Profile: Greg Chant-Hall FIEMA CEnv Operations director, Square Gain

Published on: 30 Jul 2021

GREGWhy did you become an environment/sustainability professional?  
From a young age I loved being outdoors and being close to nature: cycling, surfing, walking. When you get close to nature, you get to understand its beauty and power – whether it’s a storm while you’re up a mountain or a huge wave crashing down on you.

What was your first job in this field?
I first worked for the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers in Brighton.

How did you get your first role?
Luck! I started doing some voluntary work and was then given a paid role, which then led to another and so on. I think that first job was the only time I ever responded to a job advert.

What does your current role involve?
My role is a mix of strategy and operations around Square Gain’s focus areas: the built environment, sustainable finance and supply chains. And, of course, there’s always admin, which is something I have to make myself do.

How has your role changed/progressed over the past few years?
I’ve witnessed a few milestones, starting when people came and knocked on my door asking for help, rather than me having to chase them down. In recent years, we’ve seen a mass awakening – helped by the mainstream media, which has driven public awareness and priority. During the past couple of years, Square Gain has increased our focus on supporting the public sector, and we have seen a huge increase in our carbon action planning and implementation work.

What’s the best part of your work?
I love the interaction, and learning from the perspectives of all the interesting people you meet when running training sessions. It’s a bit tougher to do that through a screen, but even through lockdowns I’ve lucky enough to build great new relationships.

What’s the hardest part of your job?
There are lots of hard bits, and always peaks and troughs, but the hardest part for me is admin – I hate it, but luckily others are much better at it than me.

What was the last development event you attended?
We’ve been running a lot of events lately that are linked to what we think will be the world’s first net-zero carbon standard, which we are co-authoring with Mott Macdonald for the NHS. I also attended a great session by the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures Knowledge Hub.

What did you bring back to your job?
The session linked to how Square Gain is helping local authorities make their projects attractive to environment, social and governance investment, so these positive impacts can be funded, accelerated and scaled.

What is/are the most important skill(s) for your job?
The most important thing is to listen to your clients and partners and understand what they want, so you can see how you can best help.

Where do you see the profession going?
As professionals, we’ve made a good start at integrating ourselves into the mainstream decision-making of organisations. I’d love to see everyone having sustainability skills as a core competency, with metrics so that we 
can truly embed it.

Where would you like to be in five years’ time?
Doing more of the same, and working with more great people to make our own little contribution in positive ways.

What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?
Work hard, prove yourself and stay in touch with those who know what you can do.

How do you use the IEMA Skills Map?
It’s a great tool – I use it informally with clients to highlight potential gaps and areas we can develop.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Passionate, enthusiastic, determined.

What motivates you?
Seeing when someone is delighted by something you’ve done for them.

What would be your personal motto?
Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Greatest risk you have ever taken?
Co-founding a company, but I wouldn’t change it.

If you could go back in history, who would you like to meet?
One is still alive! It’s hard to choose between Sir David Attenborough or Steve Irwin, both passionate protagonists for the natural world in very different ways! Both believe that humans want to save things they love.