Moving to ESG From an Unrelated Career Path
The beauty of moving into a career in ESG is that there are so many professions whose skills feed into the sustainability space so seamlessly. Taking, for example, the investigative skills of a policeman, the technical system knowledge of an engineer, the research skills of a journalist or lawyer; it is clear that those professionals can easily apply their respective expertise to ESG and Sustainability jobs.
The trick is not to be shy of those skills you already have. Discard any prerequisite ideas you may have around working in sustainability and go in without fear ready to play to your strengths and be open to acquiring new skills in the process.
What organisations have grown to understand is that there is a sustainability component or impact to many of their activities and those of their related stakeholders, like suppliers. As a result, organisations have developed specific roles to target those different ESG and Sustainability requirements within their corporation as they increasingly focus on sustainability impacts.
This also means that the majority of organisations of a certain size and environmental impact now have sustainability expertise in-house. So, those wanting to make that inter-departmental move can do so relatively easily once they express an interest in the ESG and Sustainability space. Many ESG professionals will have begun their career in sustainability by simultaneously working on their areas of original experience in conjunction with sustainability jobs. Thus there is a high degree of understanding and support available for those who currently seek to shift into ESG roles.
The reality is that there is no standard pathway into sustainability and no one really is an expert in “sustainable business” as there are numerous facets of sustainability. It is a space that is evolving constantly, such that essentially every skill set has a place in its growth and development.
If the idea of juggling your existing responsibilities with additional work in ESG makes you reach for the stress ball, you can also start your adventure by going down the short course route. A number of people have opted for this pathway when coming from other professional backgrounds in order to bolster their skills with specific sustainability knowledge. Ultimately, whether through practical work experience or further study, individuals interested in working in ESG need to garner a degree of sustainability experience in areas such as climate change, environmental research, greenhouse gas emissions and so on. Together with strong communication and interpersonal skills, the road to sustainability becomes far more manageable.
With that sustainability experience behind you, it is also worth extending your self-education with relevant reading material, podcasts, lectures and any other opportunities that exposes you to people whom you can learn from.