Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Breaking into Sustainability Consulting: 101

Sustainability and CSR consulting is an emerging field with optimistic prospects for growth due to the increasing realization that there is a huge business opportunity to leverage social and environmental strategy to drive financial objectives.

According to the 2012 Global Sustainability Consultant Survey conducted by David Schatsky at Green Research, 60 percent of sustainability consultants entered the field within the last 5 years.  We are seeing the arrival of a growing number of new boutique consulting firms focusing specifically on organizational sustainability strategy.  Concurrently, more and more existing consultants are moving from their prior field of expertise and gaining the education needed to reinvent themselves as sustainability strategy specialists.  

What is perhaps even more telling of the maturation of this industry is that all of the big management and strategy consulting firms -- Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PwC, Accenture, Boston Consulting, McKinsey -- have each created their own division for sustainability consulting.  Such firms can have tremendous influence on big clients whose operations have far reaching social and environmental impacts.  The fact that these firms have realized the value to be gained from sustainability strategy is an indicator that the private sector will be the most probable leader in driving the global shift toward sustainability.  This, of course, appears to be ever more true as we witness, in frustration, seemingly stagnant global legislative action to mandate corporate responsibility. 

As a current MBA student studying sustainable business management and looking to capitalize on the opportunity to be a sustainability professional in the coming decades, I have gotten some great advice on how to strategically enter the field. 

Paul Bozzo -- my Entrepreneurial Finance professor and Founding Principal of the 10X Group, a consultancy for entrepreneurial strategy -- gave me an overview of common career paths of specialty consultants.  You can start with a big firm -- a KPMG or an E&Y -- to get broad experience with management consulting, client relationships, and strategy development and implementation.  From there, you can spend years moving up and up within the firm to eventually and hopefully become a partner.  Or, what is more common is to take that broad experience and move to smaller, more focused firms.  Eventually, a final route for some is to establish yourself as an independent consultant with enough  expertise developed over the years to market your personal brand and take on solo projects.  According to the Green Research 2012 Sustainability Consultant Survey, 61 percent of sustainability consultants work alone or in firms with 10 or less consultants in the practice.  

Of course, this is very general advice, and sustainability consultants have varying career paths within this framework as well as completely different paths altogether.  But being at the onset of my career as a sustainability professional, this general guidance is enough for me to take my career development to the next step. 

Navin Ramacharndran -- currently Vice President of Products at Amyris Inc, and formerly an Associate Principal at McKinsey & Co. -- provided further advice on how to prepare to enter the sustainability division of a large consulting firm:

1.  Identify which office has the greatest focus on sustainability.  The global scale of these companies means multiple offices across the country and around the world.  Different offices encounter a different number of clients interested in sustainability strategy development.  For example, because of regional culture, offices in San Francisco or New York will see a higher demand for sustainability consulting services compared to, say, Atlanta or Minneapolis.  

2.  Ask associate-level consultants at those identified offices how much they actually work on sustainability projects.  If there are few active clients for a firm's sustainability division, associates are often placed on other projects, whatever they may be.  To develop expertise in the sustainability field, you should be working specifically on those projects as much as possible. 

3.  Master the case job interview.  According to MIT's Career Development Handbook, the case interview is an interview in which "you are introduced to a business dilemma facing a particular company. You are asked to analyze the situation, identify key business issues, and discuss how you would address the problems involved."  Case interviews are most common in management consulting firms and investment banking companies, and there are numerous resources on- and offline where you can find sample case studies to practice with.  

However, in my search to find case studies specific to sustainability issues and strategy development, I have come up short.  I imagine this is because of the relatively early stage of maturity of the industry.  The way I have decided is the best way to find my own sustainability cases to analyze is to find a company with an established CSR strategy and pull up their annual CSR report as well as the 10-K for that same year.  The analysis, then, is to identify the key social and environmental issues addressed in the CSR report and understand how and where the company's sustainability strategy had an impact on their financial performance reflected in the 10-K.  To get clients onboard, there must always be financial gain because the bottom line of the triple bottom line, ultimately, is the bottom line.  Of course, many efforts that are part of a company's sustainability strategy provide intangible, non-financial benefit.  It is also equally important to address these gains and translate them into an argument for how the company can leverage that value as a tangible asset. 

