In an increasingly environmentally conscious society, we must consider the responsibility corporations have regarding sustainability as well as the significance it has within the workplace itself. On the 18th of March 2021, the careers service held a panel on “Careers in Environment and Sustainability” which I was lucky enough to attend. Both career paths working specifically within the environment and the role we can play as an individual working within a company were highlighted by the incredible speakers: Sara Grimes, Carlos M. Lopez-Alled, David Starley and Dr Parimala Shivaprasad.
We first heard from Carlos M. Lopez-Alled, an Environmental Consultant at Tragsatec in Madrid. After studying Chemistry at the undergraduate and master’s level, Carlos undertook his PhD in Sustainable Technology at the University of Bath. My key take-away from Carlos was how valuable his PhD was to him in securing a role in a career in sustainability. When we think of steps we can take to increase our employability industry experience is what usually first comes to mind, while Carlos did highlight this as a significant factor in his success, he recognised his progression into postgraduate education (within sustainability) opened up many opportunities that wouldn’t have been available otherwise.
Sara Grimes is the sustainability officer for Bath and North East Somerset council and her route into sustainability was very different to Carlos’. After graduating from the University of Sussex with a BSc in geography she moved to the US and pursued a career in activism and campaigning before moving back to the UK and undertaking further study in the form of an Environmental Policy MSc at the University of Oxford. Her current day to day involves evidence studies, policy writing and lots of collaboration with other people to move towards a more sustainable future. Sara encouraged involvement in local projects through the council to students wanting to gain more experience in the environmental sector. She also advised that when volunteering to “define a clear role for yourself with personal objectives, taking responsibility, thinking about the “person specification” of the type of job you want”.
We next heard from David Starley, a recent University of Bath graduate who is currently working as a Process Engineer for Babcock International. Though not working specifically within sustainability, he has managed to make an impact in the environmental consciousness of the company by bringing his passion for it to the job. This being something he discovered at University and developed as the founding member of the Chemical Engineering sustainability group. He stated “You don’t need to join a specific ‘green job’ to be able to have an impact. If you do join a large company then find out what they are doing on sustainability and get involved, be as proactive as you can – people in sustainability positions will notice you!”. David’s testimony is a clear example of the impact young people can have on the workplace and the influence we can have in driving positive change.
Finally, we heard from Dr Parimala Shivaprasad, a research associate in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Bath. Parimala's journey into sustainability allowed her to combine her interest in chemistry and enthusiasm for entrepreneurship. Her innovative solution to the 2 million tonnes of flower waste produced in India every day along with other research and entrepreneurship has enabled her to visit 6 countries, attend 9 trade shows and meet with over 100 companies.
I thoroughly enjoyed the panel and was surprised to see how much work was available within sustainability both directly and indirectly. It was inspiring to see how much the opportunities have grown in this evolving field and the impact we can make as individuals.