How to become an ESG-qualified subject matter expert?
With emerging interest in the topic of business sustainability and changing landscape of ESG, the job market opened up to new career opportunities – ESG-related jobs. The expectation is that the number of ESG jobs will continue to rise, which only boosts interest among individuals interested in the topic, wishing to take the opportunity of the yet unsaturated job market, or simply aiming to make a career switch.
The spectrum of job options is truly encouraging starting from an ESG strategist, a consultant, an analyst, a researcher, or a reporting and accounting specialist to more niche positions yet similarly attractive such as climate risk modeler or decarbonization manager.
To embrace the opportunity and make a career in ESG does not necessarily require a huge investment of time and resources. Naturally, a solid educational background is essential for each of the roles ensuring a firm basis for supplementing specific ESG qualifications. Such a combination is a good start towards initiating a career change and giving a beginning to something exciting. This is where The Corporate Governance Institute, a partner of Find My Programme comes into play-delivering certificates and diploma courses in ESG, designed by professionals and for professionals, equipping individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to build or advance their career in ESG.
The focus of a diploma course in ESG is not only to prepare you to become a qualified ESG leader but an impactful one, able to contribute to the boardroom decisions with a thorough understanding of Environmental, Social and Governance.
Individual ESG certificate courses concentrate on specialist skills and insights such as the origin of ESG, integrating ESG into business strategy, ESG reporting or risk management enabling deepening knowledge of specific aspects of ESG.
What are some of the ESG roles?
However, speaking of career opportunities, let’s have a look at some of the ESG roles and the prerequisites needed to be considered for the job:
ESG analyst- the role is to provide organizations with financial advice, taking into consideration such aspects as environmental impact, and public opinion about the company. Examining the annual financial reports of any organization and determining the sustainability of a potential investment venture, investigating multiple aspects of investment (primarily those associated with environmental, social and regulatory issues) describe best the role. ESG analysts are employed by private equity firms, wealth management organizations, banks and similar financial institutions making the job quite lucrative. One of the main requirements to become an ESG analyst is a degree in sustainability or environmental science, experience in project management, and strong people skills allowing analysts to talk to people in all areas of the business (stakeholders, executives, and board members) to gain a full picture, ensure transparency and deliver findings.
ESG consultant- the purpose of the role is to work with businesses to provide clarity and insights into their ESG-related issues. ESG consulting jobs cover a wide range of areas of expertise as ESG has an impact on the entire value chain and operations of companies. The role, therefore, requires industry experience and knowledge. A typical ESG consultant would need to have a degree in Environmental and Social Governance, Sustainability, Finance, Law, Economics or a related field on top of their industry experience and knowledge. Project management skills are highly desired in this role.
Engineering ESG roles – these are known to be some of the most exciting areas of ESG jobs. A typical ESG engineer would analyze problems and design solutions to problems like for example a company’s excessive energy use or plastic consumption. It is often desired to have skills in risk management and compliance management, as well as proficiency with Excel and data visualization software like PowerBI.
ESG researcher – is a role suited best for individuals with prior experience and a degree in science preferably related to mathematics, such as commerce, economy or finance, an MBA or a CFA. It is not uncommon to see some ESG researchers starting out with a degree in law, social sciences or business. Regardless of the educational background, an ESG researcher will need to handle reviewing and analyzing large amounts of data and presenting research findings and analysis to the management and clients. Project management skills and strong communication skills are highly valued for building and sustaining good relationships with strategic research partners.
ESG reporting – the role requires a strong financial background in accountancy or controlling with specific knowledge of ESG laws and regulations. The role may require setting up ESG reporting systems, building disclosures, controlling data on human rights, plastic consumption, equality or CO2 emissions, or other issues that call for ESG expertise. Other responsibilities may include developing the technical and scientific aspects of the system, building support within the corporate and financial sectors, and in coordination with the director and project director, building partnerships with other organizations and funders. Strong communication skills are essential as the role requires working in close cooperation with other business participants to design and optimize the implementation of monthly reporting on various ESG regulations.
Is it sustainable to work in ESG?
ESG investing is a relatively new field though projected to grow fast. Despite political pushback against ESG that has already begun, the concept is here to stay. The amount of attention, work, and effort put in fighting with and preventing changing disclosures and regulations inconsistency across countries and industries proves that the adoption of ESG is unavoidable. What speaks for consolidating ESG implementation efforts is establishing regulatory bodies like the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation in Europe -putting in place guidelines for ESG investment products, and The Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States - proposing amendments to rules and reporting forms to promote consistency and reliability in ESG ratings.
We live in a world that changes quickly and hardly ever new opportunities are something more than a relatively short-lasting trend. This is not the case with ESG. Therefore, becoming an ESG subject matter expert allows not only broadening job opportunities but also getting ahead of a new wave of professionals able to naturally run businesses in a sustainable way and understand it as a norm, not an enforced necessity.
Ellig Group LLC. (2023) “ESG Jobs: The Essential Guide” Available at: https://www.elliggroup.com/esg-jobs/ (Accessed: 15 March 2023)
www.pwc.nl (2023) “ESG (environmental, social, and governance)” Available at: https://www.pwc.nl/en/careers/business-areas/esg.html (Accessed: 15 March 2023)