8th Annual Green Jobs Forum: Green Economy Event Recap

8th Annual Green Jobs Forum: Green Economy Event Recap

By Mustafa Adel Amer

The 8th annual Green Jobs Forum was held virtually on the 26th of August 2021.

The Green Jobs Forum, held annually, is designed to showcase a variety of opportunities in the green financial marketplace. The event this year began with Janine Finnel, Executive Director of Leaders in Energy introducing keynote speakers Peggy Brandon and Beth Offenbacker.

Keynote addresses

Janine began by discussing how environmental science is driving the shift to a green economy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. She explained how World War II led the United States to boost manufacturing and develop science quickly and collaboratively with the support of the entire nation. This transformed the economy from a civil-based to a defence-based economy. Janine emphasized the need for a similar shift to meet current climate goals.

Peggy Brannigan, Director of Global Environmental and Sustainability at LinkedIn, then discussed key takeaways from the IPCC ‘s most recent climate report and explained how businesses are contributing to the climate solution through integrating sustainability within their design, manufacturing, and service objectives. As businesses are increasingly on a mission to ‘green‘ their supply chains, more talented professionals are needed within the green economy. According to Peggy, the fastest-growing categories of green skills over the past three years are carbon neutrality, photovoltaics and ecosystem management. In addition, the number of job postings in renewable energy is expanding, as at the beginning of 2021 the number of jobs in the sector exceeded the postings in the oil and gas sector.

Dr. Beth Offenbackei next shared tools on strategies for finding a green job and presented 3 key goals a job seeker should keep in mind: First, have a strategy. Second, have a plan. Third, commit and act. The idea is to position yourself by identifying a sector within the green economy and then finding organizations and players in that sector. She says it is your job to research the problems within an organization and then create a strategy to position yourself as the best solution. Networking, leveraging your experience, and acting on the must-haves for the positions in the organizations you are targeting would facilitate the journey.

Panel discussion

Beth then introduced the panel’s moderator, Francois Giraud, a marketing and business development professional with extensive experience internationally. He has also worked within numerous business sectors including energy and tech. With degrees in marketing and chemistry, he is the Digital Marketing Director for Leaders in Energy.

Francois introduced the panelists: Gleniss Brown, a program manager at DC Sustainability Energy Utilities (DCSEU)that helps DC residents and businesses develop strategies to conserve energy, and developer of a program to help those seeking entrance to the green economy; Doug Abbott, a program manager at Alliance; Debbie Prenatt, market manager in sustainability at M. Holland Company; and Evan Dent, an engineering intern at New Energy Equity.

The panellists were asked to share their job search experience and describe their journey to land a green opportunity.

Debbie said she was introduced to the green economy and sustainability through work in the healthcare sector. She then joined the Leaders in Energy Program, Green Career Momentum, which helped her understand the strategies for moving into the green sector. When her position was downsized during the COVID-19 pandemic,  the decision to move to a position in sustainability became an easier decision. She emphasized that once you decide to make the move, identify transferable skills that you can bring into a green job. In response to a question from the audience about the need for an advanced educational background, she replied that in green careers the focus is on collaboration and interdisciplinary work and that she does not have a science or engineering background. Doug added that he also does not have a degree in environmental science and engineering and emphasized that building a strong story to explain why the work is important to you is important. Evan said that earning certifications and adding coursework would help as well.

Doug described the details of his journey including a master’s degree focused on education but still keeping his eyes on sustainability to solve climate challenges. He worked in a high school teaching kids to live sustainability. He lost his job at the school and later he found out about the Workforce Development Program at the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU), where he worked as an environmental officer for 3 months. This internship helped him develop the skills he needed for a green career. He also learned to make use of networking opportunities and advises those seeking a job in the green economy  to “make the effort to network even if uncomfortable.” His current job is to implement an energy efficiency curriculum in 10 US states, combining his career interests in education and sustainability.

Doug advises professionals who want to shift to the green career to decide on how they will handle leaving a job where they are comfortable and further stressed the importance of having clear goals, especially as this will make it easier to seek the help of others.

Francois next asked Evan to share his career path. Evan had a degree in chemical engineering and started his career in the oil and gas industry where he had the chance to travel and meet international customers. He returned to the United States and started to seek entry into the green economy. He discovered the Green Career Workshop that explained how to enter work in sustainability and the circular economy. During COVID-19, his company downsized, and he took the opportunity to develop his skills in sustainability and energy, including through virtual conferences. Eventually, through a connection with a university professor, he was introduced to a hiring manager and landed a job.

Similar to Doug, Evan suggests interacting with professionals in the green career through sharing articles, meetings, asking questions and conducting informational interviews to get insights on what can suit you and where you can add value to the green economy. Evan thinks completing certifications and honing is a good way to showcase your commitment.

Francois summarized this discussion by saying that “crisis time leads to amazing opportunities as it acts as a catalyst to make great things happen.”

Mustafa Adel Amer is a Petroleum Engineer and natural gas analyst with +8 years of experience in the upstream Oil and Gas Developed and contributed to projects that increased operational efficiency, restructured work processes, protected the environment. Holds two master’s degrees in Petroleum Engineering and Innovation Management.

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