Key Skills for Anyone Working in Sustainability

Jobseekers often ask me about the key skills one needs to obtain to be successful in corporate sustainability. Throughout the years I have learned a lot about the various tricks of the trade, and I believe there are three skill sets every sustainability professional should know:

1. Understand highly technical practices such as Life Cycle Assessment from the product side, as well as the methods for quantifying corporate sustainability indicators from the operational side. Organizations can’t measure actual progress without quantitative practices such as these, and they are often overlooked and seen as overly difficult (especially within sustainability).

2. Additionally, learn the various software solutions available for sustainability management. Tools make quantifications of impacts automated and much easier to manage. Having a basic understanding of how these systems work is going to help immensely when a client or supervisor wants to implement one of these systems at your organization.

3. Understand how to design and implement higher level corporate sustainability initiatives, such as stakeholder engagements, sustainability strategy development, and sustainability management systems. These skills are immensely important for any candidate as:

  • A stakeholder assessment identifies what sustainability aspects are important to an organization, and whom it is important to (internal and external stakeholders)
  • A strategy incorporates the identified sustainability aspects into their vision and develops it into a blueprint for the organization to follow for sustainability success
  • A sustainability management system is the engine that continually drives the organization toward achieving their sustainability goals and reducing risk

To me, number 3 has been the most important. It has allowed me to provide my clients with unified, cohesive solutions that have increased brand recognition, decreased cost, increased sales, and reduced risk for their organization.

You’ll notice that there aren’t any certifications, accreditation’s, or other professional sustainability “labels” mentioned above; while I think they can somewhat beneficial, they come and go and if everyone has them, how does that differentiate you? To me, it doesn’t, and the facets I have listed above can apply to more than just sustainability.

Think about how you can apply all three of these facets to your job to help your organization succeed.

Love it? Hate it? Let me know!

Written by dwinbourn