Making a Difference: How to Transition Your Career to Sustainable Development

In this episode, you'll learn how to make a career change to sustainability. We chat with Michael Bambrick from Ferguson and discuss how he made the career transition and what he's learned when making the transition. We also explore how to connect your previous profession to sustainability and where to start.

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Read what we discussed

Karl Yeh:

My guest today is Michael Bambrick. He is the ESG data analyst with Ferguson. Thank you very much, Michael, for joining us today.

Michael Bambrick:

Thanks for having me, Karl. Happy to be here.

Karl Yeh:

Michael, I know you've made the career change to sustainability. Why did you make that change? And maybe tell us what were you doing before?

Career change to sustainability

Michael Bambrick:

Yeah. Before I made the change, I was in the healthcare industry, mainly looking at research there. And one of the big things that made me change from that field to sustainability was the wide impact that it has.

It touches just about every facet of our life, of our personal lives, of our professional lives.

And what we do here has a global impact. I don't think that there's a single sector or area of this globe that sustainability doesn't touch or help in some way. This field also is constantly and rapidly growing, expanding.

There's so much to learn, and that really just speaks to me as I like to think of myself as an academic at heart.

And if I'm not in a position where I'm learning, making an impact, or driving that change, I feel like I'm stagnating.

And sustainability is a place where you can really just day in, day out, make that impact, make that difference, and that's what drew me to it and I had to make that change there.

Karl Yeh:

You know what's fascinating is this space, just being new to even the social impact space myself, is that there's a lot of people that are coming from a wide variety of fields.

So it isn't just people that came up, maybe they had a degree in the sciences, maybe they... We're talking about from all industries, PR, communication, sciences, and so on.

So it's really fascinating that this field is getting talented people from all these different fields, and it's contributing to a very unique, I guess, unique levels of perspective when you're going into it.

Michael Bambrick:

Absolutely. It needs buy-in at every single level, and we need perspectives from all walks of life and all backgrounds.

Because if it's only people who are just looking at the ecologic impact or looking at the economic impact, we're not going to solve the whole picture. So we need to have people bringing their diverse backgrounds, bringing their past experiences, and tying that into sustainability.

Because I think some people might have the impression that sustainability is this square hole and they need to be that square peg to fit into it.

But there's just about every single type of a hole possible. There's circle, square, triangle, hexagon, for every single specialty out there that each person can bring their own impact to the table. And I think that's key to what makes sustainability core to what we do.

Karl Yeh:

Let's talk about your transition.

  • How did you make that transition?
  • Who did you talk to?
  • Were there any educational requirements that you needed, upgrades to your skills?
  • How did that work?

Michael's career change

Michael Bambrick:

To be honest, I just did it one day.

I decided that I wanted to make this change and I talked to my friend and now coworker, Michael Wong, and he basically helped to give me that push, that little oomph to ask the right questions, to know, "All right, I need to look more into the Scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas emissions.

I need to look at the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and really start to think critically about how sustainability impacts our daily life, how it impacts corporations, how it impacts governments." And it wasn't like I needed a specific additional education requirement, but it was more of just constantly having that inquisitive nature and an eye towards sustainability.

Karl Yeh:

I'm always curious because of the diverse range of backgrounds. Were you able to connect what you previously did to your work today?

Connecting previous professional experience to sustainability

Michael Bambrick:

Yeah. Not in the way that I might think. It's not like I was able to bring in the specific protein pathways or receptor activators, but it was that interdisciplinary approach that research has where you're sitting at this juncture in between, in my case, doctors, MRI techs, psychologists, physical therapists, and you're integrating all of that together.

And sustainability can be that great integrator where you're integrating things such as finance, supply chain, internal operations, and bringing that all into one cohesive unit to try to better it.

And I think also within the research sphere, it's helped to give me the ability to parse through all of the information out there.

There certainly is a lot of it as you're well aware, and to know what's important information and what's noise to really take a critical eye towards that.

And I think those two skills were ones that I was able to really translate over into this current position.

Karl Yeh:

So Michael, if somebody was planning to make this transition from whatever field they're in, what advice would you give?

Advice for making the career transition

Michael Bambrick:

I would tell them that it's the perfect time to make that transition.

That if they get in now, they're at the ground level.

The space is constantly changing and constantly evolving, that if someone were to get into the sustainability field, they're not going to behind. They're not going to be playing catch up.

They're going to be asking the same questions that people who have been in the field from the start are asking.

And I would tell them always be inquisitive. Constantly ask questions.

Even those questions that you might think are the stupid questions might be the core questions that other people might not have even considered.

So for those people who are thinking about it, bring your skillset, bring your fresh ideas, listen to those who are within the space and reach out to those within the sustainability sphere because there is a wealth of resources and they're happy to help.

These people all want to see you succeed, want to exchange information, because at the end of the day, we're all in this together trying to make the world a better place, honestly.

Karl Yeh:

Now, with this transition, I would imagine it's probably easier if the organization business that you're working for has these, I guess, these programs and these people in them.

How about for somebody who is working for a company that maybe doesn't have a sustainability program or project that's in them? What advice would you give to that person?

What if your company doesn't have a sustainability program?

Michael Bambrick:

I would say for that person that they should become the sustainability champion.

How some companies will have that tech person or the computer guru become the sustainability guru, the one that is driving those initiatives internally, whether they be small of just bringing more recycling or trying to help educate people.

They might not be a set in stone sustainability journey that that company has, but the more people that you get thinking about it, the more people you get engaged with it, the more it just becomes ingrained into everything that we do.

Because at the end of the day, we need to make sure that sustainability is a part of everything that we do on a daily basis.

Karl Yeh:

And is it something where you're making that full transition to this role, or is it more of I want to get a program up and then maybe transition my role to that program?

Michael Bambrick:

I would say it really depends on the person. If your passion is the current role that you are in but you're also really invested in sustainability, you don't need to make that full transition and put your previous job behind you.

But if this is someone who wants to really sink their teeth into sustainability and their current job or current company doesn't have those current resources in place, I would say that they should start to build it out to get buy-in from all of those around them and show that they can in fact link this idea of profit and purpose together to really have that broad buy-in to spearhead and champion their own sustainability program within their organization.

Karl Yeh:

So Michael, I know a lot of our audiences, and they've asked a lot of questions. They've made a lot of comments about career transition.

So if some of them want to reach out to you, what's the best place to reach you?

Michael Bambrick:

I'm happy to take any questions that people have at my work email.

It's And I'm still learning so I'm more than happy to share any insights that I learn with them because I want to connect with all of those people out there because they're wealth of resources. I hope to be a wealth of resources.

And together, we can solve this,

That's the best way to go about it, at