Spotlight On: John Keller

15 Sep 2014 | AT&T

Tagged: Planet,

So, my typical day is working on these renewable energy deals and looking at where we are and where we want to be with our deregulated portfolio. It’s kind of like your 401K or any retirement plan; you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Similarly, we don’t buy energy the same way every time either. Instead, we try to achieve a balance between competing goals of a low price and a stable price.

As a company, we need to take it upon ourselves to do things responsibly that help ourselves and help others – help our society – at the same time, so we all move forward together.

How does your role support AT&T’s efforts to improve environmental and social performance and impact?

The part of my job that supports improving environmental impact would be the deployment of renewable and alternative energy. Like so many other things that’s kind of morphed into a bit of broader perspective.

If you pull up to 30,000 feet and look at what’s happened in our country, businesses in corporate America get an “A” for their work, but we often don’t get very good press. What’s happened in my view is if you go back to 1973, we saw the first OPEC oil embargo and that was quite a shock to the country. We must now address how we use and source energy and be cognizant of its environmental impact.

Why do you think sustainability is important to business?

You will be more successful if your customers know you care about something more than profits. We’d like to think that at AT&T we’re taking a higher road. We’re not just corporate employees; we’re citizens of the world that we live and work in. We can be a profitable company that provides good services, but we can do it in socially responsible way, improving our environment and society at the same time. Those don’t have to be mutually exclusive goals. In fact, they combine together.

As a company, we need to take it upon ourselves to do things responsibly that help ourselves and help others – help our society – at the same time, so we all move forward together. Our alternative energy efforts are symbolic of that. We’re taking small steps. It’s a glacier, and we can only get so much done at a time. Our initiative with Bloom is looking over the horizon of where we can take this effort.

I also think Aspire speaks volumes about how AT&T thinks. Our high school dropout rate is a tragedy; it’s tragic for those kids, and it’s tragic for our country, so it’s an admirable, worthwhile effort to keep kids in school. On the other hand, it’s also serving us as a technology company. If 20% of high school students fail to graduate with their class, where do future employees come from? How will we populate our workforce and how will we meet our hiring needs? Aspire accomplishes both goals – addressing education shortfalls, while also creating a better landscape for our company in the future.

Tell us one fun fact about yourself.

I’m 62, so I’m still going to work a few years. I like my job and we’re doing good things. At this point, I’m taking a certain satisfaction that the last chapters of my career will be much better than the first chapters of my career.

My first chapters started in school, and I was expelled from kindergarten! How can you get expelled from kindergarten? If you’re curious, my mother was a single mom, who worked late, so I spent my days with my grandmother. My grandmother was a good old Irish girl with a vocabulary that would make a sailor blush. I don’t think the nuns were quite used to some of the things that I said.