Charlie Ashford, sustainability consultant at Corporate Citizenship, tells us about his role
How would you sum up what you do on a typical day?
There’s no such thing as a typical day. At any one time, I’ll be working on a number of projects for our clients, from high-level strategy and materiality projects, to the nitty-gritty of socio-economic impact measurement, environmental data assurance and human rights benchmarks. Around the edges I’ll be pitching for new business, contributing to research, writing blogs and overseeing the publication of our daily media briefing.
What would you say is the best bit about your day?
The variety – working on such a range of issues with such a diverse group of companies. I’m constantly talking not just with counterparts in sustainability and CSR teams, but with their colleagues from other functions too. It means I get a rounded view of our clients, and see first-hand the impact that sustainability is having on the day-to-day operations of the business.
And what is the biggest challenge?
Juggling demands and dealing with competing priorities – whether that’s helping clients to make the internal case for investment in sustainability, or just in terms of managing my own workload.
What made you decide to become a sustainability consultant?
It wasn’t a conscious decision. I went from a dissertation on the economics of climate change to internships with ET Index - a research company that helps investors cut carbon and beat the market, and CDP - an organisation that enables companies, cities, states and regions to measure and manage their environmental impacts. Everything fell into place from there.
What is it that you love about your job?
Undoubtedly my colleagues. I’m always impressed not only by the wealth of knowledge and experience at Corporate Citizenship, but also by everyone’s friendliness and ability to find a solution to every problem!
What makes a good sustainability consultant?
Our role is often about being a ‘critical friend’ to our clients. They trust us not just to meet their immediate needs, but also to make recommendations based on our experience of the broader context and a longer term perspective.
What advice do you have for people about to embark on a career in sustainability consultancy
I always advise people to read a helpful blog by one of our former graduates, entitled ‘How to get hired for a job that doesn’t exist’. Remember that there’s more than one way in, and think about gaining experience elsewhere that could lead to a lateral move later in your career. Entry level roles in sustainability are relatively rare, but we try to help fill the gap with our internship and graduate schemes.