Sustainability Consulting: A World of Opportunity

As a consultant in the sustainability sector, having a strategic mindset and endless curiosity is essential. Martin Smit, Class of 2020, entering his fourth year at PwC in New York, sees significant potential in the industry for those interested in pursuing careers in sustainability.

NYUAD: What skills or qualities are essential in your field?

That’s a good question, I believe curiosity is fundamental. NYUAD students are really curious, not just about solving problems in math and science but also about exploring different cultures and areas of study. Curiosity helps in sustainability because it’s not typically taught in elementary and secondary school. If you’re in this field, it’s because you’re out there, curious, and want to explore.

I encourage NYUAD students to look into sustainability careers because the sector will continue to grow. As we progress in the climate transition, we will discover new areas needing exploration, and the industry will grow exponentially.

NYUAD: How did NYUAD prepare you for a consulting career?

My major, economics, is highly conducive to consulting. Consulting allows you to apply your knowledge strategically and quantitatively, solving various problems by leveraging a broad understanding of economics and societal dynamics. This is the essence of the education at NYUAD.

NYUAD: Can you describe your current role at PwC and the work involved?

As a sustainability consultant, my work is dependent on the project. Currently, I am developing a target state operating model for an ESG reporting program to fulfill its strategic capabilities, including all the disclosures, reports, data, and tech behind them. My work involves a balanced mix of strategy formulation, research, and day-to-day problem-solving.

NYUAD: How have you seen perspectives on sustainability change in the corporate world?

Historically, companies have been very profit-driven, but I think this perspective is being challenged. It’s not just profit and risk; it’s also impact. It’s both about how environmental and societal changes are impacting your organization and also how your organization is impacting the environment and society up and down the value chain.

NYUAD: What motivates your dedication to sustainability?

One of the things that drives me is my care and appreciation of Mother Earth. We’ve grown up seeing horrific things happening around the world. From armed conflict to forced migration, events are catalyzed and/or exacerbated in some part due to water stress, food insecurity, and the like. Sometimes we forget that these events are driven by climate change as well as nature and biodiversity loss. We have to do everything possible now to solve this. That’s why I care so much.