EVENTS & INSIGHTS / INSIGHT

Translate your skills for a career in sustainability

by Shannon Houde

We have come a long way from non-strategic philanthropic cheque writing and simple energy initiatives like “turn out the lights”. The Sustainability agenda has “grown-up”! Sustainability 2.0 is now focused on engagement, collaboration and innovation.

Now innovative initiatives to engage change are driven by practioners with business skills, not necessarily techie environmental nerds.  It used to be you needed more technical training and specialist skills, but now the ever-widening field of Sustainability wants to know you understand “the business”.

Hiring managers want to know you understand the business first and foremost.  Many companies are hiring sustainability roles from within. Hiring managers want to see commercial, collaboration and innovation skills.  So how can you translate your diverse skills to meet the needs of the Sustainability 2.0 market?

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Recently one of my ex-colleagues, a senior consultant at a sustainability strategy consultancy in London, mentioned that their clients are pushing sustainability to be all about three simple words now: Engagement, Collaboration, Innovation, whereas it used to be only about compliance, reporting, and avoiding risk.

A report, Corporate Careers that Make a Difference, by Net Impact and Boston College, interviewed more than 20 practioners and asked them what skills are needed for Sustainability 2.0.  They said:

    • Influential communicator – be able to get others to buy-in to your initiatives through effective writing, presenting and networking skills.
    • Change driver – be able to get others to come along with you and believe in the mission of change for the organisation.  The success of sustainability is based on individuals, and in turn, cultures, changing behaviour.
    • Peripheral vision – always thinking outside the box of the company, knowing what the competitors are doing, what stakeholders are prioritising, and most importantly how future government legislation may affect the business.
    • Team leader – being able to engage others as a line manager and as a project leader to meet objectives and stay motivated to work hard.
    • Strategic thinker – link the strategy for sustainability to the core business strategy, continually challenge its programmes and initiatives to ensure they are supporting strategy, think analytically to challenge with supported data.
    • Collaborative networker – engaging others to share ideas so that innovation can thrive and new methodologies can emerge.

Now it’s your job to convince the hiring manager that your skills translate too!  Use their language and prioritise the top skills you offer that are relevant to ones disclosed in the job spec.

Need help?  Translate your skills and map them to the ones the market needs with our Soar to the Summit package.

This article originally appeared on Acre

Photo credit: Unsplash via Pexels

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