Brainstorm Green

10 Questions: Jenny Rushmore, director of responsible travel, TripAdvisor

February 25, 2014: 9:03 AM ET

On working on her master's thesis, traveling the world, and helping people make sustainable choices.

140225085809-jenny-rushmore-director-tripadvisor-620xa

FORTUNE -- Originally from the U.K., Jenny Rushmore grew up in a globe-trotting family. Though passionate about travel -- at 33, she has lived in nine different countries -- she has also made it her mission to help people live more sustainable lives. Previously, Rushmore led sustainability strategy and communications for Procter & Gamble (PG), a position that took her overseas to Switzerland and Greece for part of her time there.

Now, as director of responsible travel at TripAdvisor (TRIP), Rushmore designed and launched TripAdvisor GreenLeaders, which helps TripAdvisor's more than 260 million travelers plan greener trips by highlighting accommodations engaging in environmentally friendly practices. The program launched in April 2013 in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council, ENERGYSTAR, and the United Nations Environment Programme, and is now the largest green hotel program in the U.S. with nearly 4,000 participating properties across the country, including chains like Marriott (MAR), Hilton (HLT), and Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG), as well as small family-run B&Bs and inns.

Rushmore is based in Boston, where she is working on her master's degree in sustainability and environmental management from Harvard University. She spoke with Fortune.

1. What is the best advice you ever received?

The best advice I've received is to make it easy for people to do the right thing. Everyone's so busy these days that it's not surprising many of us don't stop to consider our environmental footprint in everything we do, every day. So, if you can create a way for users to effortlessly make a green choice, that can have the biggest impact -- and it's what we're trying to do with TripAdvisor GreenLeaders, which highlights eco-friendly hotels and B&Bs on TripAdvisor, making it effortless to plan a greener trip.

2. What is your greatest achievement?

I'd have to say building the TripAdvisor GreenLeaders program from nothing to being the largest green hotel program of its kind in the U.S. within six months is my greatest achievement. We're coming up on a year now and have nearly 4,000 hotels participating. It's been an exciting experience, and we're seeing a lot of momentum within the industry in response to the program.

3. What has been your biggest failure?

It came early: I failed to get into my first choice college. However, it turned out to be hugely beneficial for me -- not only did I learn the ability to brush yourself off and move on, but I also had the opportunity to explore other interests and travel the world.

4. What daily steps do you take to promote sustainability?

I spend quite a bit of time thinking about sustainability all day at work, talking to hoteliers and other people in the business. I'm constantly learning from the work I do on TripAdvisor GreenLeaders. I am also currently working my master's thesis, which analyzes green practices in the hospitality industry.

So, in my personal life, I bring these ideas home with me and incorporate them into how I live my life. I try to integrate sustainable living into my everyday habits as much as possible.

5. What do you do to live a balanced life?

Balance is incredibly important to me, and I really value having exciting projects in my work and personal life that give me a sense of purpose. At work, I run TripAdvisor GreenLeaders, and also lead projects for the TripAdvisor Charitable Foundation. At home, yoga helps keep me centered, and designing and sewing clothes -- and blogging about it -- is my main creative outlet.

6. What was the last book you read?

I come back to Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein on a regular basis. It has inspired me during several new initiatives both inside and outside of TripAdvisor.

7. Which green business or person do you admire most? Why?

I really admire the folks behind the Nest thermostat. I believe the most successful "green" products are those that have multiple benefits for consumers -- with Nest, your Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat knows the weather and can sense when you're out of the house, so it can adjust the temperature accordingly, saving you money and reducing your energy footprint. It's fun to use, beautiful to look at, and green.

8. What was the most important thing you learned in school?

I studied medieval history as an undergraduate, [and] I think the ability to research and synthesize large amounts of information in a short timeframe has been invaluable, together with my years on the debate team, which helped me become a confident public speaker in any situation.

9. What was your first job?

My first job at 21 was developing new products at Procter & Gamble, working in Geneva, Switzerland with people from all over the world. It was an amazing crash-course in branding and business, from deeply understanding consumer needs, working with designers on creating products, packaging and branding, and creating advertising. It proved an excellent springboard for me to move into corporate sustainability, understanding how business, marketing, and organizations work.

10. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Teleportation! My team and I use lots of video and web conferencing software, but there's still nothing quite like face-to-face meetings. Not to mention, I have lived thousands of miles from my family for over a decade, so this superpower would make it easier for me to see them. And it would totally reduce my environmental footprint.

More from Fortune's 10 Questions series:

  • 10 Questions: Kathrin Winkler, Chief Sustainability Officer, EMC

    On solar energy, finding gentle ways to stand up to power, and her ambition to swim with a whale shark.

