A decade ago, working with my game-changing professional coach Brooke Vuckovick (whose practice now is exclusive to senior executives), I set a goal of establishing a consulting firm. At the time, with a newborn son and rewarding job leading the City of Chicago’s climate action plan, that idea seemed a bit far-fetched.
But, I’m thrilled to introduce Climate Resilience Consulting. It turns out one can chart a career path to gain experience and insights that provide authentic and useful counsel to clients.
Two other women were critical to my move, each at key moments in my journey. With Brooke’s sage advice and several more years of experience innovating climate mitigation, adaptation, air quality and storm water management efforts for the City of Chicago, I headed to the private sector, counseling Fortune 500 clients on how to make their corporate social responsibility efforts substantive for PR giant Edelman’s “Business + Social Purpose” practice.
My boss, Jane Madden, a mentor of remarkable knowledge and insights, asked me to blog. She maintained that I had a distinctive perspective on the world, that adaptation was new and controversial and that I should share my voice. As those of you who blog know, the discipline of writing and the pressure to get even 200 words on paper several times a month, provides a great excuse for clarifying one’s thinking and keeping a record of the evolution of ideas and knowledge. The Climate Adaptation Exchange, which celebrates five years in August, helped me stay focused on adaptation even as my day-to-day work revolved mostly around sustainability.
After several years at Edelman counseling dozens of clients from Humana to the Chicago Botanic Garden to PricewaterhouseCoopers, I was recruited to help establish the Global Adaptation Index (now the Global Adaptation Initiative) at the University of Notre Dame. Early in my quest to bring ND-GAIN to the next levels of impact and effectiveness, I met Emilie Mazzacurati, president and founder of the successful and esteemed Four Twenty Seven climate consultancy. She made it clear that you can serve clients of every ilk, helping them to define and meet their adaptation needs, employing remarkable talent to serve market needs, and creating a robust company.
Today, after three years at ND-GAIN, the market appears riper than ever. Of course, the Paris Climate Agreement invites nations, companies and cities to make adaptation a goal of their climate efforts. And the sustainable development goals place a clear priority on adaptation.
But more impressive, because it steps from the realm of bureaucracy to that of market leadership, The World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Perception Survey unveils the failure of climate mitigation and adaptation as the No. 1 risk in terms of impact.
Further, the Global Adaptation Resilience Initiative based on Wall Street with leadership from dozens of financiers looking for bankable adaptation projects suggests that adaptation has moved from sustainability objective to market niche. It seems likely that very soon, the perceived risk of the growing threat of climate change, the bureaucracy of governments in the world committing to climate action and the anticipation of Wall Street will generate the foundation required for companies to embark on their adaptation journey. I am here to help them.