Patrick Callery moved his family from the sunny life in Santa Barbara, California to the chilling winters in Ottawa, to join the Sprott School of Business family as Assistant Professor in Strategic Management. It was an adjustment, he admits, having not experienced a frigid winter in over two decades, but it is here that he now calls home and where he is developing an extremely rich and pertinent research program—all in the name of saving the planet.
Callery’s research seeks to understand how companies can better position themselves for long-term financial success by providing solutions to environmental problems. He approaches this through two general research themes: corporate strategies and communications around managing risks related to climate change and carbon emissions, and new territory in green innovation to better understand what is necessary for environmentally focused businesses to succeed.
Callery comes to academia after a long and diverse career in industry where he gained invaluable experience and knowledge that has driven him to dedicate his career to research that will contribute to the mitigation of our most pressing global environmental issues. After completing his BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering, he worked five years for Hewlett-Packard in various roles in project management and engineering. During and after the “dot-com” boom and bust of the early 2000s, he worked for a small start-up telecom hardware technology company. It was an exciting place to be because he was able to take on a variety of critical roles within the company and gain exposure to management and strategy, and a more holistic view of running a successful business.
Motivated by this experience, Callery earned his MBA in Strategy while concurrently working in equities research in the investment banking industry. However, he felt a bit disillusioned by his role in the world and wanted to do more—he wanted to help businesses move from being the cause of environmental problems to becoming part of the solution. He pursued work for companies in the renewable energy sector, but it was during the financial crisis in the United States in 2008 and many of the businesses just could not survive. As the saying goes: “When life throws you a curve ball, hit it out of the park.” And, that is exactly what Callery did. He recognized the value of all his knowledge from years of industry experience and realized the best way for him to make a difference was to go back to academia where he could contribute as an educator and researcher. So, after 15 years in industry and several degrees, Callery began his next journey—as a dedicated academic, earning his PhD.
Callery has developed his research program to help save the planet, one project at a time. He seeks to understand how companies develop and implement effective strategies around environmental issues related to climate change. Climate change and the associated effects on our planet and society have never been more real, as is the urgency for humans to act now to mitigate the damage. Major corporations face increasing pressures from investors and other stakeholders to act on climate change and other environmental issues lest face significant financial and social implications. Those firms that choose not to act are confronted with regulatory risk, as well as reputation risk—and this is where Callery is highly motivated. His research focuses on understanding company strategies for opportunity and risk management, as well as stakeholder impression management, with the dual aims of helping companies recognize the financial benefits of proactively addressing climate change and helping policy makers devise better regulatory and voluntary programs to reduce industry greenhouse gas emissions.
As the famous Muppet sorrowfully sang, “It’s not easy being green,” the world of business has similarly had a tough time unifying environmentally friendly priorities with its economics. Callery sees that there may be an effective way to navigate this arena and is developing a new research program in green innovation. Motivated by his own experience in the telecom industry, this area of research springboards off his knowledge of advanced core technologies in the solar industry. Callery often uses this analogy:
“During the gold rush it’s a good time to be in the pick and shovel business.” (Mark Twain)
Callery recognizes that there is another way for businesses in the renewable energy industry to be successful. He aims to prove companies that develop innovative business models that improve market uptake are more likely to find success than companies competing to develop the best core technology. Callery is passionate about supporting the system that fosters environmental innovations, looking beyond technologies and seeing how society can interact with these innovations and technologies. “It takes more than just the technologies; it takes innovative market solutions to help them reach their full potential.”
Callery’s life and academic journey has taken many twists and turns, but he has navigated through it all with a desire to make the world a better place. Born and raised in the US and living and working in many states over the years, Callery has found new beginnings here in Ottawa. Ottawa may not have the steady California climate, but it sure has snow, and a fair share of mountains nearby, so at least Callery can pursue his love of skiing—and saving the planet, as a crusader, one pick and shovel at a time.
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