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.


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.

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