Chicago Green Jobs

Green Job Profile #2: Director of Business Development for WRD Environmental Inc.
March 30, 2009, 6:06 pm
Filed under: Green Job Profiles

When I think “green job” I think “fish hotels.” That’s why this week I’m profiling Thom Boyd of WRD Environmental, the ecological consulting firm that creates sustainable landscapes like pocket parks and fish hotels all over Chicago. Thom is a very interesting guy – I learned a lot about the politics and process around building sustainable landscapes in Chicago from him. (Hint: there are a lot of incentives to install green roofs).

Thom switched to sustainability work mid-career, and his path shows how people from just about any industry can transition into a green job based on experience and skills rather than specific training or certification. Since working for a paycheck is more cost effective than paying for a certification, this is terrific news for anyone feeling stuck at work.

Title and Organization: Director of Business Development for WRD Environmental.

Relevant Training : Experience in sales & marketing

So what do you do all day?

My role consists of building relationships with current clients, networking with potential new clients, exploring new market opportunities, and marketing our services to our industry, governmental entities, municipalities, park districts, corporations and not-for-profits. We do this by attending/presenting at educational seminars, industry trade shows, sponsoring worthwhile causes and engaging people who share our company vision and mission. I also assist with identifying project bid opportunities and getting proposals out the door.

What did you do before you got this job?

My background consists of approximately 25 years of sales, primarily in the medical industry with Johnson & Johnson and Sunrise Medical. I also worked with a real estate development company in a sales and project management capacity. In my case, WRD Environmental was more interested in the skills that I brought to the table rather than having previous experience within the green industry. My passion for the environment and wanting to make a difference to forward the cause of sustainability, protecting our natural resources, cultivating biodiversity and being a good steward of our planet was just as important as my previous experience.

What impact do you have on the community and the planet through your work?

Our firm creates and fosters sustainable landscapes. We conserve natural resources, promote sustainability, cultivate biodiversity and restore nature’s balance through projects and programs that are helping to green Chicago and Illinois. Our work helps to revitalize previously barren landscapes or brownfields to vibrant natural environments like the Chicago Center for Green Technology or the bird sanctuary at McCormick Place. We helped Friends of the Chicago River by creating new fish habitat in the otherwise urban river flowing through downtown Chicago with the “Fish Hotel”. We also help run and administer the Chicago Greencorps program with Chicago’s Department of Environment. This is a training program designed to help ex-offenders acquire new skills within the landscape industry, recycling industry and winterization of homes that they can use to assimilate back into the communities throughout the city.

What 3 essential skills are needed to do your job?

1. To be able to build and maintain relationships

2. To be detail focused and creative at the same time

3. To be a good communicator

What 3 essential personality traits help you succeed in your job?

1. Being down-to-earth

2. Being honest (editor’s note: I think “integrity” would serve here too – a critical trait for people who generate new business)

3. Being personable has served me well!

What is the least glamorous aspect of your job?

Probably the time spent sitting at my computer. I prefer to be out and about and always on the move. Sometimes I’m not able to do that as much as I would prefer.

What is the most influential book you’ve read on sustainability?

Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough

What do you do to keep current on your field and/or expand your knowledge and skills?

Attend seminars, industry conferences, read a lot. I’m also studying to become a LEED AP.

What do you think is a growth area in the green jobs sector right now?

There are lots of areas of growth. I’d say sustainable landscape design, green building, renewable energy.


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