As corporates realize the importance of sustainable development, the demand for managers who can make profits in environmentally friendly ways is on the rise.
According to recent figures an increasing number of MBA applicants in the 21st century are keen to choose a good job a career path that would allow them to use their skills to help make the planet a better place. But the same people, as MBA graduates, may look at their debts and wonder how they can balance their desire to get into the field of sustainability and make some money?
Range of options
Many graduates looking to move into a more socially responsible career look at options in NGOs not for profits or international organizations. Several of these organizations now work directly with the business sector on sustainability issues. Forum for the future based in London works with businesses on their sustainability strategies. The World Wildlife Federation an international conservation organization has a division focused solely on working with business and industry.
Graduates can also choose to explore career opportunities in the growing world of international sustainability standards and networks in which the business sectors is active. This includes the international Fair Trade Organization, the forest Stewardship Council, which certifies paper and wood products from responsibly managed forest sources and the Global Reporting initiative an organization that works on setting standards for sustainability reporting.
Christine Dandy at the career services office at London business school in the UK is responsible for government and not for profit jobs. There is definitely an interest increase in not for profit jobs with MBA and executive MBA students. Many executive MBAs are very interested in switching to a career in not for profit. The feedback is that they’ve succeeded in the corporate world and are looking to give back during the second half of their career. She does acknowledge that the salaries are lower. As for salary they are almost all less than the typical finance and consulting roles. However, some of the them are comparable to salaries in FMCG, retail and other industries.
Within industry there has been a significant increase in sustainable career options recently which are more in online with the salaries graduates expect post graduation. In fact as more companies choose to take sustainability seriously they are offering a wider range of jobs in this area either within a sustainability department or within units of the business that are working in sustainability related issues.
However not all of these jobs have the word green or sustainability in the job title so they are no always easy to find.
Every job and profession now has a green alternative including the career paths most popular with MBA graduates, finance and consulting. For example, graduates interested in working in the financial sector can go into social responsible investing and consultants can specialize in sustainability consulting.
Almost all of the financial institutions and consulting firms have sustainability divisions or projects including McKinsey Goldman Sachs and HSBC.
Opportunities within companies
Even if you are not able to find a job focused on sustainability there are quite a few options to still expose yourself to these issue in your career and gain some experience that could place you in position to apply for a sustainability related job later. Many companies have special programs available for employees interested in working in sustainable development. The International Exchanges take communication professionals who currently work in communications companies from developed countries and pair them up with suitable NGOs in developing countries in particular Brazil. The Accenture Development Partnerships Programs sends Accenture consultants to developing countries to work on special consulting projects. In both cases, employees return to the company with a new set of knowledge and skills.
Any job can be a green job
The most important point to remember when looking into the field of sustainability is that any and every job can be a green job. If you really want to have an impact, use your skills and passion by going into a company and bringing about change from the inside. Does your company have a sustainability strategy and can you get involved in implementing this through your own job? Are there office greening programs or other groups within the company you can get involved in? Are there ways that you can bring sustainability into the work you do on a daily basis?
If working from the inside of a company to bring about change isn’t exactly where you see yourself, you might choose to be a social or environmental entrepreneur. With the increasing number of opportunities arising in the sustainability sphere, several entrepreneurial MBA graduates are starting companies aimed at filing gaps. The Global social Venture Competition is global social business plan competition where MBA students can get feedback on their ideas, mentorship and potentially some money to start up their venture.