On Wednesday, October 31st, the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility (CESR) gave students the opportunity to explore a career in sustainability consulting with Kimberly Kosmenko, an experienced impact business consultant and Managing Director of Kosmenko & Co. The workshop covered the consulting process and gave participants insight into critical skills and the challenges a consultant might face, and a frame of reference for understanding not only how they might pursue a career in sustainability consulting, but a better understanding of what a sustainability consultant can do for a business.
Everyone needs an outside opinion
It is often difficult to diagnose a problem in an organization from within. Even if a company has a safe environment to discuss problems, an employee or manager may be too close to the problem to diagnose it. A consultant has the emotional distance needed to recognize an issue and address it.
In the workshop’s example case, the client wanted to bring the company’s sustainability goals to its procurement department but wasn’t exactly sure how that should be done. In this case, the consulting team ultimately created tools that the procurement department could use to assess the sustainability of their vendors. By being able to assess problems and create tools in a way that managers within a company are not always able to, sustainability consultants facilitate change. As businesses and consumers increasingly demand sustainable and responsible business practices, sustainability consultants can help companies adapt to the changing landscape.
Making a career in environmental consulting a possibility
This workshop gave a practical overview of how to pursue a career in consulting. From scoping work to communicating with clients, students were given a primer on what makes a consultant successful. A key part of that success rests on relationships and communication. While every consulting practice is different, Kimberly has found that most of her clients find her through referrals. To be successful in the workshop’s example case, Kimberly had to quickly understand her client’s needs and capabilities. The ability to communicate well and cultivate relationships is critical, both in finding clients and making those client projects a success.
A growing trend
The consulting skills workshop is among the many professional development opportunities offered by CESR. CU Boulder has a rich history of student activism around sustainability, such as the student founded Environmental Center. In the business school, students are looking for opportunities to make a positive impact in their future careers, and CESR is helping students find those careers.
To get incorporate positive impact in your career or to get a taste of sustainability, get involved with CESR by joining the student club CESR Fellows, attending an event, or pursuing the Social Responsibility and Ethics Certificate.