EVENTS & INSIGHTS / INSIGHT

The Big Picture: Sustainable Food And Career Choices

by Shannon Houde

Shannon was thrilled to be featured in Forbes as part of Erik Kobayashi-Solomon’s My Big Picture column.

My Big Picture articles focus on making sensible choices in the resource-constrained Anthropocene world in which we live. Some of these articles deal with wonkier topics related to economics and resource usage; some (like the one you are reading now) concern topics related to managing our lives on a day-to-day basis in the Age of Climate Change.

Executive Summary

  • The Netflix documentary Seaspiracy offers a sobering look into the fishing industry and echoes many warnings found in the Dasgupta Report.
  • This documentary and recent conversations with farmers and ranchers has convinced me to take an in-depth look at the current (unsustainable) state of our civilization’s food system. Stay tuned!
  • One great climate change investment that many young professionals overlook is their choice of a career. I recently stumbled across a good book by Shannon Houde called Good Work that offers a practical guide for young professionals looking to switch into a sustainable career track.

Seaspiracy

My March 2021 Climate Catalysts article covered the Dasgupta Report, a study commissioned by the UK Ministry of Finance which attempts to quantify the economic value of the earth’s biodiversity.

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The report cites a reason that natural ecosystems have not been properly valued as economic assets by our civilization: They tend to be silent, invisible, and / or mobile.

The ocean ecosystem fits all three Dasgupta categories and is also disadvantaged by an effect that economists term The Tragedy of the Commons.

Netflix’s newly-released documentary, Seaspiracy, is one sea-loving filmmaker’s attempt to understand why we are seeing such drastic degradation of ocean ecosystems.

I am cautious about accepting the film’s conclusion hook, line, and sinker (sorry), since the producer of this film, Kip Anderson, is the same person who produced and directed the 2014 film, Cowspiracy.

While many of the points Anderson made in his 2014 documentary — especially those related to imbalances in land use, rain forest destruction, the horror that is CAFOs, etc. — were well taken, I found his coverage of regenerative ranching techniques to be superficial and dismissive. In my mind, Cowspiracy was less of a documentary (i.e., documenting an issue) than an advocamentary (i.e., advocating a certain view on an issue).

Anderson’s association with the movie makes me suspicious of taking Seaspiracy’s conclusion at face value.

However, both Cowspiracy and Seaspiracy do raise issue that are vital to look at and which involve one of my main areas of interest – AgTech.

I have gathered a phenomenal amount of good information and diverse perspectives on carbon sequestration, and am starting to plan out a series on that topic right now. After that series, these two movies and some of the conversations that I have had with regenerative farmers and ranchers have motivated me to research and start writing about the climate effects of our food systems for my next in-depth series.

Good Work by Shannon Houde

Many young people contact me asking how they can invest in ARM start-ups (climate change Adaptation, climate Restoration, and climate change Mitigation). One avenue to ARM investing that many overlook is simply directing or redirecting one’s career to focus one’s professional efforts on these topics.

Recently, I stumbled across Good Work: How to Build a Career that Makes a Difference in the World, a book written by Shannon Houde, an American corporate responsibility consultant and career coach living in London. Good Work offers practical advice for those who are seeking to pursue a career that changes the world for the better.

Whether you want to promote diversity and inclusion, advocate for corporate sustainability, or combat the pernicious effects of climate change, Good Work is filled with clear, practical insights and actionable advice on how to land a job in the “impact sector” that aligns with your values and passions.

As Houde points out, an increasing number of young professionals are expressing interest in pursuing meaningful careers that contribute to the social good, and jobs in corporate responsibility are exploding.

However, competition is stiff and breaking into the impact sector can be challenging for those without a clear idea of what they’re getting themselves into. It’s easy enough to say that you want to have a meaningful career or make the world a better place, but without having a clear understanding of the “impact economy” and the qualities for which sustainability recruiters and hiring managers are looking, it’s easy to feel lost and disheartened.

By blending her in-depth knowledge of the corporate sustainability field, dozens of personal anecdotes, and a handful of hands-on exercises, Houde not only provides much-needed clarity on the state of the impact sector but also lays out the precise steps you should take to get a high-impact job.

Houde’s work is composed of four main sections:

  • The Market Landscape: An accessible overview of the state of the impact sector, highlighting recent trends, key players, market trends, and potential career paths.
  • Aim Your Compass: What are your particular values and traits? How can you leverage your specific professional experiences and skills in the impact sector? What are some of the things that may be holding you back from pursuing an impact career? As Houde explains, it is critically important to ask such introspective questions before you start writing your CV or reaching out to potential employers.
  • Map Your Story: Translating your skills and strengths, writing stand-out CVs and cover letters tailored to the impact economy, and dissecting impact job descriptions are the foundation of this step. Drawing upon two decades of recruitment experience, Houde outlines the skills and traits that are highly valued in the impact sector, and shows how your prior professional experiences can be translated into language that appeals to hiring managers.
  • Step Into the Market: Here, Houde walks readers through the process of stepping into the impact market, providing detailed tips on networking strategies, writing a compelling LinkedIn bio, and reaching out to sustainability recruiters.

For those of you looking for a way to invest your professional skills and expertise in the sustainability field and embark on a career that reflects your passions and interests but are unsure of how to start, Houde’s book is a good first step.

Intelligent investors take note.

This article was originally published on Forbes.com and can be found here.

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