Preparing for a future sustainable career
As sustainability issues that combine economic, social, and environmental dimensions, climb higher on the agenda, it is a good idea to get a head start and apply the knowledge in a practical setting before graduation. One possibility is to engage in the School of Economics and Management's own sustainability initiatives, another is to do consulting work through the Lund University consulting agency Lunicore.
“For quite some time, we have noticed that students ask about their possibilities to work in sustainability after graduating from LUSEM. Simultaneously, there is a great demand for sustainability thinking across all industries” says Martina Oxling, project manager at Sustainable Future Hub at LUSEM. She continues:
“Our students will during their work-life be uniquely positioned to make change happen, as so many will work in management. As sustainability is to be integrated at every level of an organisation, sustainability awareness is becoming more and more of a prerequisite, regardless of organisation or position. The opportunity Lunicore offers is compelling, as students work on actual assignments in the field of sustainability and also influence the business world before they graduate. Time is short when it comes to sustainable transformation, and we are in 'the decade of action' where the UN calls for accelerating sustainable solutions to all the world's biggest challenges.”
Applying theory into practice
Two students who have put theory to practice through Lunicore, Lund University’s consultancy firm, are Rebecca Grenthe and Jessica Paulsson. Both feel that their education has laid the groundwork to succeed in the sustainability projects, but it was a great experience to try their wings. Every project they have worked on has not been aimed at sustainability, but more than either of them anticipated. Having a sustainability perspective is expected for many market analyses, competition surveys and customer segmentation.
What kind of project did they get to do?
Rebecca Grenthe feels that “the demand for sustainability solutions comes from the customers rather than the companies themselves, but contrary to my belief the biggest sustainability project actually was initiated by the company”.
She and her partner started off doing a benchmarking analysis and then they looked at how clients, suppliers, competition, and key players in other industries motivate and develop their sustainability work. The second part of the analysis was a customer survey focused on collaboration through the value chain – but also to help customers understand the importance of a more sustainable product. Her project group provided insights on how the company can communicate their sustainability work to spread and increase awareness and continue with the sustainable product.
Lessons from working with sustainability
Jessica Paulsson and Rebecca Grenthe agreed that the best part of working in sustainability was to see that their work was making a difference in the companies they worked with. They also agreed on what would be the most challenging part, if sustainability reports turn to greenwashing. Fortunately, they never worked on any companies that were disingenuous, Jessica Paulsson says:
“It has never happened to me, but it would be my absolute nightmare to work with a company that engaged in greenwashing, where the sustainability work was not purpose-driven.”