Asia CSR Women Heroes: Rebecca Donnellan Got 11,000 People to Go Green Monday

In this new series, we celebrate the women who bring corporates to task from the inside, pushing for greater environmental and social forward policies. 

What is your full title and where do you work?

I’m Director of Sustainability at MGM China, the hospitality and entertainment resorts based in Macau (although I live in Hong Kong).*

What are your main job responsibilities?

I am responsible for our sustainability program, including everything from ideas generation, to implementation, to communication and engagement on the initiatives (both internally and externally). My core area of focus is on our “MGM Go Green” Program which revolves around five key pillars including: energy and water conservation, waste and recycling, green building, sustainable procurement and stakeholder engagement.

How did you get your start in CSR?

I studied Business at university so didn’t initially aim to work in a CSR role (in fact I wasn’t even aware this kind of role existed back then). I did my final year thesis on responsible investment and from that became convinced that the idea of investing in companies with a focus on people, profit and plant were better investments in the long run.

A gap year in Australia opened my eyes to the professional world of sustainability. As life goes, one thing lead to another and I ended up working for PwC’s Sustainability & Climate Change Team where I had the opportunity to work on consulting projects with many leading organizations in sustainability.

What is your proudest accomplishment/moment in your CSR role?

People are at the heart of sustainability change making, therefore inspiring hearts and minds to create fundamental behaviour change is the area I feel very passionately about as after all, it doesn’t matter how many LED lightbulbs you have for example, if people choose to leave them on all day.

The proudest feelings that I have felt during my time at MGM is creating a culture of genuine care and interest for sustainability, and from the bottom up rather than people being told to do it. This only works through interactive, authentic and continuous engagement. Through tactics such as creating Green Teams, holding fun and interactive events and closely collaborating with each department from Housekeeping to Facilities Management to Procurement to make it something actionable for them and that they can contribute to, we slowly have changed mindsets and made it something people want to be part of. I do not believe in just using posters and emails – we must co-create, collaborate and seek feedback and translate what our stakeholders tell us into real initiatives.

Something that has been very successful with our employees is Green Monday which is a weekly initiative where we engage employees in the importance of how our food choices contribute considerately to sustainability. Green Monday is about going plant-based one day a week and collectively that action can lead to big impact. In our employee canteen we now serve up a vegetarian menu to our 11,000 employees every Monday which has been creatively put together by our team of chefs with plant-based ingredients. Our employees really enjoy this as we make it fun with new themes and events to keep it fresh and relevant to them. The queues for Green Monday are normally the longest!

What is the hardest part of your job?

Truthfully, no matter how strong the moral reasons for action are, business is such that a business case is always important: businesses needs to know how sustainability links to the bottom line. And thankfully it does! But in the past so called “burning platforms” (e.g. regulation, cost incentive etc.) did not always present themselves, which made it difficult to justify initiatives. But luckily business drivers are strengthening in every sense and it certainly is becoming hard to ignore because the society of today expects the companies it works for and buys products and services from to be responsible.

Find out more about Rebecca and connect with her on Linkedin

*Editor’s Update: Rebecca is formerly of MGM Macau, currently exploring new sustainability opportunities.

As told so Sonalie Figueiras, Green Queen Editor-in-Chief.

Check out other interviews in this series:

Asia CSR Women Heroes: Ellie Tang of New World & K11 Concepts “I Feel Accomplished When I Convert Naysayers”

Asia CSR Women Heroes: Pat Dwyer of The Purpose Business “You Don’t Get Unless You Ask”


Lead image courtesy of Rebecca Donnellan.