Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Natalie Lavery is an expert at all things social media, website design, and marketing. As the Marketing Lead at Climate People, a startup recruiting agency, Natalie helps connect individuals with mission driven companies that are helping to decarbonize the global economy. In this fireside chat, Natalie dives deeper into how the climate tech industry is addressing climate change and ways we can stay optimistic when finding a climate job.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
After breaking into the climate space, Natalie is inspired to help others take action on the planet one job at a time.
What inspired you to work in the climate space?
I grew up loving nature and being outdoors. It made me want to be involved in the environmental space. However, I’m not a STEM person and a lot of these subjects are intertwined. For the longest time, I wrote off my environmental passion as a side gig.
When COVID hit, I started looking for different types of jobs and realized that an issue as expansive as climate change needs people from all walks of life with different skills and backgrounds.
I started applying for jobs that I wasn't necessarily qualified for, but I was passionate about the cause. When I came across Climate People, I applied for a recruiting role and I didn’t have recruiting experience. But, I liked the company and its business model. I was very transparent about the fact that I didn’t want to be a recruiter and my boss mentioned that he was looking to hire someone with my skill set. After talking with him for a month, I landed my current role. It’s incredible to be able to take a passion and turn it into a profession.
What advice do you have for people who feel they’re not qualified enough for a job?
Applying for jobs is an art in itself and it can be a demoralizing process. One thing I tell all applicants and clients is to apply for a job even if you think you’re under qualified and put yourself out there.
From an employer or a hiring manager’s perspective who is placing a job on the Internet with all these qualifications for their ideal candidate, it’s sometimes not possible to find a candidate with all those qualifications.
It’s easy to fall into a negative trance and think you don’t have anything to offer. But, I encourage you to flip that perspective and change the narrative. If you feel you’re unqualified or don’t have a specific skill, talk about your other skills. Talk about what you have to offer because people often sell themself short.
Networking and having conversations with people in your industry can also help you get a job. Don’t be afraid to message people on Linkedin communities because you never know when a conversation can lead to something more.
Have you always wanted to work in climate tech?
When I was applying, I knew what climate technologies are out there, but I didn’t know it was a field within itself. I previously did a lot of internships with grassroots organizations, so I thought I wanted to be in a space where I was fighting for climate change at a policy level. I even wanted to be an environmental lawyer for a bit.
After job searching and learning about climate tech, I realized it was a space that wasn’t all doom and gloom. Climate tech is all about solutions—it’s refreshing because environmental rhetoric can be very negative. Climate tech identifies an issue to solve and creates a plan to alleviate it. I love being a part of that narrative and reinforcing the positive.
How do you define climate tech?
Climate tech is a buzzword that has a rapidly changing landscape. At Climate People, we define climate tech based on three categories: carbon mitigation, carbon adaptation, and carbon sequestration. Any technological service that works to eliminate, remove, or reduce the harms of climate change is considered a climate tech product. These technologies can be industry-specific or fall into countless different categories.
Mitigation involves any technology that reduces or prevents any more carbon from entering into the atmosphere. Carbon adaptation includes technologies that help adjust us to the impacts of climate change. Carbon sequestration involves any technology that removes and stores carbon.
How realistic are the majority of climate tech solutions?
At Climate People, we work with different areas of climate tech. However, we do funnel almost all of our initiatives and resources into mitigation because we’re able to track the process from beginning to end. For example, you look at raw materials, manufacturing, and implementation when creating a product. At every single one of those steps, mitigation technologies can rewrite traditional frameworks and redo our current ways.
In my opinion, mitigation technologies are the most promising, but all sectors have lots of hope. The unfortunate fact is—as climate change gets worse, these technologies and the ways we adopt solutions are growing faster. Advancements are only going to continue getting better as climate change becomes more pressing. It’s simultaneously a good and bad situation.
What do you think about climate justice, especially when climate tech has focused on a specific demographic of people?
It’s an important issue from a recruiting and systemic lens. Environmental issues have impacted historically marginalized communities. These people continue to experience the impacts quicker and more intensely.
From a hiring perspective, it’s essential to recruit a diverse group of people so we can learn from those different experiences. To create and scale these technologies, we need to pull from a variety of experiences.
From a systemic issue, climate technologies are also not distributed equally. One example is the ability to move away from natural gas to electric. It’s easy for someone with a lot of money to quickly make that change. For those who cannot make the switch, they’re stuck with their gas stoves. When the majority stop using gas, the price of gas goes up drastically. Those who are stuck with gas stoves become even more disproportionately disadvantaged.
There are a lot of initiatives out there that are helping to alleviate these issues. I think we need to funnel money into these organizations that are helping to reduce these barriers.
How can people from different backgrounds use their skills for social good?
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t come from an environmental background. Find a way to rewrite the traditional process at your company. For example, if you work at a food packaging company, you can propose the idea of using an alternative material other than plastic.
I know it is easier said than done, but being conscious of what can be done is a start. It goes from the bottom up—if a group of people raise an issue collectively, change can be made. It doesn’t have to come from top to bottom. Taking one single action may not change the entire organization right away, but they still do matter and can have ripple effects.
How do you stay optimistic?
I try to think about the difference I’m making vs. the difference I’m not making. It’s easy to feel discouraged when you feel like you don’t make an impact, but a mindset shift helps me stay optimistic.
Also, it gives me hope that there’s so many amazing people in the industry who have the same passion and drive. It’s hard to be negative when you’re surrounded by such positive and motivated people. Having conversations, attending events, and surrounding yourself with like-minded people is really inspiring.
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