NewForesight introduces young professionals to sustainability consulting

01 June 2018 4 min. read

Dutch sustainability consulting firm NewForesight recently offered 23 young professionals a crash course in what it means to be a sustainability consultant at the ‘Young Agents of Change’ event last month. The event is part of the firm’s continued strategy of supporting the next generation of ‘change agents’.

With the looming threat of global warming poised to disrupt the world’s ecologies and human society, more people – and especially millennials – are concerned with environmental sustainability. In the business community, sustainability initiatives are becoming more common, as the strategies of businesses shift to align with the aspirations and worldviews of the next generation. Meanwhile, the pursuit of sustainability, in the form of greener operations and circular economy principles, among others, can also come with financial gains, as demonstrated by an extensive BCG and MIT analysis released two years ago.

As such, the demand for sustainability consulting is growing. But what does a day in the life of a sustainability consultant look like? NewForesight – a Dutch consulting firm that supports organisations with designing sustainability strategies and implementing solutions – helped 23 young people find out. In a bid to give graduates a sneak peek into their everyday work, the management consultancy invited 23 high-potential young people from diverse backgrounds into the firm’s office for a full-day crash course of theory and practice.

NewForesight CEO Lucas Simons – formerly honored as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum for his work in the field of sustainability – launched the day with a speech outlining the transformations the firm has enacted in various sectors with leading organisations, stressing that young people can make a real impact in a world that requires ‘thoughtful interventions.’NewForesight introduces young professionals to sustainability consultingSenior Consultant Will Saab then presented some examples of common sustainability consulting projects – from developing high-level strategy to building farming economic models. Former Junior Analyst Andrea Viviers – now an Analyst at the firm – recounted her past experience as a Young Agent of Change. Afterwards, Consultant Guus ter Haar provided a crash course in effective presentation and feedback techniques.

The participants were then tasked with doing some mock consulting work on a cocoa sustainability case for client Willy Wonka (a fictional client inspired by the lead character in the 1964 movie ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’). The young participants had to quickly apply NewForesight’s sustainability methodology to craft an analysis and report. Leveraging the analyses provided, NewForesight’s consultants emphasised that their real-world clients are looking for long-term integrated solutions with continuing impact.

Commenting on the day, CEO Lucas Simons remarked, “We were thrilled to see all change makers working hard to wrap their head around the complex cases, in a very collaborative way. The quality of their work was stunning; they proved to be a promising group of high-potential change agents who are driven to tackle complex sustainability challenges. Following the event we were happy to hear the Young Agents of Change were able to learn from the experience and will apply the NewForesight consulting skills in the future.”

The young participants were equally effusive about the experience. “The case study practice gave great insights on the types of information and challenges a consultant might face,” said Robin Hooft van Huijsduijnen, who is studying a Master of Science in Sustainable Development. Co-participant Heidi Lampén, who is following the Master in Global Health and Environmental Planning programme, added; “I have been able to make use of many of the learnings immediately during the week after the event.”

The event forms part of NewForesight’s broader strategy of supporting and staying in touch with the next generation of change agents. Earlier last month, the sustainability consultancy also organised the ‘Future Sustainability Leaders’ networking event, in collaboration with SustainableTalent. During the event, the initiators invited professionals to help them discover more about sustainability topics and cases.