EVENTS & INSIGHTS / INSIGHT

Be the next CSO

by Shannon Houde

Who would have thought that we would have more than 15% of FTSE250 companies with a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) role in the C-suite? And this is across sectors from pharmaceuticals to IT to retail to mining. Now we all have a role to aim for!

Who has a Chief Sustainability Officer?

More and more large and medium-sized companies companies understand that sustainability is a core strategic business function. Many more market leaders are creating competitive advantage by prioritising the new role of CSO to collaborate with the CFO and CEO to build a sustainable business for future generations. But what does it take become a future CSO?

The Chief Sustainability Officer Skill Set

Recently one of my clients was in an informational interview at a leading supermarket chain the UK. He mentioned wanting to be a Chief Sustainability Officer someday. And even though he had a few years of solid sustainability experience under his belt already, the Director of Sustainability encouraged him to get a job within the business (supply chain, product development, operations) first and then work his way back into sustainability. So this is encouraging for some of us wanting to break into sustainability, but how about those of us already working in this field? We need to make sure we are still developing skills that will be valued by the “top”.

DON'T MISS OUT
ON MORE FREE TIPS

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Sign up

The CSO has a rounded skill set. According to Acre’s white paper, The Emergence of the Chief Sustainability Officer, the top five skills we all need to be honing to be CSO someday are:

  1. Commercial understanding – You need to understand the business. Many companies are now hiring from within the business for sustainability roles because they want to know you can talk about the products, challenge the operations teams, and manage budgets. Commercial understanding is about having a vision, being able to also analyse at a detailed level and being able to develop relationships with the CFO, CEO and Board.
  2. Strategic skills – You need to be constantly looking at the balance between operations and products. Measuring the risks and opportunities for each your products or services will be a focus of your day to day in the context of operational challenges. Can you do a robust SWOT analysis and benchmark the competitive advantages of your company against the sector?
  3. Policy engagement – Being able to engage with policy makers and predict what will be the key regulatory drivers affecting your future business is crucial. Even though we have moved forward from focusing solely on response to regulation and compliance, policies still make up the most powerful framework all businesses work to.
  4. People skills – You need to be a change agent, capable of inspiring others and transforming corporate culture from the inside out. Much of what a leading sustainability officer will do is link the priorities of external stakeholders to day-to-day embedded practices for internal stakeholders to embrace.
  5. Communications skills – Managing the reputation of the business is crucial to the role of CSO. Communicating with external stakeholders and developing thought leadership to convince customers, investors and communities that your agenda matters.

If you possess any or some of these five skills then you could be on the track to the Executive Suite as CSO or at least on her/his team! Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn for hot sustainability jobs and career advice.

This article originally appeared on Acre

Photo credit: Unsplash via Pixabay

comments

You may also like...

Book Launch! Good Work: How to Build a Career that makes a Difference in the World

Joel Makower interviews Good Work author, Shannon Houde, about the evolving impact economy and how to shape a career that makes a difference. DON’T MISS OUTON MORE FREE TIPS Sign Up For Our Newsletter Sign up

By Shannon Houde
purpose
How to find your place in the purpose economy

We’re all looking for a little more purpose in our lives Even more so with the uncertainty that currently swirls around us on a daily basis. In fact, a strong desire to make a difference within their professional lives is one of the key reasons that two thirds of women say they want to substantially shake up their career in 2021. The great news is that there’s rarely been a better time to find your place within the burgeoning ‘purpose economy.’ A

By Shannon Houde
10 biggest sustainability & social impact trends going into 2021

In so many ways 2020 was a seismic year for sustainability and social impact. From a global pandemic, to raging wildfires, and the changing face of both work and wellbeing, the last 12 months will have a legacy that lasts far beyond Covid-19. Here are 10 trends that came out of 2020 that all sustainability / CSR professionals need to know about.   DON’T MISS OUTON MORE FREE TIPS Sign Up For Our Newsletter Sign up The threat of climate change

By Shannon Houde
Webinar: Reset Your Compass and Navigate Through Uncertainty with Clarity and Confidence

OnPurpose 2020 Shannon was delighted to speak at OnPurpose 2020. You can view her Reset Your Compass and Navigate Through Uncertainty with Clarify and Confidence session by clicking the video below. If you’d like some help gaining clarity, you can book a 30 minute trial session here to discuss your challenges and objectives in more detail. DON’T MISS OUTON MORE FREE TIPS Sign Up For Our Newsletter Sign up

By Shannon Houde

NEED SOME SUPPORT?

Book a 30-minute trial session with Shannon

BOOK A TRIAL