Are you currently a sustainability consultant?  What was your career path to get you where you are today?  What advice do you have for MBA students looking to enter the field?  Do you think that analyzing sustainability cases is an effective way to prepare for an interview with a sustainability consulting firm?  Please share your thoughts.

87 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing! I have recently completed a MBA in Sustainable Business with Green Development Concentration from Marylhurst University. Sustainability consulting is what I want to pursue as a career. I interviewed and applied for, literally, 100's of jobs and everyone said the same thing: "Your resume looks great, but you have little, or no experience." So, I was hired by a biodiesel manufacturing company and I have been appointed the position of Sustainability Coordinator. My plan is to use this as an opportunity to consult and gain the experience I previously lacked by being able to prove that since I was hired our GHG emissions have decrease by X amount and we have saved $X. My advice to those seeking employment in Sustainability Consulting, and even with a Sustainable MBA, are having trouble is to start where you are working so that you will have a sustainability case to discuss in future interviews. Just my two cents...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the comment, Rick! I agree that starting with GHG, energy, water, waste, etc. analysis within your current company is a great way to get experience in the field and familiarize with appropriate sustainability metrics that will later be essential for consulting with future clients. For those who are not pursuing a consulting track, there is always the opportunity to champion your company's sustainability efforts even if you are not currently in a sustainability-focused role. I've witnessed time and again a trend where a company's Director of Sustainability -- or Chief Sustainability Officer, VP Sustainability, Sustainability Coordinator, etc. -- transitioned into that role from elsewhere in the company because they were able to pitch to their executive suite the business case for creating such a role in the company. Rick, I think it's great that you were able to come into your biodiesel company and start in a sustainability role. I would love to be able to find a similar opportunity.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't know if anyone has mentioned this yet (I haven't thoroughly read everything here, sorry), but The Natural Step has awesome courses on corporate sustainability. Bob Willard, a leading expert on 'selling' corporate sustainability models, has a new book (released last month) called "The New Sustainability Advantage" - you may want to look into that as well (I think it's his 10th Edition!).

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great, thanks for the suggestion, Elaine! Another good resource I'd recommend is called "Making Sustainability Work" by Marc J. Epstein. Epstein has a lot of other publications on measuring environmental performance and developing sustainability strategy.

    ReplyDelete
  5. To be a Sustainability Consultant in Asia, especially when one is a non-westerner, can be a challenge. This is because of Sustainability is still in its infancy in the corporate world, and the notion of having an Asian consultant talking about Sustainability just doesn't quite match up to experts from US/Europe. I guess this is a perception and hopefully it could change in due course.

    I could draw parallel to Rick's experience. In my case, I was "accidentally" thrown into the Sustainability role as our HQ decided to develop a regional program to drive Sustainability. This gave me the opportunity to delve a little deeper into the topics & work with different stakeholders to come up with strategy & initiatives. This is the practical side of Sustainability, although I've yet to attend formal school to look at the academic perspective.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Business Consulting is the practice of assisting other businesses and organization over come business obsticals and improve the performance of the business.

    Business Counseling Services

    ReplyDelete
  7. Nice Blog. This is very informative and useful for me. Thanks for sharing this post. Keep it up.
    Business strategy consulting firms
    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing such a great post here I am looking for new updat here.
      IT Consultants New York

      Delete
  8. I am currently enrolled in a 1 year Sustainability Science MS program. I am considering sustainability consulting as a possible career. Do you think it is necessary to have an MBA? I am debating on applying for a 1 year MBA program to bolster my resume and learn some new skills. I would rather avoid going back for more school/loans but I am thinking it may be in my best interest in the long run.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think it is completely necessary to have an MBA to pursue sustainability consulting. It's more important to have experience planning and executing a sustainability strategy for a company. However, what an MBA is good for is to understand how a sustainability strategy is integrated with core business strategy, as well as its relationship with every part of a company's operations.

