Relocating to kickstart Acre's first regional office | Interview with Catherine Harris

02 December 2021 by Grace Coleman
blog author

Catherine Harris, our Director Sustainable Business - North America, has been recruiting Senior Sustainability Executives and Non-Executives for more than nine years. Three years ago, Acre opened the doors to our New York office and Catherine made the adventurous leap across the pond to new pastures. 

Swapping London for the dazzling lights of the Big Apple was a tantalising prospect but working in a new country is not without its challenges. Leaving friends and family behind with all the familiarity and home comforts was no mean feat but Catherine has relished the experience and reflects on how moving to New York was one of the best decisions she ever made.  

What made you decide to make the move over to the New York office? 

I had been working at Acre for around 6 years when we started to have the conversation about opening a New York office.  I was already starting to consider whether this could be a really good move for me as I have always had an unquenchable thirst for adventure, with a love for traveling and exploring new cities. Being in a new environment and feeling stretched and challenged in that way has always made me feel very alive.  

I had a very solid support network in London, I lived in a great apartment, I loved spending my Sundays going down to the allotment with friends and I loved my life. It was a hard decision to leave that behind but when there is an opportunity to do something new, you just don’t ignore it - New York was calling and it was the one of the best things I have ever done. 

Why New York? 

I have lived in foreign countries before, and I already had a couple of friends in New York so I felt that would make it an easier transition. It already had a reputation for being an amazing city and while I'm not a massive city person, I do love culture and am drawn to things like live music and all things cultural. That is why I lived in London for as long as I did, to make the most of the culture and lifestyle. New York is such a beautiful, vibrant city with lots going on and so much diversity. I love the fact that it is located in such a great part of the US with New England on the doorstep and some amazing hikes not that far away, granting so much access to the outdoors.  

What are the current opportunities in your market?  

For anyone looking to build experience in sustainability recruiting, there's never been a better time to start. The market is thriving, there is currently not a big emphasis on business development and most of our work is inbound which is highly unusual but is partially due to Covid. There's been a year of hiring freezes and now businesses are trying to rehire the people they lost. On top of that, they're hiring sustainability professionals because there has been a real shift in the landscape, with investment pressures, consumer pressures and to some extent policy and legislation means that businesses like never before are having to step up and start disclosing and thinking about how they become future fit. There is an incredible amount of need in the marketplace now for these sustainability individuals and there are few firms in the US who can do what we do. There's far too much work and not enough firms like Acre, in particular, with the expertise and network that businesses are looking for.  

What support would someone joining the US team receive?  

There are enough people in the business who have made the move, including Sofia and myself – so we would be well placed to support as you go apartment hunting, to provide advice on the best areas to live and also, we understand the practicalities of getting set up in a new city/country. We all have the knowledge and experience that we would be more than happy to pass on. So, anyone making that move isn't going to be alone when they come over, they will be strongly supported.  

What is the office culture like?  

It's an amazingly collaborative and a supportive, fun environment to work in. Everyone is approachable and we all want to help each other, which is so nice to see. Our team love to meet for drinks or go out for dinner and some even hang out together at the weekend, so we have great relationships both in and outside of work. We're about to see Bailie, one of our own team members, make the move from Houston to New York, and that's a big transition for her. But she has so much support and love from the team who are so excited to welcome her here.   

We're currently hiring across the following disciplines in our New York office: Sustainable Finance, Sustainable Business and Energy & Cleantech. Based in the heart of the financial district, you would be joining an incredibly hard-working team with a true passion for sustainability, and we're looking for purpose-driven recruiters to help us grow our impact.  
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