{Green Careers} February 2014 – Sustainable Career Tracks

February 13, 2014

By Srikant Subramaniam  


  On Tuesday, February 4th, the GreenHomeNYC Green Careers group held its second meeting of the year. Intended as a seminar on Sustainable Career Tracks, the event was held at the offices of one of New York’s leading firms in the industry, Steven Winter Associates, Inc. The meeting, presided over by GHNYC’s very own Andy Padian and Katie Schwamb, received an overwhelming response from individuals interested in attending.   The event featured four inspiring speakers, who spoke of their own experiences starting out, and offered enlightened advice to budding professionals seeking a career in the sustainability sector.


The first featured speaker of the evening was Mr. Steven Winter, Founder and President at Steven Winter Associates, Inc. An architect by profession, he spoke of how the entire energy efficiency industry is based on science, and how a desire for hands-on engagement is a must-have to be successful in this field. Mr. Winter also outlined the three qualities that define success in sustainability – namely, Analysis, Analysis, and not least, Analysis. First, analyze your interests, strengths, and your obligations. Second, analyze how to use your strengths to an organization’s advantage. And third, analyze companies to find the one you really, really want to work for. With that sort of structured approach, you just can’t miss!  


Michelle Andry, Partnership Coordinator at the Urban Assembly School for Green Careers, spoke of her experiences engaging high school students in green issues. She teaches and provides hands-on experience in environmental education to the budding professionals of tomorrow. As the school’s sustainability coordinator, she works to strengthen educational-industrial partnerships, and leverage these to successfully incorporate sustainability into the school curriculum. She had some great tips to offer. You are equally an interviewer as you are an interviewee; use an interview to learn if the company’s philosophy matches your own. Ensure that the company’s culture is one you would be comfortable working in. Use your personal strengths to your advantage. Play up to those high points.  


Always keep looking for a job. Even if you have one. That’s the advice Lloyd Kass, Director of Build Smart NY at the New York Power Authority (NYPA), had to offer. He’s someone who’s taken twists and turns to get to where he is now, and he’s viewed every inch of that journey as a step towards reaching his career goal. Throughout his career, he’s been motivating himself to achieve his personal goal of bettering the government and society in general. And he now pays it forward by grooming young professionals toward their career aspirations. Here’s some astute advice for job seekers from the man himself. If you think you need to email someone about a job, call them instead. If you think you need to call someone, go meet them in person instead. Summarize your profile at the top of your resume. That’s what employers see when they are sifting through a few hundred applications. Last, and not least – pay it forward when you are able. There will be those who can benefit from your experiences and tribulations.  


If you are reticent, and need some inspiration in public speaking, Luke Falk, Sustainability Manager at The Related Companies is the person to watch. A self-confessed ‘shy guy,’ you’d think he was lying when you hear him actually speak. An adjunct professor at Columbia University, he was a project manager for NYSERDA before his current stint at Related Companies. Drawing on his experiences as an unemployed graduate straight out of college, he says the going was tough initially. A ton of perseverance coupled with a smattering of luck was what got him his first job. His experiences and advice are inspiring to those seeking a career in sustainability. Luck definitely helps, but you must first put yourself in a position to ‘get lucky.’ Having a mentor who can guide you toward a contented career is very important. Find one. Sometimes, not having prior knowledge or experience in your chosen field can be helpful, because you have an open mind. Commit to doing something or the other; no decision is the wrong decision. Always keep learning, and always stay humble.   The speeches were followed by a  Q&A session, during which the speakers fielded questions from the audience and offered further experiential insights. The evening ended with a much-anticipated networking session at one of Midtown NY’s popular saloons.   By Srikant Subramaniam   —————————————————————————————————————————— Interested in knowing more about Green Careers group? Check the GHNYC events calendar for information about our upcoming meetings. If you’re interested in joining our mailing list of have any questions, please contact Katie Schwamb at [email protected].