Sustainability Officers are senior-level directors, officers or managers who communicate and coordinate with management, shareholders, customers and employees to address sustainability issues. These professionals oversee a comprehensive suite of activities related to reducing environmental impacts and applying sustainability principles. As a result, Sustainability Officers develop, implement and evaluate programs for their employers that support social, environmental, and economic sustainability objectives. Most Sustainability Officers come from diverse professional backgrounds and enter this position through past experience leading junior staff and managers. In their role as key organizational leaders, Sustainability Officers must have outstanding skills in strategic planning, human resources management, and relationship-building.
Imagine that you’re standing in the main quad of a bustling university campus. As the new Sustainability Officer here, you’ll be developing a campus-wide program to encourage environmental stewardship and energy conservation. This initiative includes the expansion of the university’s existing research on applied environmental science and policy, as well as an ongoing community outreach program to raise awareness about sustainability issues.
Since your role is central to public perceptions about the university, you will be reporting directly to the university’s President. Even though this is still your first week on the job, you have a full, fast-paced day ahead of you. You’ll be leading a number of meetings with different stakeholder groups to get more information on their needs and expectations for the university’s sustainability programs. You’re also planning to finish your research on a cost-benefit analysis for the program, and start writing a grant proposal to ensure that enough funding is available to support upcoming program additions.
You know you’re up to the challenge of this new role as a sustainability officer. Throughout your past work experience, you’ve developed strong skills in leadership, strategic thinking and connecting different departments and teams. These abilities will help you excel as you support the university’s goal of long-term, financially-feasible sustainability projects.
As part of their work, Sustainability Officers often focus on:
Sustainability Officers typically work in these settings:
In the office:
In the field:
Sustainability Officers are usually employed by:
Most Sustainability Officers have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in the following areas:
In addition to the fields of study mentioned above, Sustainability Officers also need extensive management experience. Current sustainability practitioners can boost their soft skills for a future Sustainability Officer role with professional development courses in: