Creating partnerships between the Nelson Institute and businesses is just one of the many things that community leader and business consultant Jim Rink hopes to do as a new member of the Nelson Institute Board of Visitors.
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering, Rink says he is a Badger at heart and has always wanted to find a way to give back to his alma mater. While Rink spent much of his career working in manufacturing and business management, he says his interest in the environment has grown and he is honored to have this opportunity to work with UW-Madison while also using his skills to contribute to environmental efforts.
“I’m a Badger, I’m a Wisconsin grad,” Rink said. “I always felt I wanted to give back and my passion as I’ve retired and work in my second-half career, is toward environmental issues.”
Rink says he has been interested in the environment ever since he attended the first Earth Day when he was a child. He noted that Wisconsin, and Madison in particular, have a strong connection to the environmental movement and that this deeply impacted his own relationship with nature.
“I always felt like I wanted to give back and my passion as I’ve retired and work in my second career, is toward environmental issues.”
– Jim Rink
“I worked for Caterpillar and moved between manufacturing operations and advanced technology leadership. Large factories are like a small community,” Rink said. “You have wastewater treatment plants, power plants, water systems, and significant impact on the surrounding community. Through my involvement in various plants, I become very sensitive to being a good steward of the environment.”
Rink, who now runs a business consulting and executive coaching organization called Integris 360 Leadership (i360L), says he often thinks about the ways that businesses impact the environment and how more engagement between businesses and environmental professionals could have a positive impact on the planet. So, he connected with Nelson Institute Dean Paul Robbins through the University of Wisconsin Foundation. Dean Robbins shared his vision for the Nelson Institute, which included a desire to better connect with businesses. As a business consultant and executive coach, Rink felt he could help the Nelson Institute faculty, staff, and students in this area.
“When I was talking to Paul, we discussed the strong relationship Nelson Institute has with NGOs, and his desire to grow similar relationships with businesses. There is a place for partnership with the business world and I was excited by that thought and I wanted to help build those bridges,” Rink shared. “A gift I have is being a connector. I’m a connector of ideas and people – ideas to people, people to people, and there are so many opportunities for the Nelson Institute. The more I get to know the Nelson Institute, the more I see the profound impact the Nelson Institute can have. Of course, it already does in the NGO world, but the Nelson Institute could also have a stronger impact in the business world and the Wisconsin business community.”
Following his discussion with Robbins, Rink joined the Nelson Institute Board of Visitors, which advises and assists Robbins in accomplishing the institute’s mission and vision. As a part of his new role, Rink joined a subcommittee working to connect the Nelson Institute and the business world.
“My subcommittee is working on ideas to partner closer with businesses and to raise awareness,” Rink said. “The Nelson Institute has great partnership opportunities, and we continue to meet as a subcommittee, discussing opportunities for outreach, where we can engage with businesses, and how the business world needs people with a deeper environmental sense who can create and execute policy, influence strategy, and change the world.”