How sustainability is shaping the future of work

“It’s everyone’s job to get sustainability right within a business.”

As sustainability is becoming increasingly important across the world, businesses are constantly evolving for the benefit of organisations and customers alike.

In January, four Bristol alumni joined the panel for the Bristol Connects Live: Sustainability in Business webinar.

A hand holding a plant

Hosted by Jack Middleton, Sustainability Champion for the Business School, the panel shared their insights into how their employers are addressing business sustainability as well how sustainability is shaping the future of work and gave tips on getting into the sector.

The panel:

  • Peter Ireson – (BSc 2015): Economist at Deloitte
  • Joanna Leigh – (MSci 2015): Sustainability Consultant at Think Beyond
  • Sean Polden – (MEng 2017): Sustainability Manager at Dyson
  • James Chow – (MSc 2013): Assistant Director at EY
Left to right: Peter, Joanna, Sean, James

If you are interested in getting into a sustainable role after graduating, here are some top tips from our panellists:

1 – Show your passion!

You do not need a degree in sustainability to get into a sustainable role within a business. Sean notes that communication and analysis skills are key, but the most important quality employers look for is drive.

Highlight your sustainable hobbies or experiences on your CV. Mention your volunteer work, your love for gardening, or your passion for the field of sustainability, and you’ll be sure to be remembered.

2 – Embrace the change

Sustainability is becoming more widely recognised and valued by customers. This means that ideas are constantly evolving, and businesses are changing too.

Don’t be afraid to embrace the latest ideas that are forming with sustainability in mind – an adaptable approach shows you can confidently manage anything!

3 – Think outside the box

The most sustainable option in a business is not always the cheapest, or easiest. However, as James notices, revenue growth is of equal value to sustainable growth, and businesses are always looking for new, alternative ways to improve both. 

Familiarise yourself with how businesses are adapting to the world of sustainability, ask questions or even suggest alternative ideas! This not only shows passion, but initiative too.

4 – Expect to have difficult conversations

It is important to improve sustainability for the long-term benefits of the business and its customers. Raising this within your role is not a simple task— especially if it means switching up business processes completely! 

As Joanna points out, ‘we no longer have to convince people that it matters.’ So don’t be afraid to have difficult conversations, ask questions that may not have simple answers, and embrace collaboration with different colleagues to work towards a solution.

5 – Be resilient

Change takes time. It may take a while to make changes a normality, and to ensure everyone is on the same page. Resilience is a big part of sustainable roles, and you may also have to accommodate for certain criteria or solve problems in a sustainable way.

It is important to remember that sustainability matters, so demonstrating perseverance is a valuable trait for employers.

Overall, the webinar was extremely thought-provoking, demonstrating how businesses value sustainability and giving valuable insight on how to get into sustainable roles.

If you are interested in this talk and want to hear more from the panellists, you can watch the full Bristol Connects Live webinar here.

You can also connect with the panellists and other alumni on Bristol Connects (with the career expert function). Use Bristol Connects to find alumni who may be able to offer advice on how to break into a specific sector.