Salo turns 'Clark strength' into career in environmental research

May 8, 2012

Like most alumni facing a milestone reunion, James Salo '02, M.A. '03, is looking forward to catching up with friends and faculty he hasn't seen since his commencement. But Salo has an additional reason to anticipate Reunion 2012 — he will be honored with the annual Young Alumni Award. "It's really special," he says of receiving the award.

"It's quite an honor — and a bit humbling to be in such prestigious company [as previous award recipients]. It's a nice surprise."

After earning his Clark bachelor's and master's degrees in environmental science and policy, Salo received a Ph.D. from Oxford University's Centre of the Environment. He is currently the senior vice president for strategy and research in North America for Trucost Plc, a cutting-edge, London-based environmental finance company that works with companies, investors and government agencies to understand the impacts companies have on the environment.

"We try to get a comprehensive sense of the environmental impact of companies," Salo explains. He is the research lead for one of Trucost's largest and most noteworthy projects — the Green Rankings, which are compiled in partnership with Newsweek magazine. "It's very analytical, data-driven work," he notes.

From Clark Voices: Watch James Salo discuss his work on corporate environmental issues.

Salo began his environmental research as a sophomore, working alongside his professors. They taught him "how to ask questions, how to think about problems in a broad, comprehensive sense," he says. "I learned how to apply critical thinking to tackle large problems and issues."

Research, Salo says, is "that known Clark strength."

While at Clark, Salo completed internships with National Grid and the Boston-based Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (Ceres), which promotes dialogue among environmental groups, investors/shareholders, and corporations to work toward concrete solutions for a sustainable future.

His work at Ceres cemented Salo's desire to enter the environmental-policy field. At Oxford he researched environmental finance and corporate environmental performance, which ultimately led to his work at Trucost (then based in London only).

One of his proudest moments came in 2008 when he was asked to start up North American operations for the company. Within seven months Salo had already begun the partnership with Newsweek and was working on the inaugural Green Rankings.

Salo continues to be an active member in the Clark community, involved with the Alumni and Parents Admissions Program, Alumni Affairs, and regularly talks at campus events, including the Alumni in Residence program.

Last fall he also brought his experience to the classroom teaching "Greening the Corporation," a full semester class on business and environment at Clark's Graduate School of Management. "It was wonderful to be able to share my love of the environmental field with Clark's students," Salo says.

Salo's Clark experience actually began in his early childhood. The son of two Clark alumni — Jerry '72 and Elizabeth '70 — he spent many hours running across the campus green when his parents brought him to visit campus.

Salo enjoys returning to campus to talk with students. He tells them that if they make the most of their Clark experience, they will reap the rewards. That goes for alumni as well, he adds. Stay in touch with Clark, and the benefits are more than worth it.

The Young Alumni Award will be presented at the May 18 reunion dinner at the Dolan Field House. Also being honored that night is the man for whom (along with his wife, Joan) the field house was named, Tom Dolan '62, M.A.Ed. '63, who is receiving the Clark Lifetime Achievement Award.

Salo, recipient of the Tom Dolan '62 Outstanding Service Award as an undergraduate, is thrilled to be sharing the evening with Dolan. "He's quite a wonderful man," he says.