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SBC Visits EY Climate Change & Sustainability

Exploring sustainability work in consulting industry

This week we visited the headquarters of EY in Finland in their new office in the centre of Helsinki. We were welcomed by Marja Mäenpää and Jani Alenius, the two people in EY Climate Change & Sustainability Services team working in Finland.

Our visit was opened by EY’s HR manager who introduced us to the company, its competencies and some insights into working life. It was surprising to hear that EY has a mobile working culture - no consultant has a fixed cubicle or room, floors are divided by service line teams and within those floors, anyone takes any working space available. Another thing EY values is teaming, the company makes sure nobody works alone and employees can really learn from each other.

After discussing career opportunities at EY, we moved to discussing EY’s work on sustainability that was the focus of our visit. EY Climate Change & Sustainability Services is not a separate service line at the company (like tax or assurance, for instance) but rather a “knowledge hotspot” as Jani explained, working with all other teams and their subject competencies. The four main objectives within sustainability EY is solving are making sustainability strategic, leading sustainability performance, managing risk and ensuring competence, and creating value and growing business.

The presentation of sustainability services has raised a long of questions among students and we discussed such themes as consultancy work in sustainability, demand for sustainability services in different countries, sustainability competencies, trends and possible unification of sustainability standards in the future.

The third part of our visit was a challenging case exercise on circular economy. In small groups we had to devise circular economy models for machinery and clothing companies. After quick brainstorming, each team presented their model acting as consultants; Jani and Marja asked questions acting like clients and then gave us a lot of feedback. The case exercise illustrated the challenging pace of work in consulting - often clients pose a problem and consultants have to do research, learn a lot and create deliverables in quite short periods of time.

One of the most interesting insights from the visit was the discussion of landing a job in sustainability. As many of us wish to work in sustainability, we tend to think that finding a job in specifically this field is feasible, so is becoming some kind of “sustainability expert”. “If you want to have a job in sustainability, you have to have another card to play”, said Jani, explaining that in his opinion, any professional has to be qualified in other area, e.g. international business or accounting along with “sustainability” that can be applied to a variety of disciplines. Marja added that one has to figure out their way to a dream job and that is often the case with sustainability - this is something to really think about!

It was great to have a fruitful discussion about sustainability work in consulting and hearing personal stories of professionals. We thank EY Finland for hosting us and we hope to co-operate further on other events in the future!

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