Meet edie's 30 Under 30 class of 2020: Jay Ham, Investec
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. First up: Jam Ham, sustainability programme manager at Investec.
The future of business leadership starts right here. Earlier this year, edie unveiled the second cohort of members of its 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 Jay Ham, sustainability programme manager at international investment bank Investec.
How I got to where I am now:
“I studied geography for my undergraduate degree and then took a master's in sustainability part-time. After graduating from my undergrad, I was freelancing full-time for a while, contributing to various sustainability projects across the charity and academic sector. Before I was offered a role at Investec, I was planning to continue doing that, but the offer was too good not to take up and I am so glad that I did.
“Working for Investec has been my first full-time sustainability role in the private sector. I manage all of the social and environmental programmes across 23 of our regional offices in the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands, Switzerland, India and New York, which is a really interesting role. When I first joined Investec, it was as environment programme manager on a short-term contract.”
My biggest career achievement to date has been:
“My interests now lie very much in environmental performance and how it can be improved by changing operations and behaviours, but my proudest achievement is more on the CSR side of things, through Investec’s response to Covid-19.
“As an organisation, we found that food security was going to be a major issue and affect families across the UK from the early stages of lockdown. We reached out to 19 food banks and 66 food distribution centres in the towns and cities where we have offices and then identified clients like Lidl, Dunns and Creed to set up supply chains for these food banks. Because of this work, they now receive all the food they require every week. Collectively, they have fed more than 164,000 people since March.
“I haven’t done this piece of work on my own – I recruited 27 members of Investec staff as volunteers, who now manage day-to-day relationships on a local level. Overall, it’s been an amazing experience.”
The biggest challenge I have encountered along the way is:
“After graduating, I had work experience, academic experience and voluntary experience but I still struggled to find employment because of the huge competition in the sector. I applied to something like 300 jobs and the continuous rejection is definitely something that affected my mental health.
“I know this is a fairly common problem; a lot of my peers have shared similar stories with me. It’s been worth it in the long-run, though, and I’m glad I managed to find my own way into this field.”
If I had to describe my generation in one word or phrase, I would say:
“The generation of active citizens.”
A successful 2020-21 for me looks like:
“It’s been a terrible year for most people but I hope that businesses and nations use the opportunity to build back better and make society more sustainable.
“I want to contribute to the collective drive to use this time as a bit of a reset. We’ve got the technology, the demand and the resources at our fingertips – we just need buy-in from those in positions of power and, equally, we need the public to get engaged as well.”
Outside of my career, I enjoy:
”Spending as much time as possible going on mini adventures – hiking, mountaineering, skiing, travelling and doing water sports.
“I’m also very passionate about youth development, so I try and combine these interests and sustainability by volunteering. I regularly volunteer with Camps International and the British Exploring Society to try and help under-privileged young people reach their full potential and connect with nature.”
My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business is:
“Take inspiration from the Lorax and realise that ‘unless someone like you cares an awful lot, nothing’s going to get better, it’s not.’
“Businesses need to realise the extent of the part they have to play and take action sooner rather than later. They need to reflect on this period in time and contribute to efforts to build back better.”
My key piece of advice for young professionals entering my industry today is:
“Network. I wouldn’t be in my current position or be able to talk about some of my projects and achievements without having utilised my network and not been afraid to ask.
“Also, build experience. Even if it’s a small voluntary programme or something you do part-time, or just for one week, these experiences all build up and can really help you.
“Lastly, don’t settle. It’s very competitive out there so it can be easy to settle for a job just to get by. While working and applying for jobs, don’t be afraid to hold out for an offer in a field or company that you’d really like to work within.”
The full Class of 2020 membership is detailed here.
To stay in the loop for 2021 nominations for the 30 Under 30, email firstname.lastname@example.org.