Saturday, 20 April 2013

Pathways to a sustainability career




Young people doing it for themselves

I’m collaborating on a leadership development workshop for recent graduates who are looking for their first job in sustainability. It took me twenty years to realise I wanted to work sustainability. Now, twenty years later, I’m piloting a workshop to help recent graduates find a quicker route into a sustainability career.

How a little philosophy can help you work in sustainability

I have a hunch that there are a lot of graduates like me, who took degrees in subjects like Fine Art, Philosophy, and French, and want to work in sustainability. And like me, when I was their age, they don’t know what kind of green jobs there are, where to look for them, or how to get through the recruitment process.

Mid-career, multi-lingual and multi-talented: the new global leaders

What if young people on Facebook knew how to create their own professional networks? What would happen if they used their power to help each other to grow and develop, the same way folks who are on Linkedin do? I was having a coffee with one of my students recently. Julia is mid-career, multi-lingual, and multi-talented. She is part of the Linkedin generation: people who can do business in at least three languages, and are accustomed to changing the company they work for, and the country where they live, about every three years. She met a bunch of guys on a sustainability leadership programme, and they stayed in touch. Why? Well, first of all, they like each other. They have become close friends, and they have fun together. The glue that keeps them together is one part shared values, and two parts a common desire to make a difference to world. They understand the need to live and work more sustainably, and they are excited about the opportunities, locally and globally, to change the way we do things.

Networks are good for individuals and organisations

They also help each other with their careers. The Linkedin generation do business together. The fact that they know each, and trust each other, is making it easier for corporations to talk to corporations. Nadia and her network are working together to measure and reduce corporate carbon footprints, locally and globally. None of this would be happening to the same degree, if Nadia and her friends had not met on a leadership programme, and formed a network that works for them at both a personal and professional level. If all networks worked like this, might we all become better connected, more creative, happy and contented?

Can’t young people get jobs through Facebook?

Why can't the pre-Linkedin generation have the same opportunities to motivate and support each other?  That’s what Facebook is for, I hear you say. Yes, and no. Facebook works very well as a means to share photos and stay connected with friends and family all over the world. It’s good for launching projects, promoting causes. I still think there is a need for something that allows you to do more than ‘Like’ what your friend had for breakfast. And I detect a kind of snobbery about Facebook, which means it may not be the best place to look for a job. Quite the opposite in fact. Employers use Facebook to eliminate job applicants.

The power of collaboration

This is why I am collaborating with friends on a leadership workshop for recent graduatesIt’s a collaborative event because I believe it is important to walk the talk. I want to show the participants how a highly motivated team working together can create a transformational learning experience.
We want to share what we have learned from working in different areas of sustainability. We want to showcase different pathways to a sustainability career, and demonstrate how to build a self-sustaining network that will benefit participants, personally and professionally. Above all, we want the participants to leave ‘Pathways to a Sustainability Career’ feeling confident about their choice of career, and with an increased awareness of how to network and support each other in the future.