      Delete
  9. I think Investment consultant is extremely nice. Investment consultant web site include a lot of nice info.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!








    IT Consulting Firms

    ReplyDelete
  11. Very much useful for me. Very well written I appreciate & must say good job…for more details something like visit IT Consultant Training get more informations.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi! This is really informative. If you want to learn more about business related stuffs like Business Accelerator Program, Growth and Profit Solutions, and other business tips, you may visit Coumans. We can help you with your concerns about business. And, feel free to browse the website for more knowledge about business world. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Acetech IT consulting Company in Delhi offer the technical knowledge and can help your business get the most out of your technology. Why are Acetech IT consulting services truly the best? Visit Us to find out more.

    ReplyDelete
  14. The fact that these firms have realized the value to be gained from sustainability strategy is an indicator that the private sector will be the most probable leader in driving the global shift toward sustainability. Business consulting company

    ReplyDelete
  15. Acetech IT consulting Company in Delhi offer the technical knowledge and can help your business get the most out of your technology. Why are Acetech IT consulting services truly the best? Visit Us to find out more.

    ReplyDelete
  16. My friend mentioned to me your blog, so I thought I’d read it for myself. Very interesting insights, will be back for more! sicurezza sul lavoro livorno

    ReplyDelete
  17. Really very nice information shares on this blog about Project Management and development your business in the market. If you need to more details about Project Management consulting company click here.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Wonderful, just what a blog it is! This blog has provided the helpful data to us continue the good work. http://www.etude-de-cas.fr/case-in-point/

    ReplyDelete
  19. Business Consulting Company in India- RKM IT Services deeply focuses on the client's main business simultaneously imparting response to growth opportunities ardently. The consulting task promoting a brainy fusion of the client's staff and it’s immensely talented and highly experienced IT minds.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Really informative stuff i really appreciate you for sharing brief information on Consulting. if any one need It consulting services then just follow the link Reputation Management

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have just visited your website and found it very useful and informative. Your information is very useful for the readers. Thanks for sharing and please keep sharing.

    Business Grade VoIP | IT Consultant

    ReplyDelete
  22. Business Consulting Services - If 'chaos' most effectively identifies your office method, it is best time for you to work with firms offering business consulting services. Business owners all over the world will need this help to create a better workplace.

    ReplyDelete
  23. It's really a good way of doing digital marketing,.
    Asian consultancy

    ReplyDelete
  24. You’ve provided great information in your blog. Many thanks for sharing the information in your blog.
    Top Business Consulting Firms

    ReplyDelete
  25. This seems to be one of the best blogs related to consulting. There are many management consulting firms in singapore which also offer perfect information and necessary help regarding consulting.

    ReplyDelete
  26. We helps the businesses in finding and executing the business purpose in an efficient way.
    Corporate responsibility examples

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thank you very much for the informative article about Digital Agency. We won't tell you we are the best IT consulting Brisbane, But we assure to help businesses to generate more revenue through Network Services

    ReplyDelete
  28. Nice post. Thanks for sharing it. It's a very valuable information for people who need management consult. I have something to share with you a very good management consultant for business and personal.
    Infinum Growth Insight - A Management Consultant Firm

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thanks For Sharing information.Environmental Strategy Consultants is an Air Quality consulting firm offering multidisciplinary technical and regulatory support; air permitting application consulting and negotiation.We aim at customer satisfaction.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Good information to know and right to the point on career. Thanks for this well written post related to search jobs , i’ll follow up for more updates if you keep posting them.

    ReplyDelete
  31. It is a great sharing...I am very much pleased with the contents you have mentioned. I wanted to thank you for this great article. I enjoyed every little bit part of it.Web Design Sydney, Logo Design Sydney

    ReplyDelete
  32. Your blog provided us with valuable information to work with. Thanks a lot for sharing. Keep blogging. Stratycon | Business Consulting Firms in Bangalore

    ReplyDelete
  33. We Will Do Website Design With Android Application...!

