Sustainability is a term that has increasingly become embedded in all facets of our lives. From the home-place to schools, SMEs to multinational organisation and most significantly it is beginning to influence government policies in the areas of transportation, housing and the environment.
For discerning minds, it is glaring that climate change is real and the impact on the planet is one that we live with on a daily basis directly or indirectly. All you need do is listen to the news and read about extreme conditions close to home and in other parts of the world to know the growing concerns. The effect of climate change on flora and fauna, the artic and sea level has significant ramifications for the human species.
The impact of these effects is gaining more and more recognition and driving the need for actions by not just policymakers but most importantly by consumers. Interestingly, selling “sustainability” to business leaders can be a daunting task for those charged with this responsibility. However, we know that business is largely about the bottom line; margins; PROFITS – to get management buy-in. Simply advancing the need for sustainability oftentimes will not cut it with boards by expounding on the need for environmentally friendly sourcing, processes and actions with the aim of saving the planet. The carrot is to be able to present a strategy that is cost-effective, improves and guarantees efficiency, creates a competitive advantage and elevates organisational reputation.
It is important for those who aspire to a career in sustainability to understand that scientific careers are hugely important part of the industry, other options also abound. It is our experience that a lot of the careers opportunities in Sustainability are mostly geared towards helping organisations and companies run more efficiently as indicated above.
To excel in this area, creativity and innovation are important. You must be able to assess and analyse complex and interconnected challenges and scenarios. Significantly, you must be able to understand the implications of a variety of actions and create effective solutions that are aligned to company objectives and ensuring the achievement of financial success.
Understanding the industry in which you work or aspire to work in is important. It is all well and good working to save the planet, however, being out of touch with the corporate agenda and lacking in understanding of the intricacies of the business is not going to do you any favours. You must be able to show an understanding of the balance sheet by developing and implementing strategies that enable the integration of sustainable practices with all business functions to ensure Financial and Business Sustainability.
If you are exploring career opportunities in sustainability, look around you, there is a need for specialists and experts in this area. At the moment, organisations are looking for people with skill sets that are not only focused on environmental protection and health and safety. You need to diversify and acquire relevant skills and experience in your chosen industry, stakeholder management, financial statements, and gain other expertise that will place you in a good stead with prospective employers. Some sectors to explore include; the Life science industry, regulated and general manufacturing, public sector, digital media, broadcasting companies, academia, SMEs, not for profit organisations and the list goes on.
As in the application of technology in everyday life and businesses, sustainability is a phenomenon that is a true and present part of our lives. ICT has created a lot of career opportunities today with more to come that we have not yet heard of. Sustainability experts are in high demand and this is only going to increase. At the moment, demand does outweigh supply, so it is an area that is worth exploring.