Suhas Apte's career in Corporate American spanned 35 years and two gigantic companies, Scott and Kimberly-Clark. But what stands out about Apte is one defining quality - intrapreneurship. At Kimberly-Clark Apte was responsible for such feats as getting the entire China market on rolled toilet paper, bringing single use toiletries and hygiene products to emerging markets, and championing the implementation of an Enterprise Sustainability plan for a company that is so large, a quarter of the world's population uses at least one of their products every day. Since his retirement, Apte has brought his industry knowledge to the startup world. The current TiE Tampa Bay President splits his time between Tampa Bay and Atlanta, and champions sustainability in his consulting work,and his book "The Sustainability Edge."
Years in St. Pete
Moved here in 2013, but I straddle between here and Atlanta.
Organizations involved in
A couple or nonprofit and for profit boards. Nonprofits: Forum for the Future, Green Chamber of Atlanta. For profit: gDiapers, a starch-based super absorbent company, a bread company, a lighting company and a cybersecurity company.
What gets you out of bed every day?
That I’m learning something new.
Why St. Pete?
Tampa Bay. It just happened that after retirement we were thinking of moving to Florida. We came and visited close friends of our, our first neighbors back in New Jersey. They lived in a high rise condo on Bayshore Boulevard, we loved the place and we said, “you were our first neighbors, you’ll be our last neighbors.”
What is one habit that you keep?
Growing up, our father asked us to reflect on one question, which was, “What good did you do today?” My three sisters and I follow that religiously. I’ll be honest, on many many nights I don’t have a good answer. But it helps you think about what you need to do in this life that makes someone else’s life better.
Who are some people that influence you?
Very influenced by owners like Tartar. Tartar is a $100 billion corporation. all of the profit from Tartar goes to Tartar Foundations – which does social good and community good. Bill Gates got the idea for his foundation from Tartar. Whatever I inherited from my parents, I have given it back to society; my daughter says whatever I leave for her, she will give back to the community.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
Having become a student of sustainability, I would say this one thing. A lot of times when people think of sustainability, they think of tree huggers and green. I look at sustainability differently. It starts with sustainability of the business. There are so many things you can do in sustainability to grow your top line, at the same time do a triple bottom line thinking and grow your business. My advice to any person on sustainability is, you should not take any action unless it meets one of the four criteria. It needs to save money, increase revenue, enhance brand image or decrease risk.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
I wish I was exposed to entrepreneurship very early, just like I should have been exposed to sustainability very early in my career. If I had been exposed to entrepreneurship earlier, I probably would not have stayed in the corporate world for 35 years. I had a successful career, I applied some of the principles of entrepreneurship inside a company, but considering I have a knack for connecting dots, which is what is needed to spark innovation, I did that for a company but I could have done that for myself.
Continue to give back, help other people get better at what they’re doing and what I can contribute to make this a better world.