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Unveiling Clim8 Careers: Q&A with Alice Leguay, Clim8’s CCO

November 12 2020 - Clim8 Team Inside Clim8

We are very excited to announce the launch of our new platform with our community: Clim8 Careers, the new home for careers and businesses with purpose.

Our CCO Alice Leguay explains the why and the magic behind our new venture.

Alice, let’s start from the end. You joined Clim8 Invest as Chief Commercial Officer in January 2020 and launched Clim8 Careers, the new platform for sustainable recruitment, only 9 months later. What motivated you and the team to launch this new venture? 

From the very beginning of Clim8 Invest, Duncan constantly had lots of fantastic ideas for the Clim8 roadmap. Top of the list was building a sister platform for people who want green jobs with a mission. He asked me if I would like to lead this project and I grabbed the opportunity with both hands!

The timing was ideal. As we went into lockdown last March, I was in the midst of a fantastic course on Business Sustainability, as I felt I lacked cornerstone knowledge to understand key issues around climate change and sustainability, which prevented me from exercising any critical thinking.

The lockdown created a strong bond and cohesion in my cohort. We started asking each other why we had chosen to learn about sustainability. Was it with a view to upskill in an existing job, or opening an entirely new door professionally? 

These 150 professionals of all ages and backgrounds all cared about embedding sustainability in their jobs. And yet, we couldn’t find an online destination to source or discuss sustainable jobs. A perfect case study for Duncan’s idea.

On LinkedIn, and all other platforms in fact, ‘sustainability’ is sometimes used as a skill, when it features at all. Not exactly an effective filter for your dream job search.

At Clim8 Invest, we had just launched our first crowdfunding round and people were signing up to our waiting list in droves. A number of our new investors were from my course cohort. We put two and two together: our new community members cared about investing their savings sustainably; and they also cared about leveraging their work and professional skills to make an impact in the fight against climate change. 

You have 19 years of experience growing businesses across Finance, Tech & Fintech. Your own career started at Morgan Stanley on the High Yield desk, where you spent 6 years. What skills and knowledge do you still leverage from this experience in your day to day job, and what are some of the transferable skills you’ve used later in your career?

I was very fortunate to spend those years at Morgan Stanley. After my team recovered from the shock of having to teach a history grad finance from scratch, they provided an incredibly rich experience.

Of course I learned about finance. The big picture of funding a company via the capital markets, and the micro view via the complexity of structured trades. Thanks to my colleagues’ patience and the ongoing education I was able to access there, I can read the Financial Times without looking up too many words!

I find the macro picture fascinating: how finance makes the world go round; understanding how a company, ecosystem or country is financed has so many ripple effects itself is incredibly important. But I had started working there by chance to a large extent, and I didnt feel this was a conscious and driven career choice. 

Another skill still with me to this day, is picking up the phone at lightning speed. Not sure I can call it ‘transferable’ though.

In 2012 you co-founded a crowdsourced salary data platform, Emolument.com. How did you transition from your career in finance to roles in business development and marketing? And what would you recommend to other professionals looking for a similar pivot?

Prior to that experience, I had been thrown in at the deep-end – again – by picking up a project for a large digital incubator. Exponential growth at speed. 

I learned on the job, leveraging my team’s knowledge, reading up on growth models and strategies. The work ethic, engrained from my years in finance was extremely useful at that point: I could show up and deliver without expert knowledge. Using my intuition, energy, leaning on relentless teamwork and learning. 

As I then moved on to build my own business with my fantastic partners, I knew I could venture into an entirely new professional realm, counting on good strong common sense and passion beyond all else.

Pivots are a joy, in my experience. I would encourage embracing them, not only as a journey of self-discovery, but also as a chance to uncover a new industry afresh, leveraging earlier learnings.

With Clim8 Invest, you’re on a mission to have a positive impact on the climate crisis by moving billions of pounds of capital into clean energy and truly green, sustainable companies. How do you think human capital can be best leveraged to have a dent on the climate crisis, and what role can Clim8 Careers play in it?

