Change is sweeping the mainstream global economy. There is a noticeable increase in social interest regarding environmental and sustainability issues, resulting in a positive shift within business practices. Companies are now making corporate social responsibility (CSR) charters part of their framework, as people demonstrate their desire to work for, or purchase from, businesses who offer a high level of transparency. This has led to an evolution of environmental and sustainability orientated roles, creating diverse and in-demand positions.
We’ve put together this blog series to help break down the most popular ‘green’ jobs of the moment; along with some real-world advice from industry professionals on how to land ‘that ideal’ role. Right at the top of our list for the past year is: Head of Environmental Sustainability.
As the lead for environmental sustainability within an organisation, this position is responsible for the development, management and implementation of a company’s sustainability strategy and agenda. Central to this role is a deep understanding of environmental or social impacts of current business practices to ensure organisations are working towards finding new, innovative and economically reductive ways to stay green, as well as manage environmental risks. A key focus of this role is to demonstrate that your company is making a measurable difference to the triple bottom line.
Typical job duties include:
- Effectively implementing and communicating changes; not only creating strategies for a greener workplace, but communicating this to internal and external stakeholders.
- Measuring a company’s sustainability performance.
- Procurement decisions. Working with suppliers to drive joint standards and values across supply chain practices.
- Community and employee engagement.
- Analysis and efficiency improvement, particularly with waste and energy.
How do I get there?
Each role brings with it unique requirements depending on the specific industry, level of seniority or the nature of the work. Some general requirements that translate over a number of sectors are:
- A relevant tertiary degree; Eg. Environmental Sciences, Environmental Engineering, Environmental Sustainability or Business. Post Graduate studies are also desirable.
- Commercial acumen and the ability to develop a business case for projects
- Strong written and verbal communication skills
- Exceptional stakeholder engagement skills
Going beyond the theory, Talent Nation wanted to know what it was like firsthand to be employed in such a role. We spoke to Andrew Sellick, Head of Environmental Sustainability at Australia Post. We asked him some of the most common questions we often get from candidates in regard to sustainability roles of this nature.
Why do you do what you do?
“I lead a small but high performing team that helps drive improved business value for the Australia Post Group by helping the organisation understand and then manage the environmental sustainability risks and opportunities. Everything we do creates a better and more sustainable business, whether that is by reducing operational costs, better managing risk, engaging our people and customers or driving new revenue. That opportunity to find new and innovative ways to have a positive impact is why I do what I do.”
What does a typical day look like for you?
“Primarily it’s working with different parts of the organisation to implement our strategically aligned projects – that could be working with our Group Property team to complete the business case for our next solar installation, testing new and more sustainable packaging materials, working with a customer to use our parcels network to achieve their circular economy objectives or integrating environmental considerations into our business processes such as business case review, risk management or procurement decisions.
However, we need to be reactive to the constant stream of request we get from our customers and business. We are increasingly being asked by our customers to demonstrate our commitment and performance, so we are working more and more on improving our customers understanding of how we work and importantly the results we have achieved.”
Describe your pathway into this role. What did you study?
“I studied Aerospace Engineering at University, something that led to my first roles being safety related in the Airline Industry. This included being an Air Safety Investigator.
My first environmental role was in the Environment Department at Qantas looking at the impacts of aircraft, at the time primarily aircraft noise and engine emissions such as NOx etc. Needless to say, over the next 10 years I was able to witness firsthand the broadening and evolution of environmental sustainability within organisations from being purely compliance focused to an area that contributed added value to the business. Over the period I also completed postgraduate management studies which have been invaluable.”
What advice do you have for graduates that are aspiring to be a Head of Environmental Sustainability?
“Two key capabilities that are essential for Corporate Sustainability professionals are having a commercial mindset and the ability to influence. The more you can hone these skills the more impactful you will be.”
As experts in environmental and sustainability recruitment, when we place a great candidate in such a role, we can see firsthand how this role is hugely rewarding. Even though this type of job can progress your career, the ability to contribute to a sustainable future is something that translates over many positions and sectors.