    We will provide the best website design with the latest Google policy and SEO also to get the best traffic on your website which will help your business to increase as wwll as the mobile friendly app of your business

    Jains Technology Solution OPC Private Limited (JTS) as a Web design & Web development company for all your web related services can help you in beating these vast resources for your benefit.

    https://www.fiverr.com/shilpijts/do-website-design-with-android-application

    ReplyDelete
  34. I appreciated your work of business consultant very thanks https://freeje.com/

    ReplyDelete
  35. Nothing enamors like the lights of NYC. Brooklyn Effects(TM) has made a module for Polished product Star X giving flashes and light holes adding enthusiasm to all recording. Is there the light choices, as well as advances for FCPX to easily change starting with one clasp then onto the next. FCPX Effects

    ReplyDelete
  36. Hi fellas,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful article really!
    If someone want to read more about that business consultant for entrepreneurs sacramento I think this is the right place for you!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Great inf at all provided by you. For Business management consulting services , Please do visit our website: biztechmgt.com for more tips.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Very well explanation,Thanks for sharing this knowledge.Good job.Best Business Consultancy in Hyderabad.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Great survey, I'm sure you're getting a great response.
    Situs Judi Online Terpercaya

    ReplyDelete
  40. I needed to thank you for this phenomenal read!! I unquestionably adored each and every piece of it. I have you bookmarked your site to look at the new stuff you post. 5000 postcard printing

    ReplyDelete
  41. Love what you're doing here guys, keep it up you also go here: Business Plan Consulting Services

    ReplyDelete
  42. Thanks for sharing valuable information.It is very useful for me and also useful for who wants more information. Consulting Services

    ReplyDelete
  43. Have you ever considered creating an ebook or guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog centered on the same subjects you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my visitors would enjoy your work. If you're even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email. it security melbourne

    ReplyDelete
  44. Finding out the right consultant may be the toughest part for any company owner or management. The people must have the qualities like as: drive for excellence, passion for work and a keen eye for companies and their details. Besides, it is also necessary to choose the expert, who has experience in the industry where your company is operating or has knowledge about all the problems that your company faces. In some cases, it is also important to check whether these professionals have solid referrals before hiring them. To know more visit JCF Capital Advisors LLC & JCF Capital Advisors

    ReplyDelete

  45. Great, Thank you for sharing with us. Very nice article & have great information.

    immigration lawyer

    ReplyDelete
  46. I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked your site to check out the new stuff you post. HR consultants

    ReplyDelete
  47. I enjoyed reading your article :) PLease continue publishing helpful topics like this. Regards, from alwaysopencommerce.com.

    I think this article will fully complement your article.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I just found this blog and have high hopes for it to continue. Keep up the great work, its hard to find good ones. I have added to my favorites. Thank You.
    Managed Service Providerfox valley area

    ReplyDelete
  49. There is a lot of information here that can help Marino Sussich any business get started with a successful social networking campaign.

    ReplyDelete


  50. At the same time, it faces huge allegations of unnecessary expenditures, loopholes in examination process and setting up papers beyond the ability of students. This year, one billion rupees were said to be spent on 5th and 8th class exams in Punjab, while all students taking part in exams will be considered passed.

    PEC 5th Grade Result 2018, PEC 8th Grade Result 2018, Grade Result 2018, 5th 8th Grade Result, 5th Grade Result, 8th Grade Result, PEC Result

    ReplyDelete
  51. Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us. warehousing

    ReplyDelete
  52. Great information
    If you are searching for the most dependable business consultants in Dubai that can provide you with the most satisfactory business consultancy solutions, then just contact Dubai Business Services.

    ReplyDelete
  53. This is a Wonderful post for sharing business thoughts, Thank you so much for sharing a nice information with us, If you want to know more about Business consulting, you can read about Imad Kutum. He is the founder and the president of Kutum & Associates Inc.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Looking for an IT Consulting. company. HawksCode provide best service of consulting as well as web design and web development. So contact us to get the best service.

