Meet edie's 30 Under 30 class of 2019: Kathryn Ebrey, Arcus FM
This new 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: Kathryn Ebrey, environment and sustainability manager at Arcus FM.
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 Kathryn Ebrey, environment and sustainability manager at facilities management and engineering maintainence firm Arcus FM.
How I got to where I am now:
“At college, I studied biology, environmental science and psychology – I knew I wanted to pursue my interest in the natural environment, but wasn’t really sure where to start, because I wasn’t aware of all the career opportunities in this space.
“At that point, I didn’t think university was for me, but after several careers advice meetings, I changed my mind and enrolled at Nottingham Trent for a BSc in environmental health.
“Ironically, after finishing that degree, even though my interests were more on the environmental management side of things, my first role was in health and safety at Arcus.
“I didn’t want to pass the opportunity up, despite it not being completely within my passion area – and that’s really paid off. During my six years here, my role has evolved from solely focusing on health and safety, to more of an advisory role, to an audit and management position, and finally to the position I’m in now.”
My biggest career achievement to date has been:
“One of them is definitely being the first person to take up the role of environment and sustainability manager within Arcus.
“The main thing I’d highlight within that is being able to build a sustainability awareness culture within the business. Through perseverance and through the creation of my current position, I’ve been able to get people talking about the environment and considering the environmental impact of their day-to-day decisions – both at work and in their personal lives. I hope that’s something which others have noticed too and which will continue into the future.”
The biggest challenge I have encountered along the way is:
“Shifting the balance of operational priorities.
“Historically, management teams in operations have broadly been focused on costs and compliance. Moving that focus to cover environmental aspects as well, while balancing the fact that no business is going to ever completely forget about the cost side of things, is something I still find challenging – even though sustainability factors are starting to creep up the priority list.
If I had to describe my generation in one word or phrase, I would say:
A successful 2019-20 for me looks like:
“Bringing Arcus a lot further in its carbon management journey.
“One of the big projects I’m working on at the moment is implementing a greenhouse gas (GHG) monitoring and reporting framework. That will be built in line with national standards and go beyond the legal requirements that we need to meet, like ESOS and SECR.”
In five years’ time, I would like to be:
“My current role is standalone, so it would be great to work alongside a team – ideally managing some, if not all, members myself.
“My focus is on really embedding sustainability into the business culture and moving beyond the compliance element. I really believe in integrated strategies, so I’d love to be working to make sustainable business strategies rather than a separate sustainability strategy.”
Outside of my career, I enjoy:
“The countryside; I have a dog and I love going on walks with him, exploring. I feel very lucky to live in the UK, amongst so many areas of natural beauty.
“I also enjoy running – I find it’s a good release after the stresses of trying to save the world – and am passionate about food.”
My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business is:
“Make a pledge or set a target that pushes your business out of its comfort zone.
“If you think a target is easily achievable, you should consider pushing yourselves a bit harder, because we all need to be moving much faster if we want to achieve a truly sustainable future.
My key piece of advice for any young professionals entering my industry today is:
“Believe in yourself. Get to know yourself and keep reminding yourself of, and promoting, your passions and values.
“Part of my role a few years back was to deliver environmental awareness training to senior members of our business, and one of the pieces of feedback I got was that the course content was interesting, but that I came across as apologetic for the messages I was delivering.
“Having reflected on that, I think it’s probably because sustainability professionals can often be branded as ‘tree huggers’, and over fears that directors aren’t as engaged in the topics we cover. But we should never apologise for raising awareness around something we’re passionate about.”