Meet edie's 30 Under 30 Class of 2019: Ashley O'Neill, Hilton
This series profiles the members of edie's 30 Under 30 - a nomination-based community of 30 hugely talented young sustainability and energy professionals who have already achieved great things or are showing fantastic promise. Next up: Ashley O'Neill, senior energy and compliance manager at Hilton.
The future of business leadership starts right here. Earlier this year, edie unveiled the inaugural members of its brand new 30 Under 30 initiative – a group of bright and ambitious rising sustainability and energy stars from across the UK.
After being nominated by their colleagues and impressing judges from Global Action Plan and the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (ICRS), this cohort of youthful visionaries now benefit from an unrivalled opportunity to connect with one another and co-develop solutions to some of the most pressing environmental and social challenges of our time.
In this weekly series, we will be sharing their stories and successes beyond the group, giving edie readers insight into the minds of those who will be leading the charge in creating the low-carbon, resource-efficient economies of the future.
This week, it's the turn of Ashley O'Neill, senior energy and compliance manager at global hotelier Hilton.
How I got to where I am now:
“At school, geography was always one of my favourite subjects, and I was fascinated by the world around me. During my A-levels, that evolved into an interest in climate and weather, which led to me studying meteorology and climate science at the University of Leeds.
“During my degree, I expanded my knowledge in the energy and climate change field, which enabled me to undertake an internship at the Department of Energy and Climate Change and to focus my dissertation on the impact of climate change on the UK’s energy mix.
“From this, I knew the energy profession was where I wanted to be. I graduated in 2015 and was delighted to obtain an entry-level role at Hilton Corporate as an energy analyst, where I could combine my passion for data analytics with my interest in energy and climate management.
“I’ve had the opportunity at Hilton to progress to a senior role in a short period of time, so I’ve worked on several projects which make me feel really valued and also challenged.”
My biggest career achievement to date has been:
“Simply having the opportunity to do something I’m passionate about in a high-profile company that really cares about its impact and its team members.
“More specifically, I’m proud of my work in performance tracking and target setting around utility consumption and cost. Hilton manages more than 250 hotels in more than 50 countries in the EMEA region, meaning I can play a part in delivering carbon reductions, cost savings and financial return on a regional scale. A particular highlight here has been developing high-level reporting tools for our energy procurement strategy, which helps the business to encourage green energy contracts where viable.
“I’m also responsible for environmental compliance and reporting across areas such as energy, carbon and packaging waste.”
The biggest challenge I have encountered along the way is:
“With my role having such a focus on energy procurement, a key challenge is that sometimes, impact falls outside of our control.
“Changes in the markets, politics and economic outlooks can all impact our plans and we can’t always predict these changes. What we can do is put strong processes and procedures in place to manage these situations.”
If I had to describe my generation in one word or phrase, I would say:
“Determined to make a difference”.
A successful 2019-20 for me looks like:
“Hilton is the first major hotel company to institute science-based targets and, with the UK Government’s declaration of a climate emergency, the next few years will be really crucial for us to make a difference. Hilton has committed to halving our global environmental impact by 2030, and we’re fully focused on ensuring we’re able to meet this ambitious target.
“A lot of my focus will be working with our hotels to collaborate, and share best practice and advice on how to implement effective changes at an operational level across Engineering. This will really help leverage results.”
In five years’ time, I would like to be:
“Helping drive rapid progress towards our ambitious 2030 targets, with a focus on the importance of working together across the value chain.
“Reaching our goals will require innovation, technology, analytics and intelligent procurement, and I hope to be contributing to the strategies and solutions which will get us to the targets and beyond.
“I also believe creating a diverse workforce is essential and would like to be spending more time encouraging this both within my team and across the industry by creating opportunities for young people and promoting women in engineering.”
Outside of my career, I enjoy:
“Travelling. Given that I’m trying to be more mindful of my carbon footprint and am also saving to buy a house, I’ve recently spent time exploring some of the hidden gems the UK has to offer.
“I love being outdoors and camping, but equally, spending time with my family and friends. I try to lead a healthy lifestyle and have recently picked up an old hobby of mine – tap dancing – again.
“I’m also passionate about encouraging women into the engineering and energy industry. I’ve shared my story at external conferences and events and being part of the 30 Under 30 has given me even more of a platform to highlight the importance of diversity in my sector.”
My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business is:
“Collaboration and engagement are key.”
“We need experts to set the targets and to communicate them, but to get there, we need everybody’s support. At Hilton, this extends not just to our team members, but to hotel owners and guests as well.”
My key piece of advice for any young professionals entering my industry today is:
“If you’re looking for a career that is varied, challenging, exciting and offers the chance for you to make a difference – you’re in the right place.
“Bring your passion, ideas and willingness to learn, and your role will become what you make of it.
“Whether you’re covering engineering, energy management, compliance, CR or communications, remember that this is a growing industry which requires people with the confidence to ask questions, make decisions and solve problems."
The full Class of 2019 series can be viewed here.
To stay in the loop for 2020 nominations for the 30 Under 30, email firstname.lastname@example.org.