September 19, 2018
By Tom Davidson
Dr. Chris Davidson is the Director of Corporate Sustainability for WestRock Company, based in Richmond, Virginia, where he is responsible for ensuring the company is a recognized global leader in sustainability. Chris has had a long and distinguished career in the forestry and forest products sector, starting out as a field forester. Prior to WestRock, he held positions of increasing responsibility with Nekoosa Packaging, Georgia Pacific, Champion International, International Paper and Meade Westvaco. His formal education includes a bachelor’s degree in forest management and a master’s degree in forestry, with a minor in statistics, from North Carolina State University. He also earned a doctorate in silviculture and ecology from Virginia Tech. Among his lessons and observations on this show, Chris offers some words of advice for young people of color who have faced racism in the past and what aspiring forestry and natural resources professionals can do to get introduced to the field earlier. In this episode, he says, “Don’t get discouraged when you run into hardships, and always stay true to yourself.” Listen to the entire interview now!
[:55] A message from Leadership Nature.
[1:35] A quick intro about Chris’s background.
[3:10] How did Chris get into forestry and natural resources?
[5:45] Did Chris have culture shock when he first came to the U.S. for an education?
[7:35] What kinds of jobs did Chris have while he was studying?
[10:40] What types of responsibilities does Chris have as the Director of Corporate Sustainability?
[13:10] What was Chris’s first job after school?
[16:40] Chris explains what his first leadership role was like.
[18:45] Chris offers advice for young professionals who have to prove their worth to their older coworkers.
[21:00] Good leaders continue to be lifelong learners.
[21:40] What is Chris most proud of?
[27:20] Chris credits his diverse career to an open mind and often saying ‘yes’ to new challenges.
[31:10] What has Chris’s experience been like as a professional and leader of color?
[34:00] If you change yourself to fit in, that’s not going to work for long. It’s not sustainable.
[34:45] What kind of challenges has Chris overcome?
[37:00] You are who you are, and you always just have to do your best.
[40:25] What can the profession do to become more diverse?
[48:15] Don’t get discouraged when you run into hardships! It is worth it to continue.
Mentioned in This Episode:
Chris on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christopher-b-davidson-8b550414/
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, by Atul Gawande
Internships at WestRock: https://goo.gl/LSVJ8c