Sustainability consultant at Sustainit, currently working towards PIEMA
Why did you become an environment/sustainability professional?
I grew up in the countryside and have always loved the natural world.
What was your first job in this field?
Communications and partnerships manager for a Bristol-based community interest group (CIC), which set up the UK’s first sustainable fashion week. It involved lots of campaigning for a more equitable fashion industry. This showed me how climate change and social justice are inextricably linked.
How did you get your first role?
I started volunteering as a student and that progressed into employment.
What does your current role involve?
I help clients understand their impact on the planet, people or economy, and how they can reduce negative impacts and increase positive impacts. I also work closely with our comms team on specific knowledge-sharing campaigns.
How has your role changed/progressed over the past few years?
My first job was heavily focused on community engagement, making more sustainable choices and igniting behaviour change from the ground up. Now it involves supporting businesses of all shapes and sizes across a range of sectors. The main change is moving from B2C to B2B engagement.
What’s the best part of your work?
No project or client is the same! I like learning from each one and finding new challenges to overcome.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Engaging with people who might not see the benefits of exploring and implementing sustainability in their long-term business strategy. We use accurate data to help drive sustainability throughout businesses, so we can let the numbers talk for themselves.
What was the last development event you attended?
The Sustainable Apparel and Textiles Conference held by the Innovation Forum in Amsterdam in April 2023.
What did you bring back to your job?
A deeper understanding of the practical limitations and challenges faced by brands/suppliers when calculating scope 3 emissions. It also sparked ideas to help diversify considerations and approaches to the triple bottom line in this industry.
What is/are the most important skill(s) for your job?
Being a good communicator. Even with all the knowledge in the world, without the right communication skills this job would be difficult.
Where do you see the profession going?
As law and policy tightens, there will be a huge increase in transparency and reporting requirements for businesses – meaning more reliance on sustainability professionals to help them get things right.
Where would you like to be in five years’ time?
In a role that continues to provide learning and development opportunities. And supporting more SMEs to understand their impact and work with them to future-proof their business strategies.
What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?
Get some volunteering experience. The NGO/CIC landscape plays a huge role in sustainable development, and the skills learned will be applicable wherever you end up. And it’s a great way to grow your network and find career opportunities.
How do you use the IEMA Skills Map?
As a tool to help me plan for future progression and build my experience.
If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Friendly, calm and motivated.
What motivates you?
Disrupting the status quo. Change can be hard, especially if you’re not sure what it leads to.
What would be your personal motto?
Take things one step at a time.
Greatest risk you have ever taken?
Studying for a master’s and working full time while volunteering. It was an intense year but I’m glad I put in the groundwork, and the time flew by.
If you could go back in history, who would you like to meet?
US Supreme Court judge William Orville Douglas. His dissenting opinion in the Sierra Club v Morton case in 1972 ignited the environmental legal rights movement. He said that natural resources ought to have rights to sue for their own protection. In his own words: “The river as plaintiff speaks for the ecological unit of life that is part of it.”
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