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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : Jan/Feb 2000 :Bill Ford

Bill Ford

On Conservation International (CI):

I was looking for something global in its approach . . . when CI came to my attention. I really liked the CI people when I met them. They were energetic, they were incredibly focused on their mission and they were very strong in terms of their credentials. Russ Mittermeier, president, is world-renowned. They were grounded in science, they weren’t grounded in hysteria and fear tactics. They were very action-oriented. And they were very creative in their approach. Peter Seligmann, chairman, is a very creative businessman who’s very adept at pulling together governments, NGOs and the private sector. And most environmentalists weren’t good at that. I thought that Peter and Russ made a perfect team: Peter the business approach and Russ the science approach. I thought it worked well.

On his role as a board member at CI:

The board is a very engaged board. Peter and Russ use us as a strategic body and we spend a lot of time talking about the mission of CI. The whole area of the environment is so all-encompassing and there are so many avenues one can go down. It’s very tempting when you’re part of something like CI to want to embrace it all because we do have good people and we do have access to funds and yet we also need to stay on our missions. My role most specifically has been to help bring business closer to CI.

On using the Internet

I am on e-mail all the time. I scan papers, I scan articles. I do have access to much more industry information than I ever had before. I check out industry chat rooms, Ford chat rooms. I get a lot of e-mail from our employees and I do reply to them.

On recharging:

I work out every day. I think I am going to get a black belt in the martial arts in the next six months. I try to do that for an hour every day. I enjoy that.

What I truly enjoy is going away into the mountains or some other pretty place. I love to fly fish. I go to northern Michigan and fly fish. I go out to Colorado and fly fish. And then usually, although I didn’t do it this year, but in the past I have taken a kind of adventure trip once a year. I have been to the Amazon, I’ve fished in southern Patagonia, I have been to Alaska several times, to the interior of Alaska. I really like doing that stuff. But I have four children and they are getting to the age now where I am starting to take them along and so my trips are getting a little tamer.

On mentors:

I really don’t have any business mentors. There are a lot of people I admire. I admire Henry Ford the first tremendously as a businessman. Thomas Edison was someone that I read a lot about growing up. But in the world today, it’s people like Bill McDonough, people like the Dalai Lama. It’s people who are not only optimistic about the future but are trying to help shape that future in a positive way for society.


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