Yana Georgieva FICRS - Senior ESG Consultant, Hoare Lea
How did you get into CRS, and why did you choose this profession?
My CRS journey began whilst I read law at the University of Nottingham! One hot summer towards the end of my degree, I was visiting family in Bulgaria when I stumbled across an opportunity to intern at a local non-profit organisation. They were working on an EU project to facilitate a pan-European knowledge exchange in the implementation of low-carbon strategies in housing renovation. This experience introduced me to the world of sustainable development and the built environment. I was fascinated! I then pursued an MSc in Environmental Technology at Imperial College to build on my technical skills.
Describe a typical day in your current role
I’m a core member of a rapidly growing ESG team within Hoare Lea, a leading multi-disciplinary consultancy firm that specialises in the built environment. I find the socio-economic aspects of sustainability in the built environment particularly fascinating given the impact that built assets have on people’s quality of life. My main focus is on helping organisations rethink how business assets and priorities align to environmental and societal challenges, as well as recognise what’s important for the communities directly impacted by what they do. A “typical” day in my current role can include anything from hosting client workshops to help define an organisation’s most material ESG considerations, undertaking independent research to delivering an ESG / Sustainability CPD session to colleagues from another organisation.
What do you need to do your job brilliantly?
It may sound a bit cliché but I think that to do a sustainability-related job brilliantly the key prerequisite is passion and genuine interest in the subject-matter. Sustainability is not a destination, rather a journey. It’s not something that you achieve and then your organisation is sustainable. Having the resolve and perseverance to effectively help clients at different stages of their journey and address their unique needs is challenging but also rewarding! For example, my team focuses on building relationships with decision-makers at corporate level to help bridge the gap between individual developments and organisational / portfolio-wide strategies. By doing so we believe we can enable better integration and strategic alignment of sustainability ambitions, investor demands and wider societal expectations to maximise positive impact and value creation.
Why did you join the ICRS?
I think ICRS provides a great forum to meet fellow CRS colleagues, facilitate knowledge exchange and keep up to date with trends and developments in the CRS space.
If you didn’t work in CRS, what would you do?
I love animals of all shapes and sizes and when I was little I wanted to become a veterinarian so who knows…maybe that’s my alternative career path in a parallel universe!
What are your favourite and least favourite parts of your role?
The most rewarding aspect of my role is when I get to work with clients who are truly committed to integrating sustainability and ESG in their core operating model and business operations and I’m able to play a part in their journey. My least favourite scenario is when clients view sustainability as a box that they need to tick as opposed to something that can generate value and potentially transform their organisation for the better if implemented effectively. I’m fortunate to work primarily with the first category though!
What makes your sector unique from a CRS perspective?
The global real estate accounts for nearly 40% of our society’s carbon footprint and, therefore, the environmental agenda and net-zero carbon topic is often at the forefront of most sustainability discussions. However, there is another strand of holistic sustainable development which I think is just as critical. Social Value as a constituent element of ESG and responsible corporate action in the built environment affords a unique opportunity to help rediscover the role of our industry in society and our purpose as built environment practitioners to help build communities, not just houses. In my view, this is what makes the built environment truly unique from a CRS perspective – the opportunity to reclaim the purpose of housing and reimagine what we as an industry can do to help address acute societal problems around poverty, inequality and mental health.
If you could change one thing about CRS, what would it be?
I think the key message that all of us CRS professionals probably need to learn to convey more effectively is that integrating sustainability considerations in the core business model rather than addressing the topic in silo as an “add-on” can transform it into a genuine value driver and help organisations tap into new opportunities, gain competitive advantage and protect brand reputation, thus contributing to stronger financial performance.
What do you think are the most important skills for working in CRS?
Strong formal qualifications provide a good foundation for a career in CRS, however, for me given the dynamic nature of our work having the right attitude and fundamental transferable and interpersonal skills is just as important. Being comfortable learning on the job and having a strong appetite for continuous upskilling and development throughout one’s career is what really makes for a great and inspirational CRS professional in my view.