The beginning of the journey

Sasha Segar joined Avieco as a Strategy & Reporting Intern in May 2019, but her outstanding performance and dedication lead her to an early and well-deserved promotion to an Analyst in August 2019. Sasha is an enthusiastic team member with a passion for sustainability and a constant desire to learn & grow. She is a valuable addition to Avieco’s growing team. Let us take you through Sasha’s journey here at Avieco from when she started till today.

What does a typical analyst role at Avieco involve?

As an analyst at Avieco, my goal is to become a reliable support to the team. Getting up to speed on the sustainability landscape in the UK, understanding Avieco’s key operations and consistently supporting consultants on their projects. From day one, you are immersed into the company culture – a history of the company, introductions to each service line, a crash course in the UK reporting landscape, internal procedures and more.

My experiences so far have been diverse, quickly exposed to a range of reporting frameworks: GHG accounting, CDP, ESOS all in my first months – across a range of small, medium and large companies, both UK and international. I have also been involved in supporting business development and marketing teams with their work.

Since joining, the team have encouraged and guided my journey, investing time and energy into my development. It is evident that the management wants everyone to eventually become an expert in your own right and a valuable member of the team. However you have to start somewhere, and being an analyst in Avieco feels like the right place to be!

What did you do before joining Avieco?

Prior to joining Avieco, I completed my BSc. Geography at King’s College London, studying abroad at the University of California – Berkeley. I focused my studies on physical geographies and how they integrate with mainstream narratives of sustainability and environment across a variety of stakeholders. Whilst studying in California, only a stone’s throw away from Silicon Valley, I was exposed to start-up culture and how organizations were disrupting the institutional narrative of CSR. I was inspired by the entrepreneurs instilling sustainability as core value as opposed to a side project.

Returning to the UK, I knew I wanted to join a firm that worked to not only challenge organizations to do better, but also support them in their sustainable transition.

Outside of my academics, my experiences have been broad and span across a variety of industries from financial services to hospitality. Most recently I worked with both UK based and international NGOs as they developed their corporate fundraising strategy.

What skills or knowledge from your previous experiences have been helpful in your job?

The foundation of all my sustainability knowledge stems from my degree, both tangibly and conceptually. Outside of developing both hard and soft skills, my geography degree has helped me understand the differing roles that environmental concern plays in setting both public and private agendas. I was also fortunate enough to be taught by professors who have helped inform and advise global agenda, be it IPCC reports or UNSDG’s. For this reason, I now have a strong interest in the way in which these targets filter down into mandatory and voluntary corporate strategy and compliance.

In combination, my degree has provided a wealth of additional context to the work that I do here at Avieco and has ensured my interest in the sustainability field (especially when I find myself referring back to the journals I used to dread reading!)

Working across a variety of industries both client and non-client facing, I can safely say, that my communication skills have strengthened from one experience to the next. Within each, I have been required to navigate client questions and requests, in some cases not having an answer – developing composure I never knew I had.

By experiencing work in various sectors, it not only ensured my desire to begin a career in the sustainability whilst applying, but also now I am in the thick of it, I am convinced of my decision.

What is the most exciting thing that happened while at Avieco?

There have been many exciting moments for me since joining Avieco. Being surprised with my Analyst contract, participating in my first client call as an intern, attending my first client meeting based on work I had produced, the list could go on. However, most recently, I have been very excited by the forthcoming rebranding that is well underway. It has given me the opportunity to really understand the values on which Avieco pride themselves on: brave, charismatic, intelligent & personable – all of which are reflected in each member of staff within the company.

Even as a new starter, I have been included in the rebranding transition, participating in brainstorming for the service line and helping to develop new content. It has been a unique insight into the future of the company and the trajectory senior management predict the company to follow. I am excited to be working in a company that is constantly evolving& and expanding when climate concerns are increasing in momentum across local and global scales. Furthermore, I am excited to see how my role develops in parallel.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

The learning curve has been steep.

All my prior knowledge of sustainability has been siloed into the academic space, understanding how scientific findings can translate across a variety of stakeholders – at the border of the environment and policy. Joining Avieco, my definition of sustainability in and of itself has both broadened and deepened. In the few months I have been here, I have been exposed to a wealth of clients – all of whom have different sustainability needs; several different reporting frameworks; excel spreadsheets longer than my arm; two dogs and a baby.

That being said, I have loved every minute of it. Avieco is a rare breed. I feel lucky to be surrounded by individuals whose knowledge of the sustainability field is endless. They inspire me to keep learning and keep challenging my thinking.

The learning curve may have been steep, but there was never a day where I felt I was being left behind.

What’s your advice to people starting a career in sustainability?

Know your story! If you have begun to notice the growing publicity and acknowledgment of climate concerns and sustainability in mainstream media, you can bet your bottom dollar your interviewer has too. So don’t be generic. Be prepared to explain what drives you towards a career in sustainability and explain what sustainability means to you. You may not have direct experience in the field, but you can demonstrate your interests in all manners of ways – don’t be afraid to get creative.

Don’t underestimate. Sustainability consulting may be values-based, but at the end of the day it is a business and the expectations are high. Don’t be surprised by the rigorous interview process. Show your interviewer your resilience and composure under pressure.

Be genuine. It may sound generic, but remember cultural fit is just as important for you as it is for the firm you are applying to.

Stay in the loop

more than a word.

We get that change is not easy. But we must be brave, challenge old ways, set new habits, embrace new thinking.