Davide Stronati, group sustainability manager at Mott MacDonald, offers his career advice
How did you land your current job?
In September 2012, Mott MacDonald was looking for a new group sustainability manager, a position that was advertised both internally and externally. I applied as I was finishing a secondment in Anglian Water’s @one Alliance as their corporate responsibility and sustainability manager. So the timing worked out well and I had good references to support my application.
What has helped you get where you are in your career?
Following my passions, working hard and being lucky. You need to be in the right place, at the right time and with the right spirit.
Do you have any tips for people about to embark in your field on how to make a success out of their careers in sustainability?
Every career in sustainability is basically bespoke, as sustainability can be incorporated in any position. There is no clear path and I would encourage everyone to create their own.
Who have been your role-models/mentors in your career?
I’ve had several role models in my career, starting from the professor of chemistry and biology at my high school right up to Mott MacDonald’s chairman, Keith Howells. One of the most important ones is Dale Evans, the director of Anglian Water’s @one Alliance. He truly believed in me and my ideas at a crucial moment in my career.
What have been the stumbling blocks or barriers along the way?
Being different and original in my ideas on sustainability management and leadership. However, I also believe that this has been my strength and differentiator.
What stages of your career have been the most challenging?
The next one!
The most rewarding?
What I’m doing right now, as well as working at the Anglian Water @one Alliance.
What is key to getting the most out of your team/colleagues?
Giving them full marks from day one and asking them to prove it.
What have been the groundbreaking instances or milestones in the sustainability field that have really changed the way you have to work? And how did you adapt to these events?
Having the opportunity to test my ideas about change management, leadership and sustainability at the Anglian Water @one Alliance.
What qualifications have been necessary/most beneficial in your career?
That sound sustainability management brings quantified financial benefits.
Have you had much continuing professional development and has this been useful?
Yes, crucially important. Approximately every seven years I take some time off to go back to university and complement myself. I undertook my first degree at Italy’s University of Trieste in 1997. I also attended the University of Cambridge in 2004 and Harvard Business School in 2011.
Could you sum up, in one sentence, what has changed in the industry since you first began your career?
We are now at the stage where sustainability is accepted as a strategically important element for organisations. It now needs to deliver strong results and communicate them.
What does the future have in store for your industry – choppy waters ahead? Or a fruitful and secure future?
Assuming the global economic situation doesn’t change dramatically, then the main risk for sustainability in the future is actually sustainability itself. It has a reputation to defend and strengthen as a competitive advantage of successful companies.