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Patagonia CEO: Agent for change

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Corporate financier Rose Marcario worked in various shops, from private equity to tech. She was successful by any measure.

But Marcario began to question the meaning of success, leading her to the outfitter Patagonia, whose ads say, “Don’t Buy This Jacket,” even as it has doubled its operations and tripled its profit. What her company is really saying, Marcario explains, is “Don’t buy more than you need.”

The CEO’s unconventional approach extends to competition. She has joined a coalition of executives asking how they can collaborate.

“We all have the same issues—transportation, packaging, manufacturing, use of water, use of energy,” she says. “These things are very basic. We can solve them. It’s only by a failure of imagination that we don’t. We’re smart businesspeople. This is why I didn’t become a nun or all the things I was thinking about. I really believe that business can be an agent for change.”

— Adapted from “Any fight worth fighting,” interview by Danielle Sacks, Fast Company.

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