The HBS Business and Environment Initiative launched the Climate Rising podcast in 2019 to elicit insights from leaders working at the intersection of business and climate change. The podcast is particularly valuable for those seeking to work in this space. Host Professor Mike Toffel concludes most episodes with the question: What advice do you have for people considering a career in business and climate change? Below is a distillation of the responses from some of the podcast guests over the past two years:

Find your passion and specialize.

There are many ways one can work on business and climate change, which can be both overwhelming but also incredibly exciting. Many Climate Rising guests stressed the importance of finding a career you enjoy, and seeking roles that align with both your passions and your strengths.

Erin Craig, VP-Customer Solutions and Innovation; Chief Sustainability Officer at 3Degrees

Climate Rising episode: How Harvard is Going Fossil Fuel Free

“Rather than saying, I want to get into climate change and therefore, what should I do? I would think of it the other way around, which is, What really excites me and how can I apply that to climate change?”

Don’t be afraid to go deep and specialize if you can identify that intersection point, they said. There are many new areas in the climate arena with a shortage of subject matter experts.

Steven Rothstein, Managing Director, Ceres Accelerator for Sustainable Capital Markets

Climate Rising episode: How Ceres Supports Corporate Boards to Accelerate Climate Action

“Find something you really love and then get good at it, really specialized. That specialized could either be in a subject matter - you could be an expert in water, methane, or lots of other area - or you could be a specialist in communications or finance elements or human resources… Most people specialize in either a subject matter or in a set of responsibilities. Do it in a way that you enjoy.”

For those who are still trying to find their passion, common advice was: get started and be willing to try out lots of different work to figure out what you like (and what you don’t). Consider areas where you can have the biggest impact and use that as a jumping off point. Guests were adamant: it’s possible to have a career of passion and fulfillment.

Incorporate climate and sustainability into any job.

Many Climate Rising guests noted that ‘sustainability’ or ‘climate’ does not need to be in your job title for it to be incorporated into your work. They stressed that achieving the pace of transformation needed to decarbonize our economy will require collaboration across all functions and all sectors. All businesses and organizations will be impacted by the effects of climate change, so it is critical to have people in many areas who want to find solutions and drive forward the climate agenda. Every role will need to take climate action and every organization will need intelligent people to bring fresh ideas and drive this cultural shift.

Ellen Jackowski, Chief Impact Officer at HP when the episode was recorded; now Chief Sustainability Officer and EVP at Mastercard

Climate Rising episode: The HP Way to Net Zero

“Find your passion, find the area that you want to work in, whatever that is, and then add sustainability into your job description. There can't be sustainability teams that are physically big enough. They have to include everybody on this planet working together to address the issues that we're facing.”

Continually build your network.

Many guests stressed the need to build a network of people working on climate. People are generally receptive to talking about their careers and the choices they made that helped get them where they are today. In addition, be sure to also network outside of your target industry to get exposure to more perspectives and opportunities. Climate change is a highly interdisciplinary problem, and we need large networks of people both within and outside of our direct industry to address it.

Paul McDonald, Senior Director, Opower Product Strategy & Marketing at Oracle

Climate Rising episode: How OPower Uses Behavioral Science & AI to Reduce Energy Demand

“There's nothing that quite replaces those delightfully awkward informational interviews with people that might be in or near or not even close to your professional network. Those are real learning opportunities for what might be needed from the companies that are out there.”

Know how to connect the dots across sectors.

Because business and climate change topics are complex and interconnected, finding solutions often requires managers to collaborate with many other stakeholders including scientists, politicians, and community leaders. Those who can connect the dots and bridge the gap between these sectors are going to be incredibly valuable.

Carter Roberts, HBS MBA 1988, President/CEO of World Wildlife Fund-US

Climate Rising episode: How World Wildlife Fund Partners with Companies on Climate Change

“You can make a difference as long as you acquire the ability to connect the dots between sectors, because it is when you collaborate between scientists, government, the corporate sector, and with communities, that's where the good stuff happens. That's where the answer lies at that intersection.”

Many of the guests expressed their desire to hire candidates who understand the interconnectivity of climate challenges and can translate complex climate topics into simple terms. They recommend spending time learning about policies, regulations, systems of change, certification schemes, and the impacts that they are having on different sectors and stakeholder groups. It’s critical to understand how a change in one industry might affect others.

Continuous learning in this rapidly evolving space.

Staying up to date on climate change news is an important way to get educated and find out about new industries and job openings. Look at areas where VCs are investing to understand future growth areas. Policy and technological advancements are moving quickly in the climate space paving the way for new opportunities. We’ve consolidated many of the resources our guests recommended below as a starting point for engaging in the climate community. More resources are available in the show notes of each Climate Rising episode.

To continue learning about the intersection of climate change and business, subscribe to the Climate Rising podcast, which releases new episodes every other Wednesday.