Strategic Sustainability Consulting: The Insider’s Perspective with Jennifer Woofter

Business, Interviews, Social Enterprise, Talk — By on 08/23/2011 13:32

Leader in Sustainable Development: Jennifer Woofter

The Full Interview

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Jennifer Woofter, founder of Strategic Sustainability Consulting,  sits down with me to discuss all aspects of the industry. If you are an aspiring sustainability consultant or in need of sustainability consulting Jennifer’s knowledge will be of immense value to you.

Interview Notes

  • started in 2005 after MSLS in Sweden
  • mid size companies need help with consulting for sustainability
  • 100-10,000 employees
  • 50 million to 500 million in revenue/year
  • big enough to have structures, but not too big
  • works with a lot of wal mart suppliers
  • work with service based companies
  • food and bev, textiles, the list goes on,
  • most client come to them knowing they need to do something about sustainability… but don’t know what to beyond that. especially how to prioritize
  • what does sustainability mean for you?
  • @4.35  services provided – comes from initial sustainability assessment
  • some org. change, some value chain.
  • need to look at the motivation to being sustainable
  • @6.10 How do you get your clients?
  • they find us! it’s pull marketing.
  • very difficult to convince people they need your services, they need to be motivated first. they don’t want to feel that you’re pitching them.
  • lots of people find them through a google search
  • clients cant tell a qualified consultant from a non-qualified consultant. also, they need help in scoping their project efficiently
  • need to feel out the budget too.
  • part of the bus. dev. is being able to walk a client through the sustainability route/options
  • a lot of sustainability consultants go wrong by trying to co-create with the companies. companies want somebody who has a product
  • “clients don’t want to pay you to help them figure it out”
  • no co-creation with clients! give them a product, be an authority, have confidence.
  • @9.25 – getting started a sustainability consultant
  • built the Strategic Sustainability Consulting Network which is now a huge asset
  • “I’ve got the perfect person for whatever project comes in”
  • there is definitely a temptation to take on everything.
  • Jennifer is now very strict about taking on projects that are a perfect fit
  • @15.00 ish – baseline analysis of a company – 2 day operation
  • after the baseline, they implement the road map created during the baseline
  • @15:05 – involvement after baseline and implementation with client
  • @17:25 – how to establish credibility as a consultant
  • there’s a good deal of competition
  • need confidence in your process.
  • you really need something real and tangible to show them
  • the first client is the hardest.
  • the hardest client to get is the first one of an industry.
  • they want to work with somebody who knows the industry.
  • get some industry experience.
  • as a beginning practitioner you need to be able to speak the language of the industry to show that you know what they are going through.
  • “you as a consultant will never know the business as well as they do”
  • clients understand a respect when you say “I will never know your company as well as you do but what I do know is what questions to ask and when”
  • theres nothing the consultant offers that the client cannot do for themselves. the consultant offers the efficiency, knowledge, and expertise.
  • help them figure out where they want somebody in-house that will help them out with sustainability
  • bring it to the practical, tangible level
  • @24:30 Jovin Hurry – What are currently the hot areas of sustainability consulting and why?
  • sustainability planning in general – carbon footprint, software and IT is one of the fastest growing areas.
  • life cycle assessments are huge
  • wal mart suppliers – 100k – but the market is close to saturated with consultants
  • milestones, scope, be tangible, especially when distance is involved
  • project management skills are incredibly important.
  • best project management software – solve 360 by
  • @30:30 Marco Valente – soft skills that are very beneficial to consultants?
  • looking for people who can be practical and can break a project down into actionable steps
  • project management skills and being practical
  • listen more than you talk
  • be proactive and able to quickly turn things around
  • are you a good researcher and a good writer
  • are you a good writer, the first time around?
  • must be able to deal with ambiguity. a lot of times there isn’t one right answer. you have to be able to justify why this path vs that path
  • must be able to keep your cool in terms of soft skills
  • high social capital – the ability to form partnerships with others
  • find your tribe – seth godin
  • the relationship with the client should not be difficult. really.
  • consulting is so much relationship based.
  • @38:45 Michele Slater – Regulations inhibit or help sustainable innovation
  • …Living Building Challenge
  • @41:10 Tanner Bailey responded to in
  • -huge potential for sustainability consulting with engineering skills
  • -lots of compliance and regulatory based
  • sustainability from an engineering perspective – link…
  • @43:20 Melissa Blair – How do you get into sustainability consulting when you have consulting exp.
  • describe your services exactly and tangibly Karthikeyan Elangeswaran
  • @44:55 Karthikeyan Elangeswaran… sorry for butchering your name! -ISO 14001

Resources Mentioned

Strategic Sustainability Consulting


About Jennifer Woofter

Jennifer is the founder and president of Strategic Sustainability Consulting. She draws upon a decade of expertise in the fields of corporate social responsibility, ethical investing, and organizational accountability systems to help clients make the leap between good intentions and long-term sustainable performance. She specializes in sustainability assessments and planning, and has a Masters Degree in Sustainability Leadership


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