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What does an AECOM Graduate Sustainability Consultant do?

What does an AECOM Graduate Sustainability Consultant do?

 June 14, 2024

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Thinking of starting a career in sustainability, or moving into a new role in the industry?

Meet AECOM Graduate Sustainability Consultant, Meegan Worcester who works within the Carbon and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practice in AECOM's Environment business line in Basingstoke in the United Kingdom.

Meegan partners with global companies to help minimize their environmental impacts. Explore how she helped a FTSE 250 firm set science-based targets for nature and learn about her inspirations and role with AECOM.

“Every day I come to work and feel stretched (in the best way possible) and know that I still have so much to learn,” says Meegan. "It is such a fast-paced industry, which not only makes it exciting to learn more on-the-go, but it also allows me to try a bit of everything and figure out what I want to specialize in later in my career.”

AECOM Meegan Worcester career

Role as a Graduate Sustainability Consultant

Meegan joined AECOM in 2023 as a Graduate Sustainability Consultant. Prior to joining, she completed her Undergraduate Degree in Sustainability and Environmental Management at the University of Leeds, and then pursued a Master’s Degree in Sustainability and Consultancy.

To date, Meegan has worked on a range of projects across the practice service areas, such as carbon management, sustainable infrastructure and climate resilience.

A strong interest in climate resilience and adaptation

AECOM career inspirations

Meegan shares that her interest in the environment stems from being born and raised in Saudi Arabia. She remembers, as a teenager, being in a private car on a large motorway going to and from school every week just thinking about how this affected the environment and people's health.

"Public transport was not the norm, so seeing the over-reliance of cars and limited public walking spaces, made me more concerned about the environment," says Meegan.

When Meegan moved to the UK in 2015 and started her A Level Geography course, she became heavily interested in climate resilience and adaptation, because after studying each topic, there would always be a discussion about sustainability and what challenges needed to be addressed in the future.

"In the classroom, we would explore challenges associated with the physical landscape, such as more frequent extreme weather events increasing erosion along the UK east coast. We would also discuss challenges linked to economic and political pressures, such as resource exploitation of global commons, like oceans and forests," recalls Meegan.

"Prior to joining AECOM, I studied sustainability for five years at university. I was incredibly interested in the complexity of the field and how the issues we face due to climate change cannot be solved with a one-size-fits-all approach. I wanted to be part of the industry actively and collaboratively solving these challenges and be able to put all the knowledge I had learnt into practice."

AECOM climate change

Assisting with setting science-based targets for nature

Meegan explains that one of her favorite AECOM projects by far is assisting a global FTSE 250 company with setting science-based targets for nature (SBTNs). The Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) builds on the momentum of the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). It provides a structure and approach for organisations to assess environmental impacts and set targets to reduce potential negative impacts and amplify potential positive impacts for nature and society.

"The first release of the SBTN target setting method in May 2023 includes integrated guidance for companies to assess and prioritize their material impacts on the environment. This includes freshwater quality and quantity, as well as inter-related land targets to protect and restore terrestrial ecosystems, alongside climate through the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). To ensure our client fully understood the five-step methodology and what would be required to set science-based targets for nature, we conducted a high-level review comprised of the latest information, resources and tools available from SBTN," comments Meegan.

"This was my first project where I could listen to what the client thought of our deliverable and how it could be adapted to their wider business plan. During this process, I learnt that many of the sustainability frameworks, standards and methodologies out there can overlap with one another, which can be overly confusing and complicated for the client if they manage many of these at once already. It is important that we communicate this understanding to the client and identify where they have already gathered appropriate information that can be used elsewhere, as this will help prevent duplicating work, and help to build on any gaps they have to meet the new criteria, such as SBTN. Overall, it was interesting to see the interface of sustainability and business up close, which was one of my favorite modules that I studied during my Undergraduate Degree."

Encouraging adoption of environment-friendly practices

As part of the work for the client Meegan mentions above, she has contributed to writing their deforestation policy. This involved a desk-top review of key policy, legislation, guidance and frameworks. The review encompassed a global remit, including the latest European Union (EU) regulations such as EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR), EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (CSDDD) and EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), as well as relevant guidance and frameworks such as the Accountability Framework Initiative (AFi), High Conservation Approach (HCA), and High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA).

"The purpose of this desk-top review was to ensure the client develops a deforestation policy that aligns with current and forthcoming requirements and best practices. This will hopefully have a long-term positive impact on the client’s farmers and suppliers, as well as the local communities who depend on global forests and their ecosystems services. The policy will hopefully encourage farmers to adopt environment-friendly practices, enable suppliers to identify and address risks related to their supply chains to ensure long-term viability, and protect local livelihoods by preserving forests and ecosystems," says Meegan.

A great piece of career advice

AECOM career advice

Meegan explains that anyone who is a recent graduate and doesn't know where to start, they should say 'yes' to everything, even if the task sounds daunting and outside their comfort zone.

"As a graduate, you aren’t expected to be perfect, but you are expected to show interest in the work your team does and enthusiasm to get involved where you can. Also, be kind to yourself. You won’t know everything, and you will go through a steep learning curve to get where you want to be. Not every opportunity will come to you right away, and sometimes you will need to be proactive and identify where you want to improve and how this can be done to align with your interests and career ambitions," shares Meegan.

"Another tip is to think about what you want to build over the next, however many months or years, in this new role. One thing that has helped me visualize where I want to be in five years from now is looking at my team and identifying those with interests that aligns with mine and the types of projects they have worked on. It is only natural to look at others who lead by example – this has helped me recognize where I can develop my skills over the long-term. I also make note of how they conduct themselves on client calls or how they approach project management, and then identify where I can improve," Meegan adds.

AECOM graduate careers

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