What does a Sustainability Consultant do?

Published: 2021-06-28

Working with global challenges today for a brighter tomorrow – that’s what Linnéa Kjellberg does for a living. When leaving LUSEM, she dived right into the complex and ever-changing field of sustainability. But what does a sustainability consultant actually do? And what are Linnéa's advice for those who want to pursue a career in the field?

We asked Linnea a couple of questions about her job through email:

How did you end up as a sustainability consultant?

“I knew I wanted to work with a company and for a cause that motivated me. Little did I know I would end up with one of ‘The Big Four’ accounting firms! I found this position as a junior sustainability consultant within EY’s Climate Change & Sustainability Services (CCaSS) team. It ticked a lot of my boxes so I submitted my application, went to Stockholm for interviews and fortunately got the job.”

Can you share some insights on what your day-to-day tasks look like? 

”Our team provides advisory and assurance services related to sustainability. It’s very multifaceted, so let me share three examples of what we do: 

We assist our clients with boundary assessments of their emission sources and development of tools to calculate their greenhouse gas emissions. Almost all of our clients have mitigation of their climate impact as a material sustainability area, and in order to mitigate, they need to quantify their GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions to enable target setting and monitoring. My role on these engagements is to participate in client meetings to identify the emission sources of their operations and to customize a tool for the calculation of their corporate carbon inventory.

We perform assurance engagements to provide external review of client’s emission calculations and reporting. This consists of conducting process interviews with client representatives, looking into the calculations, reviewing underlying data from e.g. invoices and (in non-pandemic times) perform site visits at client sites.

A new major area within sustainability is Sustainable Finance and the EU taxonomy as a classification system of sustainable economic activities. We assist clients to identify what parts of their operations are covered by this taxonomy and investigate whether those activities meet the threshold values and other criteria listed to classify as eligible sustainable activities. My role on these projects is usually to analyse the client’s operations through interviews with representatives and review of documentation and then to investigate the details of the taxonomy within applicable activities.”

Which preconceptions about consulting would you say are false?

“A lot of my friends and myself were a bit intimidated by a consultancy role due to the preconceptions of extensive working hours. However, I would say that this is an incorrect one. Of course, it depends, but in my case, I can structure my days as suits me. Our team works on multiple projects simultaneously with various timelines and therefore the work load varies, but I have never experienced the “do not leave before your boss leaves”-mindset, and intense days or weeks are usually followed by some time to recharge.”

And which preconceptions would you say are true?

”The steep learning curve! Working as a consultant indeed implies to get experience and knowledge from various sectors and different types of projects very quickly. Especially when working as a sustainability consultant, since it is a field that changes and develops at an explosive pace at the moment.”

Read more tips from alumni: Pursuing a career in international development

Quick facts

Current position: Sustainability Consultant at EY Climate Change & Sustainability Services

Studies at LUSEM: BSc in Business and Economics and MSc in Innovation and Global Sustainable Development

Linnéa's top three tips to pursue a career within sustainability

1. Do not exclusively apply for sustainability-tagged positions, be sure to read role descriptions as sustainability increasingly becomes important for entire organizations, oppose to solely being an area for the ESG division

2. Niche your CV with courses or extra-curricular activities that shows you have a relevant sustainability profile

3. Listen in to webinars on upcoming regulations and initiatives within sustainability. There are a lot of open webinars on sustainability, particularly related to actions of the EU Green Deal such as the EU taxonomy. Listen and get to know what issues companies currently face and then impress your future employer with this knowledge on upcoming interviews