The environmental sector is ever growing. Climate action and sustainability regulation is on the rise, leading to an increased demand for expertise. With so many fields of operation and an ever-expanding list of corporate governance legislation, it is possible to upskill or change the orientation of your career. Here are some tips on ways to take control.
1. Explore the options
Motivation is often driven by an alignment with the environmental cause. Take time to understand your personal drivers, whether that be sustainability, regeneration, climate change or other areas. If you have a passion for a particular area then you are more likely to succeed working within it. Consider the expertise you already have and take time to understand your existing transferable skills and ones you may need to acquire.
Connections are crucial in business and for ambitious professionals, knowing the key stakeholders within your particular area is beneficial, not only for learning from others but also to open up routes into new environmental careers and companies.
3. Champion vulnerability
Changing career paths, even within the same sector, takes courage. You may feel exposed, vulnerable, out of control, as well as anxious. Routines make us comfortable and secure, yet to reach your full potential and to fully embrace doing what you really want to do at work you need to take the first steps in a different direction. Getting comfortable with change and difference is key.
4. Execute Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Tracking and documenting your skills, knowledge and experience is important not only for fulfilling professional standards and requirements but also for proving your technical abilities. Some jobs may insist upon it including Chartered environmentalists, scientist roles and environmental practitioners to name just a few.
5. Speak with senior leaders
An open dialogue with the senior leadership team is a great way of sharing your ambitions and hopes. You may find a colleague who is willing to act as a mentor or someone who can provide useful advice. Once your expression of interest has been flagged, you can explore opportunities to take control of your career either via continuous professional development, secondments, further work assignments or training and development. Being ‘out and proud’ about your goals is the only way for others to acknowledge where you want to head and how you are going to get there.
Once you have decided which direction you want to go in, put a plan together of how you are going to achieve it. SMART goals will focus your mind on what is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Look at where you are in your career journey to date, the age at which you hope to retire, your other commitments – be that family, children or something else, and how your career goals can sit alongside those too.
7. Take the opportunities
Be bold. If you want to truly take control of your career then you need to deliver beyond expectations, volunteer for new projects, go out and meet people connected to your line of work, suggest different ways of working and new business ventures, research latest thinking and be on top of environmental news and media. In short, try new things, push your existing job boundaries and raise your head above the parapet.
8. Get noticed
Demonstrate your worth, skills and aptitude by ‘doing’ rather than ‘saying’. Nothing can prove your abilities better than your work history and experiences. Standing still and walking the same path is acceptable if you are happy to stay on the same grade and in the same role but if your ambition is to do and experience more you need to make it happen by standing out from your colleagues.
As with most things, cherry picking just one of these ideas may not be enough. Successful environmental professionals that want to take their career by the horns must combine their efforts in a number of the areas outlined above. By persevering, demonstrating your worth and being brave, you will find new opportunities arise.