How I got my sustainability job


One of the most defining chapters of my life has been my first career at Cisco. Some of you may have seen my updates on Cisco Green Team activities, as well as some highlights from my full time role as a Sustainable Packaging Program Manager. When I first came to the company in 2015, I didn't jump right into sustainability though, and it took me some time to get there.

For those of us looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle, perhaps through zero waste, a plant based diet, etc., there's no better thing than to have our full-time jobs align with those values. I soon realized this after a year of working in IT and feeling as though I wasn't able to flourish in my passion for sustainability. And so, this post has a few tips of how I started the Cisco Green Team Network, an official employee organization at Cisco dedicated to greening our offices and communities, and tips for how I landed my role in the sustainability field, even though I don't have a sustainability degree. Everyone has the potential to make an impact wherever they are in the company! If you'd like to watch the latest youtube video above, go for it, otherwise a written synopsis is also below.


Tips for starting a green team in your current role

1. Find like-minded people

  • It's daunting to tackle sustainability changes in any organization, large or small, especially on your own

  • Having support from others on your team comes as a huge encouragement.

2. Start small

  • When we launched our first Bring Your Own Cup campaign, we kept it simple with our four dedicated, yet passionate volunteers that were willing to make it work

  • You can read more about our first green team campaign which was featured on the Cisco website

3. Grow your network and partnerships

  • Make good ties with the workplace resources team and sustainability team

  • Take the opportunity to pitch to executives and secure a sponsor who was able to fund future activities

  • Officially establish your team - here’s my story about the Cisco Green Team Network

4. Bonus tip, tie in the business benefit

  • If there is a business benefit (usually lowered costs) due to any green team changes, make sure to illustrate those impacts to those who may be concerned about the changes you want to implement

Tips for landing a sustainability career

1. Apply sustainability to your current role

  • Explore what other professions may be doing in business today by looking at CSR (corporate social responsibility) reports for your favorite companies, and see if there may be any creative opportunities out there

  • Get inspiration from organizations like Net Impact

2. Network

  • Grow your network in your current company, or even outside your company, and connect with people that work in the sustainability field

  • Build relationships, and seek to understand the type of work they do to determine if it would be a good fit for you

3. Do a stretch project

  • See if there is an option to do a project with the sustainability team that you may want to learn a new skill from

  • Make sure your current manager is okay with you doing this

  • This is a great way to see what your work may be like if you transition into sustainability work

4. Land the role

  • If it's the time for you to make the switch and you feel ready to transition, reach out to those in your network to let them know you're looking for a new position

  • Take time to apply, interview, and ask questions