Motion, innovation and altering the world — that is what I envisioned once I first entered sustainability consulting almost 10 years in the past. I pictured myself working alongside a large number of shoppers, guiding the sustainable transformation of their companies and the transition to a virtuous cycle — serving to them shift from environmental degradation to a planetary financial system.
Fortunately, a lot of what I imagined is the fact. There are plenty of alternatives in sustainability consulting to make a big effect. That mentioned, there’s lots I didn’t anticipate or know. And I by no means thought that someday I’d come to hope that my job will grow to be out of date.
Listed here are 5 key issues I discovered about being a sustainability advisor:
1. It’s all about engagement
Consulting is first, and foremost, about empowering inner groups. Why? As a result of they’re the important thing to really attaining an organization’s sustainability objectives. My job is to equip groups with the data and instruments they should combine sustainability into decision-making and convey the methods to life. Consultants additionally play a important function in breaking inner silos, bringing completely different groups collectively and translating scientific information into enterprise ideas. Considered one of my colleagues advised me years in the past that our job is definitely to be translators. This not solely requires robust communication and engagement expertise, but it surely additionally means consultants must be nice listeners in an effort to perceive how finest to help these groups in driving significant change.
2. Issues transfer quick — actually quick
Consulting is an exhilarating world the place issues transfer shortly and there’s plenty of selection. However sustainability consulting takes this to a different stage. The sector continues to be very new and all the things is in growth — new methodologies, processes, requirements and initiatives crop up virtually every day. Meaning consultants must not solely keep on prime of what is going on on, but in addition to be versatile and in a position to adapt shortly. A willingness to remain curious and continue learning is crucial.
Nevertheless, whereas all of those developments are thrilling for us, additionally they imply plenty of uncertainty for our shoppers to navigate. To help our shoppers successfully, we’ve got to remain three steps forward of them always, at all times anticipating what’s to come back. We have to transcend merely staying on prime of what’s occurring and concentrate on collaborating extensively with the organizations defining these future requirements or methodologies.
3. We don’t do the doing
Except you’re a advisor specialised in implementation, you’re most likely not going to be the one executing the methods and options you present to shoppers. Whereas our work is to allow our shoppers to implement these options, equipping them with all the things they want from the plans, the milestones, the instruments and even help them all through the change, on the finish of the day, we gained’t be going to the crops or within the discipline to make the adjustments occur. Whereas many consultancies have long run relationships with shoppers so are nonetheless round when the adjustments occur and get to see it materialize, we aren’t concerned within the course of. To some, this may be irritating, and it could possibly really feel such as you didn’t get to take part in the long run of the journey. And if a change doesn’t get carried out, it could possibly really feel like we as consultants failed when there are a large number of the explanation why an organization may not be capable to make shifts to an operations mannequin.
I consider sustainability consulting could have fulfilled its mission the day it’s not wanted.
However I attempt to see this as a possibility to deliver my data and influence to extra firms. Implementing an environmental technique is an iterative course of that may take years, if not a long time, to realize. If I used to be accountable for the implementation section of those methods, I wouldn’t be capable to deliver my expertise and data to as many different firms. I see consulting as a possibility to scale my influence.
4. Sustainability and enterprise should be one
There might be no sustainability transition so long as sustainability isn’t embedded into enterprise technique. Getting change to occur requires sustainability consultants to transcend our sustainability experience. First, we’d like to have the ability to communicate the language of enterprise so we will help shoppers perceive why sustainable transformation is important for enterprise continuity. Enterprise acumen can be necessary for serving to us as consultants know what obstacles leaders and their groups face in driving change of their organizations. Second, we have to equip sustainability departments to provoke conversations with their CFOs and CEOs. A technique to do that is by involving management and different departments within the sustainability tasks we’re main. For example, have the CFO take part in environmental-related threat assessments or have the operational groups within the room when creating environmental roadmaps. Getting these stakeholders concerned and fostering a way of possession over the mission and its end result is the best way to make sustainability core to them as effectively.
5. The signal of our success is our disappearance
I consider sustainability consulting could have fulfilled its mission the day it’s not wanted. That can occur the day sustainability turns into a cornerstone of enterprise quite than an upsell or a pleasant to have — the day sooner or later when firms could have totally internalized the abilities and experience that I deliver from the skin. When sustainability is the principle goal of every division and financial success, efficiency and aggressive edge are completed inside a mindset of sustainability — that’s the day we could have succeeded.
I gained’t lie — sustainability consulting isn’t a cakewalk. It may be intense, tiring and generally disappointing when shoppers are resistant to vary or the tempo of progress is sluggish. However when you’re energized by the concept of fixing troublesome challenges, studying one thing new day by day and dealing onerous to assist companies function inside planetary boundaries, then working in sustainability consulting may very well be your finest option to drive influence.
And if we do it proper, we’d even get an early retirement.