I’ve received many inquiries about how I started Eco-Coach and what my path has been. So, I thought I’d share a short article that I wrote, answering that question, with you.Would love to hear your comments and thoughts!
Like most of us, I came to be where I am today through a winding road, with plenty of detours. When I was younger, I saw environmentalism as a personal interest, not as a career. I went to undergrad intending to be a diplomat, but after four years at Georgetown, I decided I would give working with the environment a try. I joined an organization that sold some great products; however, in the mid-nineties the general public did not care that bottled water would soon cost more than gasoline, or that green products were healthier and less harmful to the environment. After less than a year, I decided that I needed additional skills to work in this field. I chose to obtain a Master’s in International Management (effectively, an MBA) from Thunderbird in Arizona.
I certainly built my skill level but unfortunately, when I graduated, the field of environmental consulting was only focused on technical aspects, such as bioremediation and wastewater management, which I was neither interested nor skilled in. The ‘sustainability consulting’ field had simply not developed yet, so the next stop on my journey was traditional management consulting. I reasoned that this would provide me with skills and knowledge that I could apply at a later date in some capacity related to the environment. I worked for a boutique consultancy started by a Deloitte partner – my team and the clients were great, as were the clients, and the work was very challenging. Though I was doing interesting work and acquiring many skills, it was not satisfying on a deeper level.
Eventually I was laid off from that job, which created the opportunity for me to incorporate my own consulting firm. I was fortunate in that I had great clients from the start, but the idea of working to help businesses mitigate their impact on the environment still nagged at me. I pondered many different ideas that were not on the market at the time, but still did not take a step. After all, these were still uncharted waters, and I had always “heard” that you cannot make money and work with the environment. Then one day, I said, “Enough is enough!”, when I saw yet another idea of mine implemented by someone else. The idea, quite new at the time, was a carbon offset company that would quantify an individual’s travel footprint and offset it. That company was TerraPass, whom I have to thank for unwittingly giving me the last nudge to get started!
Although I had toyed with many business models, I hadn’t acted on them because I didn’t feel ready to successfully launch a company in those areas. Ultimately, I chose to focus on sustainability consulting and coaching. I knew I had the skills and interest to work with businesses and individuals educating them about the environment and providing them with tools to decrease their negative impact on the earth. As with any business, I started with a rather broad scope that has changed and refined over time. I expect the direction and scope to continue to be responsive to the market and to the input we receive from our clients and consultants.
I consider myself lucky because I am able to do work that I love with some wonderful, committed people. However, as you have read, it was not a straight line or an easy path to get to this point. It has been a continuous learning process, and certainly an opportunity for growth. I have learned that to stay focused and be successful, you must find your niche: something that you enjoy that also challenges you to grow. It also may not happen right away – you need to identify which skills you need and take the time to acquire them – but if you keep the goal in mind, you will eventually get there!