Career profile: Beth Knight FIEMA

Published on: 29 Jan 2021

bethWhy did you become an environment and sustainability professional?
I wanted to do something meaningful that motivated me and used my talents to make a difference.

What was your first job in this field?
As a management consultant with Accenture, where I specialised in organisational change and technology innovation. When I saw the impact I could have in the third sector, I became passionate about working with these clients and my career grew from there.

How did you get your first role?
I took a secondment to work with Oxfam on an organisational change project to restructure its IT department and ‘green’ its IT strategy.

What does your current role involve?
I lead Amazon in the Community for Europe – with the mission to “harness Amazon’s unique spirit of innovation, limitless grit, and infinite heart to help build strong communities”.

How has your role changed/progressed over the past few years?
My role changes constantly, as Amazon’s culture is built around solving ‘impossible’ problems and making a difference using a more hands-on approach than traditional corporate philanthropy.

What’s the best part of your work?
I work hard with my fellow Amazonians to dive deep with our community partners and find solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

What’s the hardest part of your job?
The scale of challenges our world faces right now, particularly since the COVID-19 outbreak, means the need in our communities is greater than ever.

What was the last development event you attended?
The UN Sustainable Development Goal Action Zone’s virtual summit.

What did you bring back to your job?
Renewed energy and conviction around the impact that can be achieved when you bring smart, dedicated people together to solve a problem.

What are the most important skills for your job?
I wrote a research paper on this, called A Behavioural Competency Model for Sustainability Leaders.

Where do you see the profession going?
It has to grow – by their very nature, corporate responsibility and sustainability professionals are addressing complex, multifaceted problems that organisations have a role in solving.

Where would you like to be in five years’ time?
Working part-time in the corporate world and part-time on an eco-friendly smallholding with my family, constantly improving how I ‘live my best life’ within planetary boundaries.

What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?
Follow your passion because it will keep you motivated. Surround yourself with people who give you energy. Be clear about the impact you want to have, and keep focus.

How do you use the IEMA Skills Map?
I was part of the consultation group that helped to develop the Skills Map and think it’s a great way to build on your strengths as a change agent.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Mother, eco-warrior, STEMinist.

What motivates you?
Mentoring and coaching others. Tackling difficult projects and solving complex problems. Coming up with creative ideas to improve something. Learning new things.

What would be your personal motto?
“Dewys bewnans”, which is Cornish for “embrace life”.

Greatest risk you have ever taken?
Moving with my husband and young children to Kenya for a year to work on addressing gender-based violence in urban slums.

If you could go back in history, who would you like to meet?
Kenyan social, environmental and political activist Wangari Maathai – the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.