Apr 22 2023
Energy Minute: Get in the Game: Shifting into a Climate, Sustainability or ESG Career with Mike Hower
In time for Earth Day, Dana Dohse and Steven Goldman are joined by a special guest to talk about how to begin your journey into the ESG or sustainability career field. Over the past year, we’ve seen a “green wave” of skilled workers looking to shift to roles focused on sustainability or ESG issue areas, either at their current company or at a new one, or taking their talents from Big Tech to Climate Tech companies. Mike Hower, a sustainability expert with an unconventional career trajectory, has been helping companies to report out and tell stories about their ESG and sustainability impacts in roles across the last 15 years. Mike recently founded Hower Impact, his own sustainability communications consultancy, and Impact Hired, a platform aimed at helping people find impact jobs — while making it easier for companies to find the experienced hires they need to achieve their sustainability ambitions. In this episode, he joins Dana and Steven to dig into how professionals can transition their existing skills into sustainability and ESG-focused work, the unique challenges and strategies faced when hiring ESG professionals, how the growing climate tech is creating new opportunities, and how those already in ESG roles need to stay ahead of future regulatory requirements for ESG reporting and adoption. Key Takeaways: Nobody has perfect experience in the sustainability sector - even if you have deep experience in one sector, shifting to a new one usually requires a fresh learning curve on the specific issues that sector faces. But those shifts are possible, requiring you to master the story you have to tell around your experience and how it translates between industries.When pursuing an ESG or sustainability career, make sure to focus on your soft skills - communications, ability to advocate for new initiatives, working across a range of teams - as much as technical knowledge.Become a lifelong learner if you aren’t already, because this space is changing so fast. Even if you recently got a degree or finished a certification, regulations and standards continually change, and you need to stay on top of relevant areas for your sector.A career in sustainability takes grit and optimism - there are lots of learning curves, failures or setbacks along the way. It’s a constant - but rewarding - battle as you work to solve problems and get the right initiatives in place to meet your organization’s sustainability goals. Resources: Environmental Defense Fund’s Degrees podcast curated an excellent Green Jobs Hub for jobseekers;Broader green job boards include Kristy Drutman’s Green Jobs Board, Green Jobs Network and GreenBiz’ Sustainability Jobs board, and Ed Carley’s Clean Energy & Sustainability Jobs email list on Substack;Specifically climate tech focused job sites include Climatebase, Climate Draft, MCJ Collective, Terra.do and Climate Tech VC - note that many of these also offer focused networking, office hours with experts, events, and in some cases training or fellowships;Check out the #DayInTheLife series on OpenDoorClimate to better understand what actual skills climate professionals use in their jobs (spoiler: most are non-technical skills);Get real-world skills and experience through a fellowship like EDF Climate Corps or the Clean Energy Leadership Institute; sustainability career coach Trish Kenlon curated a list of 18 fellowships to consider;Trish also put together a comprehensive list of certifications or degree paths if you’re considering further education;Lastly, look at the hashtag #opendoorclimate on LinkedIn to find sustainability professionals offering an open-door policy.