Last weekend I was honored to be a judge at a business case competition focused on solving real world social and environmental business challenges, sponsored by the University of Colorado’s Net Impact chapter. It was an excellent case focused on Danone North America and how to leverage their B-Corporation status to drive positive change related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Having led the team that hosted the first of these competitions way back in 2001, it got me thinking about my professional journey and the key decisions I made to get where I am today.
The first of these decisions was to focus my career on sustainability and to close the door on any other possibility; no matter what role I took on for a company, sustainability would be part of it. This led to signing up for regular newsletters and other resources that would help me stay abreast of developments in the field; to this day, I still receive - and scan - upwards of a dozen newsletters. The second decision was to commit to engaging with organizations that would help me see beyond a specific job or company to understand the broader field of practice - a resolution that had humble beginnings as a program volunteer with a local sustainability NGO, and led me to my current involvement in the ISSP Board.
Today’s graduates and new entrants to the field of sustainability have a stunningly greater amount of information available to them than I once did, but I also recognize that this can create confusion on how to focus their careers. This is the core of what keeps me passionate about ISSP: our mission is based in the idea that sustainability professionals are unique and necessary, do not always have the word “sustainability” in their title, and that we need a gathering place where we can advance our professional aspirations and connect with like-minded peers.
As you look to leverage your ISSP membership this year or to even join, my colleagues and I hope you will think of the organization not just as a “means to an end,” but as a partner in your career strategy. From monthly and on-demand courses that teach the field’s core concepts and regular webinars on cutting-edge topics, to in-person and virtual networking opportunities and a two-tier certification program, we meet you wherever you are in your trajectory. What’s more, this year we are bringing back our annual conference. Details coming soon, I promise!
All this is to say that my recent experience reminded me that we are forever students, and while empowering the next generation of sustainability professionals is essential to evoking real change, it is equally important to ensure that those of us who are farther into their careers maintain our ability to keep on learning. So start exploring our offerings today and please do not hesitate to share them with a friend or colleague who might be interested as well!