The Nature Conservancy, a sponsor of Wharton IGEL, is hiring a Lead Scientist with a PhD, post-doctoral experience and at least 10 years of related expertise in areas such as ecosystem services, anthropology, economics, rural sociology, psychology, human geography, etc. Check out the job description to find out more about this opportunity. Mention that you found this posting on the Wharton IGEL blog.
FMC, a Sponsor of IGEL, is looking for a Sustainability Engineer to fill a position in its Philadelphia office. For more details: Sustainability Engineer Job Description. Apply on the company’s website and mention that you found this posting on the IGEL’s blog.
Aishwarya Nair is a Masters of Environmental Studies student at Penn, with a focus on Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management. With a B.A in Economics & International Relations from the University of British Columbia, she is currently researching solutions for sustainable electrification in rural areas in the developing world and the redesigning of the grid system.
The days of the earth movement being limited to tree hugging and long-haired hippies are over. Green fever is sweeping across the global corporate landscape, and I didn’t have to look much further to find the proof of this statement than IGEL’s Careers in Sustainability, Energy and Business event.
On October 5th, executives from SAP, MERCK & Co, Coca-Cola, the Dow Chemical Company, and Sustainable Life Media met with Penn students to discuss the future of careers in sustainability and social impact. For those looking at the possibility of entering a green career, the advice is simple. You can start anywhere but sustainability is about being cross-functional, understanding business, and being able to speak the “different” languages to communicate across the board. Just as important, however, is picking the right company to work for; it must be a company that understands sustainability as well, and has a purpose that they take active steps to achieve.
Also appealing was the knowledge that sustainable ideas could come from anywhere. With more and more businesses seeing the profitability in greening up their supply chain and their products, today’s focus is on building relationships between disciplines (finance and sustainability for example).
The pointed questions asked by the audience also revealed that this interest is not one sided. One of the real concerns voiced by the students seemed to be whether all that could be done had already been done, and where the future of green corporations was heading. As someone thinking about a green career, I was just as relieved to hear that we’re only at the tip of the iceberg. As populations expand and demands grow upon the natural system, governments and companies are all looking for more innovation and partnerships to help improve choices and productivity.
Another very valid question asked was how do companies make their sustainability schemes mainstream and actually impact the bottom of the pyramid. Joe Rozza, Global Resource Sustainability Manager for Coca-Cola, gave an example of his company’s own work to show how sustainability must make sense locally. As a company that heavily uses water, Coke’s future is dependent on access to good quality drinking water. When working in an area with lower environmental standards, building economic dependence on a local asset helps not only in greening up the supply chain for a company, but in also improving the quality of life in that area by creating economic development at the bottom of the pyramid.
The main takeaway from the first panel was that one must learn to balance different stakeholders and have clarity of destination. All in all, the event marked an excellent start to the academic year. The panellists were all very informed and very open to really answering the questions and concerns the audience raised. To read about the second panel on careers in energy and corporate efficiency, click here.
Posted in careers, Clean Tech, developing countries, ethics, reduce, resource use, students, Sustainability
Tagged Aishwarya Nair, careers, IGEL, Joe Rozza, sustainability
Check out our interview with Bill Kunze of the Nature Conservancy. Bill shared great insight into the Nature Conservancy itself, and the increasing importance of non-profit partnerships with businesses. Bill also shared his thoughts on key considerations for careers in sustainability. “… it’s actually going to be a bottom-line matter for businesses to be operating as efficiently as possible with as little waste as possible, and also making sure that they’re doing what they can to ensure the future security of their supply lines. And that’s really another way of saying sustainability.” Watch the interview below or on YouTube:
by Amanda Byrne, MES Student
Joe Rozza, Global Resource Sustainability Manager of Coca-Cola, took some time out to share helpful industry insight into careers in sustainability. Joe comes from an environmental engineering background and has worked on water resource topics for most of his career. He mentioned that it is helpful to be able to operate in more than one expertise area, and cross-functional skills are key. Students considering careers in the sustainability space need to be technically astute on current issues, and should be able to communicate effectively with relevant stakeholders. “… more career paths into the sustainability space. It’s not really just environmental anymore. So if you’re a finance major, there’s a role for you in sustainability. If you’re a communications or marketing person, there’s a role for you. If you’re an engineer, there’s a role for you.” Watch the interview below:
by Amanda Byrne, MES Student
Amanda Byrne is pursuing a Master of Environmental Studies with a concentration in Environmental Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. She worked at ICF International for four years primarily supporting EPA’s ENERGY STAR program after graduating from Penn State with a Bachelor of Science in Energy, Business and Finance.
How often do you hear electric utilities talk about their work in the sustainability and environmental impact mitigation spaces? Let me tell you, it is a very enlightening experience. Two utility employees participated on the second panel of IGEL’s October 5th event – Careers in Sustainability, Energy and Business – and discussed many ways they are driving those types of efforts within their companies. Rye Barcott, commercial associate in the Sustainability Office of Duke Energy, and Melanie Dickersbach, Climate and Environment Strategy Manager at Exelon Corporation, both talked about their work to move their companies to a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly framework. An interesting fact that the panelists mentioned is that much of the utility work force will be retiring in the coming years. The utility industry is worth looking into if you are interested in corporate sustainability career opportunities. Based on questions from interested audience members, Melanie and Rye gave the following tips to those interested in careers in that field:
- It is important to first understand the structure and intricacies of the utility industry in order to address future challenges.
- It is particularly helpful to have sales experience.
- Internships with utilities are a great way to get your foot in the door and start building utility experience.
Gary Survis, CEO of GeoscapeSolar, and Bill Kunze, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Nature Conservancy also participated on the panel and highlighted the following key points with regard to careers in energy and corporate efficiency:
- Consumers are making decisions based on finances over their emotions (particularly in the solar industry), so it is important to understand the financial components in this business space.
- It will benefit students to study cultural shifts in terms of attitudes towards sustainability.
- Experience at consulting firms can help build experience with breadth and depth for these types of careers.
It is evident from the panelists’ comments, and their resumes alone, that cross-functionality in sustainability careers is important. But that doesn’t mean we have to pursue five different career avenues before settling into sustainability. We can learn from these experiences and figure out how best to tailor our curriculum and the types of companies we pursue to our interests.
This event was the first career event that IGEL held this year, and it was extremely useful for me to hear career and curriculum pointers directly from industry (in particular, employees that hold the types of positions I want!). If you weren’t able to make it, check out a recording of the event here. To hear more from some of the panelists individually, check out panelist interviews here, or at: http://www.youtube.com/WhartonIGEL.
Posted in careers, Clean Tech, students, Sustainability, Wharton
Tagged careers, Duke Energy, Exelon, IGEL, Nature Conservancy, solar power, sustainability