Case study: Kirsten - Climate consultancy

I am a Climate Change Consultant currently working for a global sustainable development firm which provides design, engineering, architecture, planning, and advisory services across every aspect of the built environment. Its aim is to shape a better world.

My role is to share knowledge of the causes and consequences of the climate crisis and ensure that those I am speaking with understand the actions they can take to reduce their impact on the climate and can ensure they are resilient in the years to come. I discuss climate change at a strategic level with clients, helping them create a feasible target, a plan to achieve and then actions for the organisation to work through. I regularly contribute to Environmental Impact Assessments on matters of climate change and work with carbon management tools and methodologies for the built environment. I have helped achieve whole life carbon reduction on a variety of internationally significant projects.

My qualifications

I have an MA (Hons) in Geography and an MSc in Carbon Management. During the first few weeks of my Masters, we had a guest lecture from an alumnus who was a sustainability advisor working for a well-known contractor. I decided then I wanted to focus on carbon emissions and resilience in the built environment as the impact of this sector is MASSIVE! My first role was created for me. At the end of my Masters degree I went to an interview for a Carbon & Sustainability Consultant graduate position and heard that those hiring wanted a graduate of the carbon management course specifically (if possible). Luckily, I was the candidate they wanted, and the rest is history!

As a consultant it is usual to have multiple projects on the go at once, so being organised is key. There are always deadlines to work to and in some situations, this can be a very high-pressure environment. Solving problems for clients and negotiating with them are key skills that I am constantly evolving and developing.

What I most enjoy about my job is talking with people! Sharing the knowledge, and the reactions of people when they realise what they can do to reduce their impact. On a professional level I am now working with leaders to create real change. It’s very exciting.

What is important to me

The most important things for me are that my work has a clear purpose, and more importantly that is has an impact. It is important to be valued as a climate specialist as this means colleagues and clients will take notice and listen to my recommendations. Sharing the values of the organisation is a priority as I will not work with organisations who don’t share the same ethics and morals as I do – and this can be seen in their policies and codes of practice.

My career principles

I will only work on projects where I feel I can make a difference

I will not accept “no” for an answer on projects, unless I have exhausted all possible options.

The most important things to me in my career are to fulfil my purpose, have fun while doing it, and create meaningful change.

I will consider any alternatives that are shared with me, everyone has an opinion that deserves to be valued.

I would compromise on how we solve the climate crisis…as long as we solve it!

My advice is to…

Make a list of everything you would like out of a job. Then go through the list again and highlight the ‘non-negotiables’ – the items on the list that you need to have in your working life. If an organisation or role expects something from you that you don’t want to do and won’t negotiate, walk away! Life is too short and you are too valuable to settle for second best.

SGR, Globally Responsible Careers 2021