Field or Board Room? Explore a Career in Corporate Sustainability

Does working in an office sound more appealing than being out in the field? Learn how Tony Ciarla from Tervita Corporation used his extensive environmental chemistry background and transitioned into a corporate sustainability role.

Post by: Jennifer Schultz, ECO Canada

Many environmental jobs involve being ‘hands-on’ and require working in the field or in a laboratory.

But there is a growing need for environmental professionals to work with organizations to solve their environmental, energy or waste management challenges.

Sales, marketing and client services are necessary skills for those wanting to work in a corporate sustainability environment.

Tony Ciarla, Director of Canadian Account Management for Tervita Corporation shares his insights on his career path in corporate sustainability below.

How did you find this career path?

I have a background in environmental chemistry, analytical instrumentation, sales and client services.

Tervita offered a unique opportunity for me to use my technical expertise and passion for client relations to participate in complex projects and programs. Tervita serves a diverse range of clients, whose needs are vast.

I thrive on the challenge to determine the most effective solutions and how we can efficiently help customers manage their environmental risk and reputation.

My transferable skills and passion for environmental stewardship are what initially drew me to Tervita, however, the corporate culture focused on safety and collaboration is what has kept me with the organization.

The programs we are involved with have a lot of moving parts and require a commitment to teamwork to provide our clients with effective and timely solutions.

What does a typical day look like?

The great thing about my role is that every day is different. I’m always focused on how we can provide better service and support to our clients.

We provide services to many sectors, each with a unique set of challenges, so listening and understanding their needs and challenges is a crucial component of my day to day.

Who does your work influence the most?

My work influences a number of areas both internally and externally.

The sales and customer engagement strategies I build help provide alignment from how we advertise, how we package our services for clients, to how we best invoice and engage accounts payable.

Externally my work touches exploration and production companies, mining companies, manufacturing, rail, developers, industrial clients and all levels of government.

It’s very rewarding to know that the environmental services and solutions we provide to our clients are influencing the way they think about and act on environmental stewardship.

What advice can you give to students and new professionals considering a career in corporate sustainability?

Canada is a leader in advancing corporate and environmental sustainability. A career in corporate and environmental sustainability is incredibly rewarding.

You are constantly challenging the status quo and contributing to a future that will be better for our future generations.

My advice is to get involved. Join an industry association, learn from your peers and be open-minded. Be innovative, creative and don’t be afraid to take risks that will make a difference in your organization, industry and the way we do business in Canada.

Hear Tony Ciarla speak at the Calgary Environmental Professional Networking Event on February 18, 2014. As the special guest speaker, he’ll be discussing stories and insights from the Alberta Flood Response and Recovery.

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