JustOne Letter: Why I Chose a Career in Sustainability

March 7, 2022 / by Rhea Campbell-Smith


This first letter in our series of employee letters, Associate Consultant, Rhea, discusses becoming a sustainability professional, and her answers to three common questions she’s been asked a lot while pursuing this career path.

Why did you choose sustainability as a career?

What exactly do you do?

Why do you do what you do?

The first memory of knowing what I wanted to do for my career came when I was maybe five. I decided that I wanted to grow up to be a Pole Vaulter… but then quickly realised heights weren’t my cup of tea at all and that it was unlikely work out. During the next 20 years, my dreams swung from neurosurgeon to engineer to architect, settling at ‘something that helped people and the world’ shortly before I failed my A-Levels.

The truth is, becoming a sustainability consultant wasn’t my ‘dream’ – not because my passions for helping people and the planet weren’t there, but simply because I had no idea you could be a sustainability consultant until I reached university.

So, why sustainability as a career?

To me, sustainability is very much a blanket term for a whole host of material issues that together form this big beast that tends to be blanketed as ‘ESG’ or ‘environmental stuff’. So when people ask me why I chose a career in sustainability, I tend to freeze, as usually everyone’s idea of sustainability is different; which is an issue and challenge in itself.

It’s undeniable that there are plenty of issues in the world, but to me three stand out more than most; the climate crisis, global social injustices, and water poverty. These issues are all interlinked; a more just society will ensure that everyone has access to resources, and when people have better access to essential resources, we’ll be better suited to tackling the climate crisis as there’ll be less disparity between people and countries. However, to implement the solutions, it’s required that people act, do something together, and are lead to a common goal.

Working as a sustainability consultant allows me to work with any industry, and support businesses I might never have known existed otherwise. Work is diverse, challenging, and you continually learn new things. There’s never a dull moment due to constant research and innovation, and there’s always a creative element to helping businesses find their own solutions. The ability to impact and make a difference is huge.

This collaborative approach to working is something I love and something I thrive on.

What exactly do you do?

Work can be very varied depending on who we’re supporting, and what we’re supporting with.

On a daily basis a lot of what I currently do is analysis and reviews; I spend a lot of time in excel looking at, adding in and collating data. I have also been lucky enough to lead on taking our business through its own sustainability strategy process, developing my skillset to take on my own accounts in the future!

I also support on our workshops, help to run client interviews, contribute to a lot of phases across our services, manage our social media content, and have recently started looking after employee mental health in the business!

Why do you do what you do?

In wanting to do ‘something that helped people and the world’, working in sustainability seemed like a tangible solution to do something I enjoy, make a living from it, and solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Everything that I do supports the business’ purpose to Spark Positive Change and our shared vision that by 2025, we will be an exemplar business by continually pushing the boundaries of sustainability; empowering others to learn, transform, and thrive.

Working for a business that has a clear purpose, which also aligns with my own personal purpose – to help people and the world – is the best thing. What makes this even better is that this drive seems to be a common thread I’ve seen in people in this ‘industry’. I think that everyone I’ve met wants to help. We all want to do something to make a difference. And luckily that’s what I get to do, in my own little way, every single day. My job is to enable and help people embrace the changes they can make in their careers and businesses to support a sustainable future.

The truth is that sustainability in itself isn’t a career. Sustainability is in everything. No matter what job you do, ensuring that there’s a sustainable future is intrinsic. Social justice in sports, supply of precious metals in computing, access to medicine in hospitals. Whether you work in finance, education, deliver post, or answer phones, the job you do and the business you work for will have vast opportunities to make a world of difference.

If you’d like to know more about working in sustainability, or are interested in how your own purpose can work on a greater scale, feel free to email rhea.campbell-smith@justone.uk

Rhea Campbell-Smith is an Associate Consultant at JustOne.

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