Chief Sustainability Officers
CSOs work for a variety of companies, including major corporations, regional and local companies, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Chief sustainability officers are top-level executives; depending upon the structure of the organization, they may report to chief executive officers. They have at least five or more years of prior work experience in management positions on sustainability programs.
Many sustainability officers get their start through entry-level positions working on environmental programs for companies. Participating in an internship while in school is another way to get started in this career. Speak with your school's career services office for help with locating internship opportunities in sustainability. You can also locate employment opportunities by attending career fairs and searching for job openings listed at Web sites such as CareerBuilder, Indeed, and SimplyHired, among others, as well as through LinkedIn.
Chief sustainability officers are at the top level of their field. After years of experience at the company, they may become the chief executive officer. They may be appointed to the board of directors or move on to oversee the sustainability programs of larger, more prestigious organizations. Some may start their own companies.
Tips for Entry
Keep up with news and events by reading publications such as Corporate Responsibility Magazine (https://www.3blassociation.com/insights/magazines) and Chief Executive (https://chiefexecutive.net).
Read articles and find other helpful resources through organizations such as the Sustainability Management Association (http://www.sustainabilityma.org) and the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (https://www.sustainabilityprofessionals.org).
Explore the field by attending events such as the National Association of Environmental Management's Sustainability Management Conference, for workshops, panel discussions, and opportunities to meet others working in the corporate sustainability field. Find information at http://corporatesustainabilitymanagement.naem.org.
Get an internship or part-time job in the sustainability department of a company to obtain work experience and make valuable networking connections.