Most of us feel some degree of climate anxiety. It’s such a set of ‘wicked’ issues upon which we feel powerless to have an impact. Building Clim8 Invest is a clear signal to the retail investor, you and me, that they can make a difference with their wallets. 

Along the exact same thinking, we can drive businesses to make fundamental changes, not only to the way they operate, but also push them to transition their strategies towards a zero carbon economy. 

Businesses need human capital to operate. They want to recruit the best and brightest. If we, as employees, turn away from those who don’t take climate change seriously, it is an incredibly powerful way to trigger them into action. Make sustainability a demand on your employer.

Clim8 Careers filters companies based on the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals their business is trying to further. Why does this matter to companies as well as candidates in the platform?

The UN SDGs are an actionable map for a sustainable future. To me personally, the keyword is ‘actionable’, which is groundbreaking. 

The SDGs have become a global language for business and individuals alike, encouraging society to think about the values that matter most, endorse them and apply them. 

Specific targets and toolkits underlie each of the SDGs as a common framework, which are sorely lacking in many sustainability endeavours, such as ESG investment standards for example.

On Clim8 Careers, we challenge businesses by asking ‘what are you fighting for?’. Because it should be a default setting for any business to fight for a cause, a level of betterment, beyond placing product on a shelf. That is what employees and consumers demand more and more, which is great to see. Rallying to specific SDGs is a clear, recognisable rallying call to a cause. 

Which of the UN SDGs are most close to your heart?

While it’s incredibly difficult to choose a single UN SDG, I selected ‘Goal 13: Climate Action’. So much social and economic capital is tied to the climate crisis that focusing on that goal alone would have a myriad benefits.

Why should young people look to start a career in sustainability, or seasoned professionals consider pivoting into this space? 

Today, we perceive sustainability as a skill, a silo within a business. But the world is changing fast and sustainability won’t be a stand alone vertical for much longer. 

Rather, it will permeate all areas of a business. I often think about ‘sustainability’ as we used to think about ‘digital’: ‘digital marketing’ is now entirely embedded into ‘marketing’.

Pivoting to a career is sustainability right now, is simply building essential business knowledge ahead of the massive transition we are going to witness to a green economy.

Pivoting now is choosing to be a leader in this space. And for those who like a challenge, turning many preconceptions on their heads and choosing to think about business entirely differently, ie: through a sustainability lens.

What can Clim8 Careers Insiders expect from your platform in the future?

Obviously, expect the all-singing job/candidate matching functionality to be rolled out in the coming months. 

More importantly, expect to find a selection of businesses leading with sustainability, showing the way. We will also share exciting stories of invention and re-invention, both from an employee and employer perspective.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?

‘Perception is everything’ is what I was told early on at Morgan Stanley. It took me a while to really understand it, as initially, it struck me as cynical.

What it is really about though, is not being afraid of making a noise about the good work you do. Take credit where it is due and own your professional space. It’s particularly relevant for women’s stature at work, which is a topic very close to my heart.

A second brilliant piece of advice was to network every day. That has been the key to innumerable professional adventures. Crucially, it has enriched my personal life with new friendships and relationships beyond my perceived comfort bubble. 

What is your personal definition of a “Career with a purpose”?

I came to it fairly late in my professional life. What it means to me today is two things: working towards an idea or a vision bigger than my day-to-day tasks. And feeling connected to my team in such a way that I constantly learn from them, and ensure they can also learn from me. 

It sounds a little pompous but really, it’s all about jumping out of bed in the morning and looking forward to another day.

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We hope you’ll love our new platform and find tools and inspiration for your own sustainability journey. As many more sustainable businesses (our “Sustainability Champions”) join us, look out for exciting ideas and stories to build your own version of a career with a purpose. Don’t forget to sign up to stay up to date with all our latest news!

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