Medtronic taps first chief sustainability officer to lead the charge toward environmental goals

Medtronic has created a new executive role dedicated to achieving the company’s lofty environmental sustainability goals.

The medtech giant’s first-ever chief sustainability officer is Raman Venkatesh, Ph.D., according to a LinkedIn post this week from Ken Washington, Ph.D., Medtronic’s chief technology and innovation officer.

“In this newly created role, Raman will be responsible for leading the development and execution of Medtronic’s Environmental Sustainability strategy,” Washington wrote. “I am excited to see Raman and his team drive Medtronic forward on our sustainability journey. I am confident that together we will shape and unlock new innovative solutions that serve our patients and our planet.”

MassDevice was first to report the news.

Venkatesh will step into the new role—as part of Washington’s leadership team—starting next week. In response to Washington’s post, Venkatesh wrote, “I look forward to partnering with you and other senior leaders, along with my team, as well as my colleagues across Medtronic to continue to engineer the extraordinary, sustainably!”

After starting off as a research engineer at Calgon Carbon in the mid-90s, Venkatesh’s nearly three-decade career has included stops at Unilever, Eureka Forbes and SAE International, among other companies.

In recent years, according to his own LinkedIn page, he’s homed in on sustainability efforts: At Pinnacle Executive Advisors, he provided guidance to a healthcare-focused private equity firm around acquisitions in the sustainable medtech manufacturing space. And since June of last year, he’s served as an executive VP at Aquaporin, a Danish company developing technology for more sustainable water purification.

Medtronic, too, has spent the last few years ramping up its sustainability efforts. The company hosted its first-ever ESG investor briefing in the fall of 2021 to outline long-term goals for its environmental sustainability, social impact and governance and accountability.

In the environmental category, Medtronic aims to be carbon neutral by its fiscal year 2030. By 2025, it’s planning to have reduced its greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 50%, to cut its energy intensity by 20% and to be sourcing at least half of its energy from renewable and alternative sources. It’s also working toward shaving off 15% from both its water usage and waste intensity and reducing the packaging of some of its high-volume products by 25%.

By 2027, the company aims to have reduced the amount of paper used in its devices’ instructions by a little over a third.

According to the 2023 sustainability report (PDF) Medtronic published in December, the company has so far reduced its operational greenhouse gas emissions by 35% compared to its output in fiscal year 2020 while reducing its energy intensity by 6% over the same period.

It’s now sourcing 31% of its energy from more sustainable energy sources, has cut its water usage intensity by 9% and has already surpassed its waste reduction goal with a drop of 17%. Progress toward the packaging reduction goal stands at 7%, while paper use has dropped 1%.