    ReplyDelete
  55. This blog is really helpful regarding all educational knowledge I earned. It covered a great area of subject which can assist a lot of needy people. Everything mentioned here is clear and very useful.ic! belin แว่น

    ReplyDelete
  56. Wow! This is the perfect blog I am looking this type of blog its awesome blog here , share great information about this topic. This informative blog helps many readers with their decision-making regarding the situation. Great articles and will look forward for more!กล่องไปรษณีย์

    ReplyDelete
  57. Gracefully written information on this blog are going to support me for my coming assignments. Every point was very clear and taught me few new parameters. I would like to use this information in coming future.โรงพิมพ์ออฟเซ็ท

    ReplyDelete
  58. Hey, Wow all the posts are very informative for the people who visit this site. Good work! We also have a Website. Please feel free to visit our site. Thank you for sharing.
    Strategic Business Consultant Services
    Keep Posting:)

    ReplyDelete
  59. awesome site
    https://zilkerpartners.com/it-staffing-denver/

    ReplyDelete
  60. Thank you again for all the knowledge you distribute,Good post. I was very interested in the article, it's quite inspiring I should admit. I like visiting you site since I always come across interesting articles like this one.Great Job, I greatly appreciate that.Do Keep sharing! Regards, how to start a security guard company

    ReplyDelete
  61. Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained! auto repair service in avebury

    ReplyDelete
  62. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

    Best Interior Designers in Chennai
    Industrial Architecture
    Warehouse Architect
    Factory Architect Chennai
    Stormwater Consulting Chennai

    ReplyDelete
  63. This specific genuinely perhaps a great offered i the truth is genuinely liked perusing. It's not at all actually standard i add the option to assess a unique issue. small business loans for women

    ReplyDelete
  64. Excellent article. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article. Thanks! keep rocking. Calgary HR consultant

    ReplyDelete
  65. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work. siem

    ReplyDelete
  66. Thanks for sharing artile about Best IT Consulting Company
    Best IT Consulting Company

    ReplyDelete
  67. This blog is really helpful regarding all educational knowledge I earned. It covered a great area of subject which can assist a lot of needy people. Everything mentioned here is clear and very useful.Stop Loss

    ReplyDelete
  68. Share great information about your blog , Blog really helpful for us . We read your blog , share most useful information in blog . Thanks for share your blog here .
    ที่ปรึกษาธุรกิจ

    ReplyDelete
  69. This blog is truly useful to convey overhauled instructive undertakings over web which is truly examination. I discovered one fruitful case of this truth through this blog. I will utilize such data now.หิ้งพระโมเดิร์น

    ReplyDelete
  70. I am thankful for this blog to gave me much knowledge regarding my area of work. I also want to make some addition on this platform which must be in knowledge of people who really in need. Thanks.Agile Project Management

    ReplyDelete
  71. Story of this blog is well written. The writer kept in consideration the grammar very well. Level of English also very well. Lot many new words has been used while writing content of this blog.
    ufabet

    ReplyDelete
  72. Story of this blog is well written. The writer kept in consideration the grammar very well. Level of English also very well. Lot many new words has been used while writing content of this blog.
    เสาเข็มหกเหลี่ยม

    ReplyDelete
  73. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.
    john faraday

    ReplyDelete
  74. Fantastic! Great written article. I am so excited. Thanks for sharing useful information with us. Recruitment agencies in Nepal
    Reliable manpower agencies in Nepal

    ReplyDelete
  75. Nothing remain forever. Then why to keep same patter of work again and again. Why to repeat same strategy for very essay. Use differ strategy for different subjects because every subject has its own meaning. Keep such posts on.
    ฆ พ

    ReplyDelete
  76. This is the first time I came to this blog and I found some relevant stuff here. Basically I keen to know new parameters of writing every-time and sometime it become really very hard to find such kind of platform.Forex Bitcoin คือ

    ReplyDelete
  77. Yes, I am entirely agreed with this article, and I just want say that this article is very helpful and enlightening. I also have some precious piece of concerned info !!!!!!Thanks. cheap Recirculation Valve

    ReplyDelete