Amanda Visser MIEMA CEnv discusses how all sustainability professionals share a desire to do things better than before and how becoming a Chartered Environmentalist was part of that journey her professional development.

I admit I spend a fair amount of my spare time considering how to do things better than I did before and how I can put more effort in to get a better or more efficient result.

From a professional standpoint, I thought much more about this during a three month stand down during COVID-19 earlier this year.

I reflected on a keynote I delivered at a consulting firms’ ‘Your Professional Future’ event that focussed on strategies for future leaders to make their impact as they grow.

We discussed that evening why it is through what we deliver professionally, we can acknowledge our achievements and further, what drives us over and over to continue to push ahead. Why do each of us come into our roles as professionals; whether that be building, environmental, architect, project manager, scientist, designer or engineers all wanting to create lasting change - change that makes a difference to the industry, others and ourselves.

Reflecting on that presentation and looking into the 2021 year, I challenged myself to question; what it still means to make an impact within my workplace and wider industry and has anything changed.

It appears that creating an ecologically balanced future is inherent in all sustainability professionals. As we strive to make our built environment less resource intensive, more responsive and adaptable, healthier, safer and better designed than before - sustainability practitioners collaborate, we listen, and we learn. We share a common determination to do things better than they were done before, better than we did last year, better than we did two years ago – we are focussed on making measurable and lasting changes.

Last year, my husband and I took a break for his 40th birthday and went to Fraser Island camping off Australia’s east coast. Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. It was World Heritage listed by UNESCO in 1992 and is home to rainforest and resident dingo populations of significant ecological value. To preserve the ecology, and to protect the dingo packs– which are a genetically pure population, the island emphasises that we should not make any impact. Controls are in place to ensure that human and dingo interaction is limited. You can camp in fenced grounds, food must be stored in cars or dingo proof cages and not carried with you. Your equipment should be secured each night to avoid dingos thinking you're cooking food. To protect the future dingo population, these controls are in place to create no impact – like you were never there.

Conversely, as professionals we begin our careers all committed to creating an impact, we may not be sure how they will diverge and then reconnect, however we have an intrinsic need in our professional lives to create a lasting change or difference. To do something that is meaningful to ourselves and others. Whether that's in the buildings we design and build, the clients we support, the strategies within a company that we need to influence or the industry as a whole.

I have been working in sustainability for most of my career and no matter the industry you apply sustainability to, the intent is to reduce resource use and to manage material environmental, social and governance risks towards more sustainable development and to maximise opportunities.

My career at The Star Entertainment Group has been a growth opportunity in all respects and overall a fantastic development pathway for my career. I am still motivated after 7 years to continue making strategic and operational change. My goals - creating a more sustainable portfolio and to set and deliver a leading strategy - haven’t changed. I target projects and programs that align to our strategy and that deliver an operational benefit. A big part of lifting company performance in sustainability is about education and communication – taking colleagues with you in support of the company’s sustainability success metrics.

By embedding a sustainability strategy into every facet of the organisation, with support and collaboration with The Star’s leaders we have reduced carbon emissions intensity by 15.5% from 2013, we are leading our industry in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index globally and we are aligning our strategic sustainability actions in support of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. My latest challenge is mapping the pathway to a NetZero carbon emissions by 2030, a target we have just set.

With a light shining on ethical leadership of companies and carefully considered decisions, we look for authentic leaders who can align their purpose and make an impact by staying true to their way of working.

What matters to me is creating impactful change that is measurable, lasting and balances the complexities of sustainable development.

Coming from a science background, taking a methodical approach to planning and execution is the way I approach long-term sustainability. The success for me comes with translating a vision into a plan and executing it to deliver the key success metrics that change a business over time.

So, taking this more recent time out to revisit my purpose and where I think I am making an impact and lasting change was fruitful. I realised that nothing has changed. Getting back to delivering a more sustainable business motivates me and leads to those career achievements that we are all looking for.

To anyone else considering a career in sustainability, those using their spare time to consider how they can do things better, or those navigating a more challenging path in delivering their sustainability goals, you are one of many. This profession requires diverse skill sets, new ways of thinking and above all, determination and alignment to that purpose. Finally, a big thank you to those that help me grow and learn – that is where it starts and how I hope to get better.

Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the individual contributing member, and are not necessarily representative of the views of IEMA or any professional institutions with which IEMA is associated

Photo of Amanda C Env
Amanda Visser

Amanda Visser has more than 14 years’ commercial experience in delivering engagement and sustainability strategies and improving corporate responsibility performance.

She has an extensive background of success consulting for, and working with corporate, government and community sectors; designing, implementing and leading transformational change towards a more sustainable business.

As The Star Entertainment Group’s Head of Sustainability in Australia, Amanda has led the Group to achieving the global leadership position within the ‘Casinos and Gaming’ industry of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the past four years. Amanda is a Green Star Accredited Professional, holds a Masters of Sustainable Practice, a Bachelor of Applied Science and is the sitting Chair of Sydney’s Sustainable Destination Partnership.

Amanda is the 2019 winner of the National Association of Women in Construction’s Contribution to Sustainability award and a 2019 finalist for Architecture and Design Magazine’s Women in Sustainability award.