how these executives landed jobs in one of the fastest growing industries
Not only are companies employing more people in sustainability, they are looking to appoint more senior positions. Johnson says two major clients are looking to appoint a sustainability director for the first time.
This week CHIEF interviews three executives who have made the transition to sustainability.
Leanne Hui has seen the professional benefits of adding sustainability to her responsibilities.
Hui is responsible for group planning and environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting at shopping center operator Scentre Group. The second part of the role is to liaise with investors and a set of ESG agencies, which measure companies’ sustainability progress, about Scentre Group’s sustainability strategies and goals.
This is a key role, given the importance that investors place on sustainability.
Hui has assumed both ESG planning and reporting roles since January.
A chartered accountant with a business and law degree, Hui had held various positions in finance before being promoted to head of group planning in early 2021. A colleague worked in ESG reporting and suggested Hui take the opportunity to settle in the area, as they were moving to another position.
“It made me really think about my career. If I want to be a senior executive in the Scentre group, which is what I aspire to, I need to know more about the numbers.
“I thought ESG was actually a great way to touch all facets of business. It covers corporate governance, environmental compliance, risk management, human capital management, how how we interact with the community.
“I took this as an opportunity to expand what I could do and use it to demonstrate what I could add to the business,” Hui says.
Hui aspires to become a chief financial officer or chief financial officer.
“If you think about CFO roles, these are actually increasingly strategic roles. So what I’m doing now is really helping me develop that ability. Because responsible business is so ingrained in our business, it really increased my exposure to [other] areas, be it energy markets, corporate governance or facilities management,” says Hui.
“I think if people want to grow their careers, they need to think about integrating sustainability into existing roles to be successful. If you want to be a future leader in our business, [sustainability] has to be part of what you do in your current role,” says Hui.
Last year, Hui was selected as one of 15 emerging women leaders in a pilot program by Scentre Group. Each of the emerging leaders was asked to identify a business opportunity, which they presented to senior company executives at the end of 2021. Hui decided to present an initiative designed to help Scentre Group achieve its net zero goal.
Katharine Tapley has been Head of Sustainable Finance at ANZ since 2016. A lawyer by training (her initial ambition was to be a lawyer), Tapley has worked at ANZ for over 20 years in various product, origination and Bank.
Tapley joined the sustainability finance unit’s predecessor, the low-carbon solutions business, which was established in 2013. She came forward because, she says, her family had been farming for years. generations and instilled in him an appreciation for the environment.
“[As farmers], you depend on the presence of water in the springs in summer. You understand the weather conditions,” she says. In 2014, Tapley realized it had the banking skills to help ANZ and its clients structure financing deals to help them achieve sustainability goals.
Tapley’s team talks to the bank’s corporate clients about how they can effectively borrow money, through banking or capital markets, to fund green initiatives, such as installing solar panels , or benefit from achieving a defined set of sustainability goals. An example of the latter might be meeting an emissions reduction target.
Sustainable finance is a huge area of growth. According to Bloomberg New Energy Funding.
The International Energy Agency estimates that to reach net zero emissions by 2050, global investment in clean energy will need to more than triple by 2030 to $4 trillion per year.
ANZ’s sustainable finance team is growing at a fair pace. The 25-person team was down to just 15 employees a year ago, and this year Tapley plans to add about five more.
“We’re just inundated with requests for [corporate] customers to understand how they can build those deals and be invited into consortia to bring those deals to market,” says Tapley.
“We focused on bringing technical sustainability experience to the team. We have grown aggressively. We will continue to grow,” she said.
When asked why she liked the position, the senior banker replied: “It’s about having an impact and influencing the system,” she says, adding that the team can see other growth opportunities in areas such as project finance and M&A advisory.
Katie Dowling is Chief Financial Officer and Chair of the Finance and Investments Task Force at NSW Circular.
In 2019, after 30 years in banking, including 24 at Westpac, Dowling took a 12-month break to relax and think about his next move.
His time at Westpac included stints running the bank’s London treasury office, working on the St George takeover and leading corporate sales for interest rates, currencies and commodities.
“All my friends who left the bank said to me, ‘Don’t rush. Just breathe and figure out what your next move is,” says Dowling.
“I wasn’t sure it would come back to the same world, and I was really starting to get into the sustainability agenda.”
It wasn’t until Dowling, who was an avid sailor, took full circlean autobiography written by Ellen MacArthur, a long-distance sailor and pioneer of the circular economy, that she has decided what her next role should be.
“She’s actually one of the greatest sailors in the world and the first part of the book is about her amazing sailing experience.”
The second half of the book covers MacArthur’s retirement from competitive sailing to address the environmental damage she had seen while sailing the world’s oceans.
“She talked about the circular economy, which for me was setting everything up. She talked about new systems and the step change that is needed to solve the biggest problems of our time, which are climate, resource constraints and pollution,” Dowling said.
From there, she enrolled in an introductory circular economy course at Delft University in the Netherlands, read everything she could find online about financing the circular economy, and began talking about his plans to his network.
In September 2020, Dowling landed the position of Chief Financial Officer of NSW Circular, as well as chairing the organization’s finance task force, which is designed to educate the banking industry on the circular economy.
Years of risk thinking have enabled Dowling to explain to the financial industry how to measure and offset new sustainability risks.
“We are not that far from [a point] where every business has to reorganize to become sustainable, otherwise it can’t work. I really think we’ll get to this point a lot quicker than people anticipate,” Dowling says.
His advice to professionals looking to make the transition to a career in sustainability is to match their existing skills as closely as possible to the field they are moving into, so they are not starting from scratch or risking a significant salary reduction.
“I’m not 100% sure you should become a sustainability expert. I think you can bring a lot of skills into the sustainability program and make a difference. »
Why did she make the change?
“I need to love doing what I do every day. I loved the bank for 25 years, don’t get me wrong, and there are still elements of the bank that I love. But this piece was really important,” she says.
Ms Dowling adds that sustainability will be such an important issue over the next two decades that she felt she needed to develop expertise in the sector.
“The next 20 years will be about solving this crisis. You may continue to think of it as a side issue, not going to become business as usual, but I think sustainability will be built into the BAU,” Dowling says.