Think Global, Act Local: Meet the Bay Hero Shaping the Future of Sustainability at Salesforce

Photo credit: Rick Lewis
“I think climate change is the biggest, most important and most complex challenge humans have ever faced.” It’s a challenge Patrick Flynn isn’t afraid to face, and as the vice president of sustainability at Salesforce, he is poised to make an ample difference. “I feel fortunate to be alive at a time when finding solutions to climate change is at the forefront of the [environmental] conversation.” Patrick’s specialty? Turning a bold vision into tangible change. “In corporate sustainability, we are doing things that just five or ten years ago were dreams.” Indeed, Patrick has helped Salesforce reach staggering goals in the realm of sustainability. Under his watch, the company achieved net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and began providing a carbon neutral cloud for customers. Recently, he pushed to establish a blackwater recycling system at the new Salesforce Tower that’s set to save 30,000 gallons of fresh water every day.With each sustainability project, Patrick sees a chance to keep the Bay Area clean and beautiful for his two young children. “Every chance we get, we are outside near the water – the ocean, the bay, rivers, even crossing a majestic bridge over a stream.” But he wants future generations to enjoy these awe-inspiring moments, too. “I didn’t grow up in a place with this sort of epic natural beauty, and I want to show them all of it and ensure they can show their children and so on for years to come.” Like Save The Bay, Patrick truly believes simple steps can create meaningful change for the environment. He recommends people start by “reducing single-use plastics, purchasing certified sustainable seafood, and turning off the lights when they leave a room.” Then comes a little communication. “Sharing those habits with family and friends creates a ripple effect that makes those small initiatives incredibly impactful.” On a company level, Patrick also feels strongly about the power of employee green teams. From organizing volunteering opportunities to hosting educational events, these groups can “ensure everyone is aware of the small steps they can take to live and work more sustainably.” Despite the massive scale of his sustainability campaigns at Salesforce, Patrick always keeps this message in mind: “think global; act local.” In his view, “there are opportunities to solve environmental challenges all around, and if you start in the areas that you know best, then you can take that solution and share it globally.” Working in the wetlands with Save The Bay taught him just how rewarding it is to spark change in your community. “I volunteered two years in a row on Earth Day at the same Bay Area site. During the second year, I saw the progress made throughout the previous 365 days and was immediately proud to have had a chance to make a difference.” Save The Bay’s community-based approach truly strikes a chord with Patrick. When it comes to fighting climate change, he believes collaboration is a crucial piece of the puzzle: “solve, innovate, and share.” ***Save The Bay is inspired by Patrick’s work in sustainability. Ahead of our Bay Day celebration, we are proud to recognize him as a Bay Hero at this year’s Catamaran Sail on September 29.