry leader in equipment leasing. For Saini, environmental, social, and governance ideals are part of the company’s DNA.

“We're leading with ESG,” explains Saini, who notes that the Sunbelt line of business embraces sustainability ideals. “We truly believe 'rental' -- the industry we are in...rental of equipment, everything from hand tools to large earth-moving machinery -- is essential to environmental progress.”

Reducing hardware reduces carbon footprint.

For Thomas Vavra, Manager of Communication Networks at paper-producer Mondi Group, operational sustainability and an unwavering commitment to the environment are simply costs of doing business in an industry dependent on renewable resources.

“At Mondi, the big sites are always located in forests or around forests,” said Vavra. “You've got to tend the forest that you own or operate very well. Otherwise you will have a huge paper machine that will be of new use. You can't reinvent the forest once you've chopped it down!”

Vavra has overseen a big change in the way Mondi’s regional sites manage cybersecurity: They’ve all moved to the cloud, supplanting costly, energy-hogging hardware appliances.

“We got rid of the usual [hardware technology] bandwidth-limiting device, firewall, proxy server...all of this is no longer necessary once you migrate to Zscaler,” explained Vavra. “You save a lot on hardware, you save a lot on work hours, and you save a lot of electricity. [Y]ou can also scale down your air-conditioning. Basically, [at] some of our sites, the server room is nearly empty and only holds a file and print server.”

Zscaler is the catalyst to move all enterprise services to the cloud.

When he was CIO for European industrial testing firm SGS, Christoph Heidler led the organization’s security transformation. It was that initiative that drove broader cloud-services adoption within the company.

“"I've seen Zscaler really more as the enabler to allow for a full cloud transition,” said Heidler. “We moved the servers. We moved a lot of applications to native SaaS. Not only when COVID hit us, but already before we had questioned, 'What does the corporate network now mean?'”

SGS employs auditors and testers across customer sites, and Heidler recognized that connectivity from uncontrolled networks and devices would have to be authorized based on the person and not the originating system or network.

“For the long-term, I said 'I can't trust the network, and I can't trust the corporate device',” said Heidler. “Therefore I've seen Zscaler as an enabler of a consistent security policy and strategy that's more linked to the identity of the person than to the identity of the device.”

About the Zscaler CXO Summit Summer 2021 Series

The new cyber-threat era is complex, accelerated, and unrelenting. It demands leaders who can prioritize agility over complexity, security over complacency, and innovation over stagnation. Achieving those enterprise objectives requires perseverance, collaboration, and secure digital transformation. The Zscaler Virtual CXO Summit brings together industry-leading CIOs, CTOs, CDOs, and CISOs to share insights, expertise, and experience. The Summer 2021 Series focuses on the theme “The New Enterprise CXO Priorities: Secure Cloud Workloads, Optimize Performance, Preserve the Environment.”

  • Watch episode #1, “Reducing the Risk and Complexity of Secure Cloud Deployment” - Americas/EMEA
  • Watch episode #2, “Reducing the IT Carbon Footprint: The Case for Green Security” - Americas/EMEA 

The Zscaler CXO Summit series continues July 21st (Americas region) and July 22nd (International) with Episode 3, “Productivity, Efficiency, and Speed: Why Digital Experience Matters.” Learn more and register at