What are the top three must-have sustainability soft skills within the consultancy market?

07 December 2023 by Gurmeet Chopra
blog author

The consultancy market has been exceptionally tough in recent times, due to several factors including the slowing UK economy, hiring freezes and redundancies, yet there remains a constant stream of work for skilled sustainability consultants to ‘get the job done’.

I am having increased conversations with candidates and clients, where we have unpacked some of the most sought-after sustainability skills and discussed the importance of embedding them in the consultancy market.

Here are the three key skills within the consultancy sustainability space

1. Being commercially minded, with a purpose lens

Turning up at the office every day to tighten the sustainability function isn’t enough, but having astute business acumen and financial awareness will make strides.

It’s crucial to immerse yourself in up-to-the-minute business development to understand sustainable business practices - understand the latest research, trends and market changes, either online, or by reading books, studying for a sustainability course or attending forums.

A strong, curious, and commercial mindset will help influence others in the team and create a strong company culture as well as unlock new opportunities for long-term wins.

2. Relationship-Building

Being able to forge strong relationships builds deep-rooted trust which enables consultants to demonstrate that they are a trusted advisor to the companies requiring their services.

This will naturally encourage the client to return to the consultancy for reoccurring work due to an established and robust relationship and history of successful project delivery.

3. Project/Time Management

Consultancies deftly pick up new projects and complete them within a set timeframe and simultaneously work on multiple projects.

This leads to an acceleration in concise project delivery and increases the likelihood of future briefs.

Are companies still sourcing sustainability support from consultancies?

Whether you are a business owner or someone looking for their next role, if you are pondering this question, you probably already know the answer. Sourcing the right skillset for an organisation is challenging so companies lacking specific specialist knowledge are likely to call for external support.

It may come as a surprise that external talent is sourced at an uncertain time when finances are already stretched but according to research and data provider Source Global Research, clients are gearing up to use more consultancies and other professional services next year.

It doesn’t matter what level you sit at, the type of organisation you work for, or what market you serve; technical skillsets aside, these are fundamental skills that companies are looking for when hiring sustainability talent.

Acre recently hosted HR & People breakfast events in London and Amsterdam, which unpacked the challenges and opportunities of embedding sustainability talent within businesses. The events focused on how to attract, retain and develop top sustainability talent and revealed early insights from our 2023 Sustainability Census report. The census will be released for public viewing in the coming weeks, to gain a firmer understanding of what it's like to work in a sustainability-related profession today.

​Gurmeet sits on Acre's professional services team within the consultancy market. She undertakes a variety of assignments with clients, ranging from the consulting arms of multi-disciplinary consultancies, as well as Big4 advisory through to specialist SMEs helping large corporates transition towards net-zero carbon. Gurmeet previously recruited HR professionals in the B2B and professional services sector.