Key Skills for Sustainability Experts: Collaboration and Communication

As industries increasingly focus on sustainability, the demand for sustainability expertise is growing. But what specific skills do employers seek in sustainability experts?
6 roundtable speakers standing together
From left to right: Roundtable speakers at the Sustainability Science Days Congress, Finland. Taru Halla, Meeri Karvinen, Jussi-Pekka Teini, Petri Suomala, Elina Kähkönen and Katri-Liisa Pulkkinen. Image: M.Georgiou

At two events organized by the Aalto Co-Educator team this spring, industry representatives emphasized two key skills: collaboration and communication

“You need to get people along on the journey to make change,” said Heidi Peltonen, Vice President of Sustainability at Outokumpu, during a panel discussion for teachers at Aalto. She emphasised that while substance competency in sustainability themes is important, it is not the only factor that matters. You can watch the discussion here.  

Taru Halla, Managing Director at Ecobio, with over 20 years of experience in corporate sustainability consulting, shared similar views at the round table entitled "Sustainability Competencies for the Future: University Education, Work, and Beyond". She highlighted the necessity of collaboration between experts from various disciplines such as chemistry, mathematics, biology and engineering to find the best solutions in the complex field of sustainability. Halla also underscored the importance of asking questions. 

Graduates need tools to make ethical decisions 

Petri Suomala, Vice President of Education at Aalto, provided the keynote at the round table session. Suomala emphasized the importance of multidisciplinarity.  

Furthermore, Suomala highlighted that we need to discuss how to incorporate values into our education – at least to acknowledge their existence. 

Both events highlighted similar opinions from industry professionals and academics. It was emphasized that effective sustainability teaching requires collaboration among educators from different disciplines and advanced pedagogical methods. Furthermore, graduates need tools to make informed, ethical decisions in addition to tools to tackle complex challenges in the workforce. 

Industry leaders and academics alike highlight that while technical knowledge in sustainability is crucial, the ability to work effectively across disciplines and communicate with diverse stakeholders is paramount. 

The Aalto Co-Educator team is passionate about supporting teachers and programme directors to meaningfully integrate solutions for sustainability into courses and programmes. Learn more about our services here or contact [email protected] to enquire. 

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