Q&A with Emily Chen

“True water stewardship requires collaboration and I am so proud of the work we are doing to motivate others to use water responsibly through our Clean Water Program.”


Emily’s Story

We spoke to Emily Chen to learn more about her role as Program Manager at Apple, an Alliance for Water Stewardship funding member.  Emily is based in Shenzhen, China. 

How would you describe your role?

My role at Apple is to manage the Clean Water Program that is designed to help suppliers establish leading water stewardship initiatives.

As part of this program, we have focused on providing technical assistance and support to our suppliers to help with preserving water. We also work with local governments and communities to provide water education and support clean water supplies in the wider river basin in China to enable us to be a responsible water user at an even broader level. We believe this will create positive environmental impacts across the business community in China.

What drew you to working in water in particular?

When I was a student, I remember seeing some pictures of water pollution and, as a travel enthusiast and an admirer of nature, I started to pay more attention to the field of water.

Before joining Apple, I researched water pollution in paper manufacturing and visited several wastewater treatment plants in large and medium sized companies across sectors. Then I found my dream job and was hired to be a part of Apple’s Clean Water Program. This allowed me to work in-depth with different types of facilities, bringing new technologies and concepts to more companies within Apple’s supply chain. Every day, I am so inspired by our potential to bring about positive environmental outcomes.

What does a day in your job look like?

Early on, I worked with suppliers on technical wastewater-related issues and helping to identify water-saving solutions across their facilities. More recently, I’ve been working with our team to open dialogues with stakeholders across sectors to improve water stewardship in China and to broaden Apple’s influence, sharing lessons learned and best practices.

What does Water Stewardship mean to you?

Water stewardship covers many areas. Because water is a public resource, when improving water in the environment it is necessary to consider the responsibility of each water user, and then link all the related stakeholders together to jointly manage water.

How have you found working with The Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS)/ AWS Standard?

In studying the AWS Standard, I have learned how to evaluate water risks more comprehensively, and how to establish a more complete mechanism to help factories facing the ever-changing water environment and reduce water use.

What I have learned is, if you want to solve water problems, don’t work alone. Find like-minded people and always collaborate with stakeholders to find the common interest. Be responsible and have an open mind.

What achievement are you most proud of when it comes to water?

My main sense of accomplishment comes from the progress we have made with our suppliers in China. It takes time to see all of the positive impacts but it’s encouraging to see how the Clean Water Program motivates others to participate in water stewardship.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

To me, women are gentle as water, firm as stone, and brave as a sword. IWD is the day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural achievements of women everywhere.

IWD 2021 asks: “How will you help forge a gender equal world?” in the context of your work on water stewardship, are there any other female leaders in this space who you think others should know about?

I would like to acknowledge Mu Quan from The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Mu Quan graduated from Peking University, gave up a comfortable life in city and traveled to 23 villages and towns to solve the problem of non-point source pollution in the river basin, exploring a sustainable development path to protect water resources. She is an inspiration.