Traditional consulting involves using the expertise of outside professionals to help an organization improve its performance. A management consultant provides detailed advice, objective insights, and recommendations to a group of people working towards a particular goal.
By contrast, today’s corporate executives are surrounded by stakeholders who demand a rapid rise to the company’s sustainability and ESG goals. With a global pandemic exacerbating the looming climate crisis, companies are being forced to rethink what they have been doing for decades. Some companies have already worked with ESG expert staff as part of their strategies. Most of them start by looking for management consultants, which means we need more management consultants with ESG experience now.
In sustainability management consulting, the consultant assists the organization in adopting and developing ways to make it more environmentally and socially responsible. There may be additional challenges when a consultant is tasked with taking into account the potentially conflicting needs of people, the environment, and the organisation.
In recent years, large companies have begun to embrace the role of Chief Sustainability Officers (CSOs) and the value they bring to achieve the highest rate of long-term growth. While there are still limits to understanding what sustainability really embodies in the corporate realm, stakeholders are more willing to know the benefits that await them when sustainability is included in a top-down approach.
PGS Consults is the advisory arm of Presidio Graduate School, helping clients implement and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To meet the postgraduate students’ need for a taste of counseling as they delve into their studies, PGS Consults launched the Consultancy Shadowing programme. In this program, students attend project meetings where sustainability management consultants discuss project outcomes. In doing so, students see that their knowledge is applied in a real environment.
With a global pandemic exacerbating the looming climate crisis, companies are being forced to rethink what they have been doing for decades.
The software provides first-person perspectives on different forms of ESG management, ranging from carbon accounting (bands 1, 2, and 3) to materiality assessments. For the selected participants, they see engagement between different thought leaders with varying levels of experience, each giving fresh insight into how the Systems lens can be applied to the challenge at hand.
We checked in with some PGS students to hear about the innovative experiences they have to make an impact while studying in their degree programmes.
Studies reveal that companies encourage students to enroll in a certain level of a curriculum related to sustainability, or encourage them to obtain a degree in the same field.
When it comes to ‘green’ degrees, there are many avenues one can go down. For those looking to become a high-level executive or consultant, there are skills that will lay the foundation for this career path. These include: Organizing and facilitating effective meetings. Addressing the objectives of ESG clients without washing out the environment; Conduct interviews and analyzes with stakeholders; And make brief presentations to executives.
Many schools across the United States are collaborating to create more curricula that take social justice and the health of the planet into account. Whether you have a passion for law or entrepreneurship, the benefit of a green career is the massive overlap of skill sets one can develop through prior experience. Through the Consultancy Shadowing program, selected students will gain insights from consulting practitioners ranging from recent graduates and graduate students to seasoned experts.
“This shadow program gives us a chance to engage with some of what we’ve learned in context, and perhaps a chance to help move the needle a little bit in the process,” said Taylor Seward, a first-year MBA student in sustainable solutions.
Each semester, up to 10 students are accepted into the program. They can be newly admitted students as well as students in the final semester before graduation. To stay loyal to inclusivity, students from Presidio’s MBA and Master in Public Administration programs are encouraged to apply.
The program is a full semester term, with a new batch being accepted in the following semester. Participants are encouraged to attend up to three project meetings between consultants, observe their ideas and contribute to the process. Students will also complete a tailored course, Management Consulting Skills for Sustainability Professionals, to supplement the knowledge gained in the field.
Upon completion of the course, participants meet with Managing Director of PGS Consults Pamela Gordon to discuss expert opinions on the winning proposal that they complete by the end of the course, mimicking a critique of a consulting proposal. Participants are also alerted to training opportunities with our clients. When the semester is over, they leave the program with a good understanding of what sustainability management consulting is, as well as the components that gather in real time for practitioners in the field.
“My expectations were exceeded with the comprehensive management consulting skills course for sustainability professionals. It showcased real-world applications of sustainability management consulting as well as consultants’ perspectives on how to work with clients on different topics. Being able to create my own proposal in the MSc candidate said Stevie Roberts, Another in a first-year MBA in sustainable solutions and a student employee at Presidio, “The end of the course was the piece of resistance.”
The Graduate School has long been lauded for providing a deeper understanding in specific areas, greater job opportunities and salary increases. While these are noteworthy factors to consider when pursuing a graduate degree, today’s students continue to express their desire to prioritize the resources of our planet and the people who depend on them.. Learning methods for increasing economic growth with an eye to social justice and environmental responsibility require an education that has this focus at the core of its teaching, requiring critical thinking and discussion beyond what is provided at the undergraduate level.
This shadow program gives us a chance to interact with some of what we’ve learned in context, and perhaps a chance to help move the needle a little bit in the process.
Millennials and Generation Xers are the largest consumer base in the country, and they look to business as a tool for doing good. According to a report by Harvard Business Review, the number of graduate students in the United States has tripled since the 1970s, with 27 percent of employers requesting or preferring master’s degrees for jobs that were traditionally suitable for an undergraduate degree.
When professionals decide to embark on the sustainability path, they know that it will require a lot of focus and flexibility. PGS Consults provides a way for participants in the Consultancy Shadowing program to learn about sustainability consulting as an area, and how it touches many organizations and industries.
“It was great to be able to learn from everyone on the team. I really loved understanding the process and the steps it takes to go through the consulting process,” said Alicia Levine, MBA candidate in Sustainable Solutions.
Our participants are a growing and enthusiastic group, looking to be in a community that creates conversations with each other and with the organizations they work with. As companies continue to embrace the advantages of transparency and flexibility, our students also value these attributes and appreciate how they are communicated with PGS consultants, as well as with each other.
Each year, up to seven students are offered jobs in sustainable management consultancy. As an institution focused on the intersection between sustainability and social justice, Presidio Graduate School remains true to our promise to train a new generation of change-makers, one student at a time.