A Senior Consultant in the Houston office, Michael came to Oliver Wyman with experience from the Environmental Defense Fund in London as well as Bechtel and BP in Houston. His interests and expertise surround energy production and transmission, electrification, transportation, carbon markets and regulation, and decarbonization more broadly.
Michael quickly became involved in sustainability work at Oliver Wyman. Recently, he has been focused on the development of the firm’s Climate and Sustainability firm-wide commercial platform. He has also helped to develop Energy Transition and Decarbonization intellectual capital for the Energy practice, and is a leader of the firm’s own commitment to carbon neutrality.
Companies should prioritize sustainability both because it is fundamental and because it makes business sense. Without sustainable practices and efforts to mitigate climate change, all other challenges businesses (and society) face will become even more acute. Sustainable practices also increase competitive advantage.
A series of passion projects sparked Michael’s initial interest in sustainability. In high school, he volunteered gathering recycling from classrooms, which, at the time in Houston, was an uncommon practice. At Rice University, Michael worked with Engineers Without Borders to improve water access in Nicaragua and co-founded the Rice Environmental Society. He then went on to achieve his Master’s degree in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Bristol on a Fulbright award.
I was and am drawn to sustainability for a couple reasons: first, the climate crisis is fundamental. If we cannot solve it, we exacerbate every other issue we face as humanity – poverty, hunger, racial and gender inequality, and on. Second, I have always disliked inefficiencies and waste – perfectly green lawns in the desert, urban sprawl, idling engines.
In the time that Michael has been working in the sustainability space, he has already seen his efforts shift. While he used to have to make the case more strongly, giving the “why” of sustainability, he finds that companies are generally more motivated to become more sustainable. With this shift, his work has shifted to the “how.” “Once the ambition is clear, the challenge becomes more technical, economic, and relational,” he says. “How does a company transition to net-zero, how do they pay for it, what assets or products do they need to walk away from, and who are the stakeholders they need to bring along with them? This work is challenging, but very collaborative and rewarding.”
The biggest personal challenge I face in my work is stepping back and seeing just how small my own efforts feel, when society at-large has not gone far enough, fast enough to deal with the climate crisis. But little victories, or big victories that feel little on a global scale, still keep me going and keep me optimistic.
Though he admits he’s not perfect in his approach to sustainability, Michael actively mitigates his own environmental impact – biking whenever he can, opting for vegetarian food when possible, and gardening with native plants.