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Traditionally, professional success has been defined by financial compensation and title, often at the cost of low employee self-esteem and true job satisfaction. As workplace cultures seek to evolve, priorities shift in work-life balance and money simply isn’t enough anymore, it’s important that we, as individuals and businesses, re-examine our vision of success to sustain careers and retain talent.

Following on from SUMAS’ recent webinar with Mr. Giovanni Ciserani, SUMAS Director of Strategic Consultancy and former P&G Group President, we share his steps to get started on how to build the rewarding career you really want.

  1. Define what rewarding means to you
  2. Choose your education wisely
  3. Invest in your strengths
  4. Network based on quality not quantity, and make it personal
  5. Prioritize diversity
  6. Start with a degree in Sustainability Management

1. Define what rewarding means to you

No two people are alike, and each will have their own vision of what a rewarding career looks like. Finance will always play its part, but money is usually not a way to keep people satisfied in the long term. In a similar vein, titles, though somewhat important to help benchmark your progression, aren’t necessarily sufficient for you to make the choice that’s truly right for you.

The definition of rewarding must be a portfolio of different things to construct a broader vision of your success. Ask yourself the following questions to start reflecting:

  • In which type of working environment do you thrive?
  • Who are the people with whom you work best?
  • Which type of people do you find challenging and why?
  • How have you fit into dominant workplace cultures and is there anything you would change?
  • How do you want your job to be valued by a wider team?
  • Is there a type of feedback you find particularly beneficial?
  • What learning experience are you looking for and why?

Taking the time to develop this vision will allow you to lay solid foundations for a sustainable career that plays to your professional interests and personal values. All too often this enlightenment arrives too late for individuals and the shift from a previous, unsatisfactory definition of success can require monumental effort and discouraging compromise. That is not to say you shouldn’t try, but from our experience, starting early is the best way to start.

2. Choose your education wisely

Passion over prestige

One of the most common discussions we hear when it comes to education is conflict between what the student wants and what other influential sources believe is best. It’s not to say that passion is the only thing that matters; prospects are important to make sure that your education corresponds to what you wish to achieve, but don’t underestimate the great positive impact that exists when you do something that you like, and the negative and risky impact of doing things that you don’t like.

Fields of opportunity

When choosing your area of interest, it’s helpful to find a topic which shows a positive trend, aligning your education with the skills that are growing in demand. Declining areas aren’t necessarily no-go zones, but it certainly helps when your program is relevant to expanding opportunity.

For example, at SUMAS, our students don’t just study sustainability management because they have a passion for it, they know that when they choose it, they are pursuing an education in something that will soon be a job requirement in every position.


3. Invest in your strengths

Unfortunately, in many ways, society has created an incentive-based system where most of the feedback we receive is on things that we need to do better. In opposition to this, at SUMAS, we believe that the most important thing is not what you need to improve, but rather how well you know your strengths and what you can do better than most. It is much easier to be successful when you leverage your talents than when you try to work on your opportunities.

Complete this short exercise to test how well you know your strengths: Take two minutes to write down your areas of improvement. Great. Now take 4 minutes to write down your strengths. Time to compare your lists.

Believe it or not, most people don’t know what they are good at. Trust us when we say it’s important to take the time to find this. When you work on your weaknesses, you attempt to level; when you work on your talent, you prepare to stand out.


4. Network based on quality not quantity, and make it personal

Build your network with people that can share with you their own experience, people who wish to help you learn, people that would like to invest in your growth and most importantly, people who will be honest with you. Networking is not about meeting people who will open the door to your next position, but rather about collaborating with those who want to guide you to find the entrance yourself.


5. Prioritize diversity

Diversity drives talent because different people bring different talents. Successful teams are made up of people with a huge variety of strengths because these ultimately help you to learn who you really are, what you value and how that affects what you are going to achieve, both individually and collectively. Diversity in your workplace shouldn’t be a high priority simply because it’s supposed to be, but rather because it is an essential tool to allow working with people who can add meaningfully to the understanding of who you truly are.


6. Start with a degree in Sustainability Management

With 82% job satisfaction for jobs in sustainability and the undisputed fact that you are helping the world become a better place, it’s clear that this field is a hotspot for establishing a rewarding career. Opportunities are only set to grow as the spotlight shines in the direction of corporate activity and stricter rules are imposed to integrate of environmental conservation and social impact into business functions. Looking at this also from an employer’s perspective, as the sustainable values and behaviors of a company become a considerable priority for potential employees, attracting the best talent will be in-part due to how you, as a company, can show your engagement with tangible and transparent results.

Today, sustainability is a topic which is so complex and powerful that it is essential to have people with the right education and skills to be able to deliver on the commitment to greener operations. Sustainability isn’t really something that can be learnt on the job; you need to learn it with the experts and have access to the networks which can put you in contact with the right people. That’s where SUMAS comes in. Our programs are designed to offer an academic blend of business fundamentals with sustainability, combining in-depth theoretical knowledge with practical application for you to understand and demonstrate the actions and leadership required for realistic transition to more sustainable practice.

If you would like to learn more about the preparation for a career in sustainability, discover our Bachelor, Master and MBA programs or contact one of our Student Recruitment Managers here.

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