10 Things You Didn’t Know about Waste Management CEO James Fish

James Fish is the man in charge of Waste Management, Inc. Said corporation might not be the most glamorous corporation that can be found out there, but it is no exaggeration to say that it possesses incredible influence because of its enormous reach. For context, Waste Management, Inc. plus its rival Republic Services, Inc. are responsible for more than half of the garbage collection that happens in the United States. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about James Fish:

1. Studied Accounting

Fish went to Arizona State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in accounting. There are those who see accounting as being synonymous with bookkeeping, but this is rather unfair because bookkeeping is no more than one of its processes. After all, while bookkeeping is focused on recording transactions, accounting is focused on presenting such financial information in a fair and faithful manner to interested parties.

2. Studied Business Administration

In time, Fish went to the University of Chicago, from which he would receive his MBA. It is interesting to note that Fish specialized in the finance part of the MBA program, which is sometimes lumped together with accounting. This is somewhat understandable because finance is focused on the best use for a business’s assets, which is very much reliant on the information produced by accounting.

3. Is a CPA

Given his field of study, it makes sense that Fish would be a CPA, meaning a Certified Public Accountant. In short, there is a lot riding upon the accuracy of an accountant’s work, which is why people can’t get accounting designations without showing the necessary expertise and experience. Some states literally won’t let people call themselves accountants unless they are CPAs.

4. Started Out at KPMG

Naturally, Fish’s career started out at an accounting firm called KPMG, which is a member of the Big Four. For those who are curious, KPMG stands for Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler, a name that started seeing use when Klynveld Main Goerdeler merged with Peat Marwick in the late 1980s.

5. Has Worked in Various Sectors

It isn’t uncommon for accountants to head into sectors besides professional services. After all, accounting is one of those functions that businesses can’t survive without because unless someone is keeping track of what has been happening, no one will be able to know what is going on. However, Fish has worked in a wider range of sectors than a lot of accountants, seeing as how he has worked at airlines as well as in shipping.

6. Believes in Putting People First

Fish has been known to voice a belief in putting people first. This means the shareholders, which is something that most executives believe in to some extent. However, it should be mentioned that this includes customers as well as employees, who can be considered stakeholders for Waste Management as well.

7. Has Put More Focus on Sustainability

Unsurprisingly, Waste Management has an interest in sustainability, not least because it has a recycling component to its operations. However, Fish has put an increased focus on sustainability, as shown by his choice to gauge sustainability based on greenhouse gas emissions rather than the older system of recycling tonnage.

8. Has Been Helping Out with Natural Disasters

In recent times, Fish and Waste Management has been helping out with the natural disasters that have struck the United States. For example, Waste Management made a $3 million donation to the victims of Hurricane Harvey as well as a $1 million donation to the victims of Hurricane Irma. Likewise, the company plane was used to fly supplies to people on Puerto Rico who had been hit by Hurricane Maria.

9. Credits His Mother for Willingness to Help

Fish has been known to credit his mother for his willingness to help. In short, he said that his mother would help out people that she didn’t know with no intentions of seeking out recognition whatsoever, meaning that she set a good example for him.

10. Oversaw Hiring of First Chief Digital Officer

Very recently, Fish oversaw the hiring of Waste Management’s first Chief Digital Officer, who will be leading the effort to implement various functions such as e-commerce and online self-service. It will be interesting to see how this focus on tech will lead to changes in the waste management industry as a whole, seeing as how it has been less enthusiastic in this regard than a lot of the other sectors out there.


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