    FORTUNE -- Kathrin Winkler grew up with an interest in social and environmental issues. She regularly explored the woods and mountains close to her New Jersey home and was an avid reader who had an early interest in the works of conservationist Rachel Carson. As an adult, she explored the world MORE

    - Feb 13, 2014 2:14 PM ET
  • 10 Questions: Todd Pedersen, CEO, Vivint

    On dropping out of school, climbing Mount Everest, and working from home.

    FORTUNE -- When Todd Pedersen was 22, he dropped out of college at Brigham Young University to start his own company. What began as a marketing firm that worked with pest control companies quickly evolved into a home security business.

    Pedersen saw additional opportunity in the realm of home automation, and, eventually, residential solar technology. His company, which came to MORE

    - Feb 6, 2014 7:23 AM ET
    Posted in: , ,
  • 10 Questions: Ethan Brown, CEO, Beyond Meat

    On plant-based protein, learning from mistakes, and ringing the office cowbell.

    FORTUNE -- When Ethan Brown was young, his father bought a farm and used the property to start a dairy business. Although time at the farm was reserved for weekends -- Brown's family lived close to Washington, D.C. during the week -- his time spent with the farm animals led to a nagging interest in animal treatment that followed him MORE

    - Jan 31, 2014 1:27 PM ET
  • 10 Questions: Rao Mulpuri, CEO, View

    On treating employees right, caring for customers, and learning how to learn.

    FORTUNE -- We've all seen glasses with special lenses that go dark once the person wearing them steps into direct sunlight. Rao Mulpuri's company, View, does the same thing for windows on a building. The Milpitas, Calif.-based company manufactures "dynamic glass" that promises to be more energy- and cost-efficient than the conventional stuff -- no small matter when most MORE

    - Jan 23, 2014 11:42 AM ET
  • 10 Questions: David Hawkins, director of climate programs, NRDC

    On singing, global warming policy, and the importance of narrative.

    FORTUNE -- When David Hawkins and his wife were newly married, they spent a summer on an island off the coast of Nova Scotia. Hawkins was taking a leave of absence from Columbia University's law school and considering whether he really wanted to be a lawyer. The trip to the island made his decision for him. The experience of watching the seasons MORE

    - Jan 16, 2014 5:31 PM ET
  • 10 Questions: Susan Hunt Stevens, founder and CEO, Practically Green

    On carbon credits, composting, and the courage to make tough decisions.

    FORTUNE -- When her son almost died eating a cashew, Susan Hunt Stevens had a rude awakening. It eventually led her to find her life's calling: making sustainability accessible.

    How are those two connected, you ask? The path is winding. First, Stevens joined an allergy group. That prompted her to start reading nutrition labels, which helped her learn about the importance MORE

    - Jan 9, 2014 3:02 PM ET
  • Jigar Shah on why hybrid cars are overrated

    The entrepreneur spills to us about which "clean" technologies really are spotless. (So to speak.)

    FORTUNE -- Jigar Shah is an entrepreneur who focuses on the growth of energy innovations. He is a board member and former CEO of the Carbon War Room, an organization that finds business solutions to reducing carbon emissions. He is also author of Creating Climate Wealth: Unlocking the Impact Economy. In 2003, he founded the company SunEdison, MORE

    - Nov 26, 2013 1:21 PM ET
  • Annie Longsworth on the one trait every leader needs

    The chief executive of Saatchi and Saatchi's sustainability arm dishes on what drives her.

    FORTUNE—Annie Longsworth is the CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi S, the sustainability offshoot of the global communications strategy company Saatchi and Saatchi. Her goal is to "make sustainability irresistible," and her firm has worked with high-profile clients like Coca-Cola, Caesars Entertainment, Kaiser Permanente, and AT&T to develop energy-saving campaigns and programs. After she attended Fortune's Brainstorm Green MORE

    - Nov 19, 2013 10:09 AM ET
  • Tony Fadell on practicing what he preaches

    "Quality is not a fad, neither is sustainability," says the co-founder and CEO of Nest.

    FORTUNE -- Tony Fadell is the co-founder and CEO of Nest, a household product manufacturer that focuses on social and environmental sustainability. Prior to founding Nest he worked as the senior vice president of the iPod division and as advisor to the CEO for Apple. Nest creates "smart" household products like the programmable Nest thermostat and the MORE

    - Nov 13, 2013 11:29 AM ET
    Posted in: ,
Join in #FortuneGreen
Sponsored by:
Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by WordPress.com VIP.