Welcome to Meet our Activators! During this series, we will share insights on what it is like to be an Anthesis Activator. Find out how members of our team started their careers in sustainability, the exciting projects they’re working on and advice for people starting out in their sustainability career.
In this interview, we are featuring Zachary de Jong, Consultant II in North America at Anthesis.
Tell us about your current role at Anthesis and how you got here.
During my Masters education in Sustainability and time working in the industry, I developed a real interest in corporate responsibility and understanding how major companies were positioning themselves to address the climate crisis. I felt like major companies, if they had the right strategies and incentives, would be an effective means of mitigating climate change regardless of changes in policy climate or political leadership.
I found Anthesis during my years in school, and after gaining some experience I jumped at the chance to join the team. I knew they were doing a diverse range of work for really significant clients, and that it would be an excellent place to make the impact I was looking to. As a consultant, I was given the trust and direction needed to carve a role for myself working 4 days a week for Amazon, driving sustainability in their product development. When I wasn’t working on that main project, I was encouraged to meet and learn from my welcoming and knowledgeable colleagues and get exposure to other core consulting tasks. I learned a lot from my first year and transitioned over time to managing projects and focusing on materiality assessment and strategy development.
“Everyone I’ve worked with on projects, all my managers, anyone I’ve ever spoken to for advice, and our North American CEO, Chantelle; they all care about you, your well-being, and your success.”
What do you like most about working at Anthesis?
There are a lot of great things about working at Anthesis- the work-life balance, the impact you can have with your work, the diversity of projects and experience. The best thing, though, is the people. Everyone I’ve worked with on projects, all my managers, anyone I’ve spoken to for advice, and our North American CEO, Chantelle; they all care about you, your well-being, and your success. They also happen to generally be very funny and smart people, and we have a lot of fun!
What is your most memorable work moment?
Seeing the launch of Amazon Aware, a sustainable product line featuring all carbon-neutral certified products made with greener materials was really cool to see. I had been helping behind-the-scenes with product development and certification for months, and it was a great moment to see the outcome of my work and know it had a tangible impact.
What opportunities have you had at Anthesis to further your career?
Anthesis exposes you to some of the biggest companies in the world, where teams are working diligently to minimize impacts and set the course for sustainable action. Getting exposure to those clients, that work profile, and over time getting to own pieces of the project delivery, or whole projects, is an opportunity for career development that is impossible to replicate with a course or at many other companies. Anthesis gives you the tools, training, and progression to get there.
Tell us about other experiences that you’ve had through your role at Anthesis.
Anthesis recently began offering co-working spaces once per month for those who want to meet in the office. Last month, about 20 Anthesians got together in Southern Ontario, including our North American CEO Chantelle and the members of the newly joined Anthesis Provision team. We got to work, but also had a great time sharing our work experiences, looking for synergies, and enjoying some great local food and drink. It was my first time meeting anyone in person from Anthesis, and we had a blast. I look forward to connecting more regularly and getting that in person collaboration and socializing!
When you’re not at work, how do you spend your time?
I spend as much of my down time hiking or enjoying the many patios and parks in my neighbourhood. Last year I took some time off to do a hiking tour in British Columbia and try to take advantage of the flexibility Anthesis offers on working from home to visit family cottages or friends. I also have a furry little distraction at home- a Golden Retriever puppy named Pippin who keeps me busy when she’s not snoozing through my work calls.
What’s the best advice you can give to someone who just started their career?
There are a lot of different avenues for work within the sustainability field: strategy, carbon, circularity, water, packaging, materials, supply chain, finance, and on and on. As much as possible, I would recommend getting broad exposure so you can home in on where you want to establish yourself. Even within those specialties, it helps to have an understanding of the others (especially in consulting) so you can see peripheral opportunities for impact.
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Anthesis has offices in the U.S., Canada, UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Finland, Colombia, Brazil, China, the Philippines and the Middle East.