by Luke Poliszcuk
The new year has started with a bang. Most people were glad to put the doom and gloom of 2009 behind them, and 2010 has unashamedly launched itself into center stage. After a year of deep hibernation bordering on torpidity, all around there are signs of economic recovery and refreshed, revitalized business activity, and the sustainability industry is no exception.
Last year large numbers of highly qualified professionals suddenly found themselves out of work through no fault of their own in what was definitely not a job-hunters’ market. However, despite the climate the general feeling was overwhelmingly positive. Suddenly ‘green’ companies were swamped by inquiries from finance professionals, marketers, MBA graduates, and senior managers about careers that extended beyond the usual sixfigure fulfillment and provided things that probably had not been thought about in those circles since the 1960s, such as self-development and self-fulfillment.
There is no doubt that as the economy picks up again and jobs begin to recover, many of those who started thinking seriously about doing something better with their lives will go back to their everyday jobs. On the other hand, there is also a large number of people who have taken the lesson to heart: money only gets you so far, and at the end of the day it is not those who have the most at the end of their life that win, it is those that get the most out of life that achieve true satisfaction.
This year will be full of excellent opportunities for anyone that is genuinely interested in greening his or her career or company. As with any industry, the best way to get a head start in sustainability is by networking with leaders in the field. And because green business is such a hot topic, there are plenty of conferences and events taking place at which participants can rub shoulders with business leaders, academics, social entrepreneurs, and representatives from NPOs, NGOs and government, all in one place.
These conferences and events provide great forums for networking with sustainability leaders, whether your purpose is for business, knowledge or career advancement. Around the world, dozens of conferences with tens of thousands of participants are kicking off again this year, with some notable upcoming events including the Sustainable Opportunities Summit in Denver, March 2–4, the 3rd Annual Carbon Trade China 2010 in Beijing, April 15–16, and the TBLI Conference Asia 2010 at the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo Chinzan-so in Tokyo, May 27–28.
Attending events is one way to meet green leaders, but if you really want to network your way into a new career then nothing beats getting involved in the organization and volunteering. eQualC Sustainability Communications holds a green leaders forum each month at the British Council in Iidabashi. These are free monthly bilingual learning and networking events for leaders in green business, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and sustainability, covering topics such as cleantech and renewable energy, the environment and climate change, and biodiversity, food, water and agriculture.
Net Impact Tokyo is an active branch of the international organization and runs events in Tokyo such as ‘high-impact’ happy hours and corporate social responsibility (CSR) forums. ‘Green Mondays’ and ‘green drinks’ are monthly networking and learning events in English and Japanese respectively. The CSR and environment committees of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) run regular sustainabilityrelated events, and last year’s ‘green marketplace forum’ had some of the most distinguished speakers of any green event in Tokyo.
Volunteers and speaker suggestions are welcomed by all of the above organizations, and membership of Net Impact or the ACCJ extends a number of benefits beyond networking opportunities. So this year take the time to reach out and extend your network, get involved in green activities and organizations, and see what a difference it makes to both your career and your life.