October 6, 2022

Where are the next generation of sustainability talent?

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If you have to recruit the dream team of young professionals destined to be the next wave of business sustainability champions. What qualities would you like them to have?

My wishlist: They will be diverse. Systems thinkers, practitioners, they bring their analytical skills and knack to storytelling. Vision with patience for the process I’ll add a sense of humor (hey, this is my dream troupe) and a touch of spirit.

If you had to look for the next generation of sustainability experts in today’s workforce. Where can you find them?

I hope your answer is EY, KPMG, Deloitte, PwC, Accenture and their big and small siblings. Because that’s what the next generation is going through: mentoring.

There is a baby boom mentoring of well-educated and well-trained young apprentices with a growing set of specialized skills.

“Big consulting firms employ tens of thousands of people every year. “From the beginning of their careers,” said Bruno Sarda, EY’s Head of Climate Change and Sustainability Services. can increase efficiency and deliver quality work quickly.”

analyze this

As corporate climate action grows and investor pressure increases, companies increasingly seek expertise in developing specialized analytics. and statistical data from reliable and standard third parties. According to GreenBiz’s 2022 State of the Profession report, 35 percent of companies report an increase in consulting resources by 2021.

Consultants, on the other hand, have staff who can help clients not only crack the code. SASB and TCFDbut also TNFD, GFANZ, CSRD and more. Ellen Weinreb, CEO of the Weinreb Group, an executive search firm focused on sustainability and social responsibility in their careers. Tell me recently, that makes them preferred by employees at many companies if they decide to leave consulting.

Professional services firms seeking ESG and sustainability talent can benefit from current sustainability-focused undergraduate and graduate programs, and Sarda noted that they are also employed by Subjects such as policy or analysis “with the right amount of ESG”, for example, include business with a minor in sustainability.

Weinreb noted that the mentorship looks for candidates pre-reviewed by EDF Climate Corps and other graduate internships, including GreenBiz itself. new age leader program. As the field places more emphasis on specialized knowledge Compared to general practitioners who consisted of in-house sustainability teams in the past. Consulting firms are still the basis for proving that expertise.

You can do these projects one by one and become an expert.

Sarda added: “We’ve always heard from young people that The diversity you get when you work for a consultant instead of at home — the diversity of sectors, geography, teams, personal networks” is unparalleled. “It’s also an opportunity to specialize. For example, we hire people who are interested in modeling climate risks or in TCFD scenarios. You can take each of these projects individually and become an expert.”

result? Baby boom mentoring of well-educated, well-trained and skilled young apprentices. Which in three or five or 10 years may be the next hire for the in-house sustainability team. (Or it could be the only person who hired you).

Heather Zanoni spent 6.5 years in the Climate Advisory group at KPMG, after three years as a facility engineering consultant. Before becoming Senior Director of Sustainability and ESG at Dick’s Sporting Goods last spring, “My KPMG background? You can’t duplicate that level of access.” As she recalls: “I used to work with 100 clients when I left. I have a conversation about a really big problem. These are in every industry, in the world’s top 1,000 companies.” She now brings lessons learned from hundreds of projects to her in-house consultancy.

I admit that all of this sounds pretty good. (Looks like I should add “More than 100 customers billed” in my dream features list)

But what are the stereotypes? Rows of rotating drone analysts, countless pivot tables and PowerPoint slides? We fear that a group of experts has been rewarded over the years for productivity and consistency. And for bringing unimaginable ideas to fields that need visibility?

Vadia Mahzabeen reflects that “Junior level expertise doesn’t have much value. The idea is that you can solve any problem. It’s not without real insight if you have a rigorous process.” She was one of our GreenBiz 22 Emerging Leaders and worked as an analyst at Accenture after graduating from Johns Hopkins University with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in 2006. 2018, besides the mild criticism She moved to boutique consulting firm Resonance after Accenture and she couldn’t. Don’t rule out additional mentoring as her career progresses. “I have developed the ability to play different projects and timelines in both companies. You work fast and learn to communicate well.”

And all that PowerPoint?

“In defense,” she says, “the ability to think through storytelling and what’s important to your audience is a really good skill.”

Note to myself: Add PowerPoint to your Dream Corps wishlist.

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