Meet edie’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2019: Olivia Green, Wessex Water

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: Olivia Green, sustainability coordinator at Wessex Water.

Meet edie’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2019: Olivia Green, Wessex Water

Before moving to Wessex Water in 2017

 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 Olivia Green, sustainability coordinator at Bath-based utility firm Wessex Water. 

How I got to where I am now:

“I went to university to study natural sciences, thinking that I wanted to study medical science and go into health research. But throughout my degree, I took modules on ecology and climate science, which opened my eyes to a world that I hadn’t really experienced properly at school.

“When university came to an end, I had to decide whether to stick with research or to go into the commercial side of things, which was hard, because I could see the positives of both options; in research, you’re looking for new ways of improving things, and in the corporate world, you’re putting those solutions into action.

“In the end, I felt like being in the commercial world was where I, personally, could make the difference. My first graduate job was with EcoSurety, where I helped businesses to comply with extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations. I was there three years and, at the same time, I studied part-time for my masters in integrated environmental management.

“After becoming a key account manager there, I was ready for a new challenge and wanted to move into a job with broader sustainability responsibility. When this role opened up at Wessex Water in 2017, I knew it would be a perfect fit.”

My biggest career achievement to date has been:

“Finishing my masters with a distinction is probably my biggest single achievement, because it was such hard work and there are times when it was overwhelming – but it was completely worth it, and is part of the reason I was chosen for my current role.”

The biggest challenge I have encountered along the way is:

“Something that is still challenging is convincing people that we need to be completely committed to every single part of sustainability.

“No business can get away with doing a couple of amazing projects and then sticking some band-aids on other attributes. There is a constant need to inspire and push people not just on issues they already care about, like zero-waste, but across the whole picture.”

If I had to describe my generation in one word or phrase, I would say:

“More engaged, more aware and more driven to make change than those to have recently gone before them.”

A successful 2019-20 for me looks like:

“The focus for me will be furthering staff engagement – accessing people who might not know what good work is being done outside of their day jobs and leveraging their support and insight.

“I also want to do the same sort of thing with our customer-facing work. I think it’s really important for us to get out there more and tell customers what we are doing on the environmental and social side of things. It’s something lots of people aren’t aware of, but which people are usually keen to learn about. Moreover, they can help us along in our journey by telling us what sustainability work they’d like us to do next.”

In five years’ time, I would like to be:

“Definitely still in sustainability, and knowledgeable and experienced enough to pass expertise on to other people. I’d say I’m quite ambitious and I’d love to move into a leadership position when the time’s right.”

Outside of my career, I enjoy:

“I’m quite a keen squash player and compete in the local league. I’d also say I’m a pretty keen sports fan in general. I support Arsenal FC, Bath Rugby and the England Cricket Team – and I love going to games whenever I can.

“Aside from that, I’m a big animal lover and dedicate a lot of time to my guinea pigs and my dog.”

My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business is:

“Sustainability is not optional. The sooner you make strong commitments, the more your organisation will benefit, because there is, frankly, so much to do – from energy efficiency and supply chain emissions, to staff volunteering.

“Don’t get left behind.”

My key piece of advice for any young professionals entering my industry today is:

“You can enter this field from so many different directions that, if you’re really passionate about sustainability, you should go for it. It’s important for the industry to be full of people who really care about the cause, so if you want to get involved, you’ll be able to find a way in.

“It’s also important to get chatting with your peers. Joining 30 Under 30 has helped me connect with a lot of people who are at a similar stage in their career but with different experiences to share – so networking is a great way to keep yourself informed and to challenge yourself.”

The full Class of 2019 series can be viewed here.

To stay in the loop for 2020 nominations for the 30 Under 30, email [email protected].

edie staff

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