Career profile: Kirsty Green-Mann FIEMA

1st February 2024

Kirsty Green-Mann FIEMA, FICRS, FCIPD, MBA, MSc

Group head of sustainability, Hays plc

Why did you become an environment/sustainability professional?

It was a result of my skill set, values, pursuit of challenge and desire to make a change.

What was your first job in this field?

I was promoted into a corporate affairs role and was asked to project manage a strategic review of the company’s global corporate responsibility strategy. This led to my later appointment as head of corporate responsibility.

How did you get your first role?

By pursuing career advancement, wanting to learn and develop, being curious and seeking out a mentor.

What does your current role involve?

Advising and collaborating on the strategic direction of ESG within our global business. Leading on corporate sustainability disclosures and the group’s ambitions for net zero as part of the wider environmental strategy, which is also within my remit.

How has your role changed/progressed over the past few years?

Not much has changed with things like stakeholder engagement and building partnerships, while other things, such as the climate agenda, reporting, regulation and best practice have evolved. Sustainability is taken much more seriously now and is higher on the agenda. My opinion is sought and I don’t have to push so hard to influence in the relevant places.

What’s the best part of your work?

The variety. I’m always learning and discovering. I’ve enjoyed many experiences, and it’s fantastic seeing meaningful impact and receiving positive feedback. I enjoy where there is integration with core business opportunities, and the growing need to recruit and find talent for a greener economy.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

Knowing the scale of the challenge, driving the collective balance across people, planet and profit, stretching from being a strategic leader to drilling into the detail. The breadth of the agenda and what sustainability professionals are expected to know is also difficult.

What was the last development event you attended?

A two-day strategic leadership course at Cambridge Judge Business School and the Sustainability LIVE 2023 conference in London.

What did you bring back to your job?

From the course, the reminder to delegate more and, from the conference, personal energy, new connections, reference points and new resources.

What are the most important skills for your job?

Communication, influencing, ability to join the dots, adaptability, ability to learn, resilience, change management and relationship building.

Where do you see the profession going?

From strength to strength. Increasingly sustainability needs to be a thread throughout every role and organisation. I see more opportunities for more senior roles, as well as the demand for technical expertise, whether that’s in sectors such as renewables or with things like carbon accounting.

Where would you like to be in five years’ time?

I want to continue to develop professionally as a chief sustainability officer and non-executive director.
I want to look back and see real progress in terms of climate and ESG.

What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?

Seek out opportunities, find the balance between ambition and being kind to yourself, be open to feedback, have long- and short-term goals, find a mentor, pay attention to wellbeing and listen to others to learn and bring them along.

How do you use the IEMA Skills Map?

It’s a useful reference point in terms of personal awareness around both strengths and where to reach out for deeper expertise and guidance and where to focus personal development.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Assertive, compassionate and motivated.

What motivates you?

The future, challenge and connection.

What would be your personal motto?

Onwards and upwards.

Greatest risk you have ever taken?

Making big moves for new opportunities, such as going to work in a gold mine in South Africa at the age of 24.

If you could go back in history, who would you like to meet?

Marilyn Monroe – a change-maker.


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