Climate change management and green projects are offering new career avenues. Here's how you can do your bit for the cause of the environment as you expand your horizons.
The heat is on. With concerns over global warming rising the world over, making a career out of global warming-rather cooling-seems to be the next big thing awaiting careerists.
Nitin Shete, Vice President (Biodiesel Technology), Praj Industries, India, and Sudipta Das, Partner (Risk Advisory), Ernst & Young India, have little in common in terms of the sectors they represent, but both of them have been close witnesses to the emergence of environment as the focal point for India Inc.
When Shete joined Praj Industries in 1998, he started working with the technology development division. "The last seven to eight years of my professional journey have been very interesting since Kyoto Protocol came to the forefront. With environment-friendly and clean technologies becoming the order of the day, exponential growth is taking place in terms of both technology and manpower," says the post-graduate in microbiology from Pune University.
Sudipta Das' first brush with clean development mechanism (CDM) was in the year 2000 when Ernst & Young (E&Y) became a part of World Bank-initiated studies in CDM. Says Das: "E&Y realised the potential of climate change management very early." From the initial team of six, the climate change advisory team has 68 members today. This is being scaled up to 90 in the current financial year, adds Das.
At Praj, a leading bio-fuel technology provider, the talent hunt is also peaking, says Vinati Moghe, Vice-President, Corporate Communications. From 280 employees in 2004-05, the company's rolls expanded to 618 employees in 2006-07. This is being increased to 900 employees during 2007-08.
What makes clean technologies and CDM so important in India Inc.'s scheme of things? Sample this: the number of CDM projects registered with UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), which ratifies these green projects, rose to 690 in June 2007 from 183 in May 2006. The number of projects in the pipeline stands at 1,600. More than 35 per cent of the existing 690 projects are in India, according to UNFCCC.
These projects have spawned a new set of jobs that will continue to be in demand over the next few years, according to CDM experts.
"The action is mainly in renewable and non-renewable energy, agriculture, waste handling and disposal, manufacturing, forestry, transport and consultancies," says Vivek Kumar, Associate Fellow, Centre for Global Environment Research, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).
"There is acute shortage of manpower for CDM project implementation in the conventional power sector, construction industry and energy-efficiency areas, across all sectors," observes M. Prabhakar Rao, Manager (New Projects & CDM), GMR Industries, which has four CDM projects at present.
At Ranbaxy, the green initiatives are centred on reducing the environmental burden of greenhouse gases (GHG) and the conservation of natural resources and energy. Explains Ramesh Adige, Executive Director, Ranbaxy: "With increasing global focus on the issue of climate change and the introduction of voluntary carbon trading initiatives, considerable work has been done on CDM projects within Ranbaxy's India operations." As a result, the GHG burden at Ranbaxy plants in Toansa, Mohali and Paonta Sahib has been considerably reduced.
For initiatives like these, Ranbaxy has a full-fledged EHS (environment, health and safety) department employing around160 qualified professionals, up from a strength of 100 three years ago.
At Gujarat Fluorochemicals (GFL), one of the first movers in carbon trading initiatives, CDM-related employment is seen as part of the bigger picture. Says Deepak Asher, Executive Director, GFL: "We have a techno-economical team of 8-10 that handles the CDM project while simultaneously, the project work is outsourced."
The project work is outsourced to companies like Senergy Global, which trades in carbon-emission reductions (CERs) and also facilitates the creation of CER assets for sustainable-energy projects.
These techno-economic jobs have taken centrestage as environment spells money.
» Chemical Engineers
» Mechanical Engineers
» Environment managers
» Executives conversant with Kyoto Protocol Methodologies and CDM Project Cycle
» Energy-renewable and non-renewable
» Waste handling & disposal
Chintan Shah, Head, Regulatory Affairs and Carbon Credits, Senergy Global, sees the potential for knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) in joint implementation (JI) projects. "It's a documentation-driven process. There is a huge potential for Indian companies to get into this KPO vertical globally."
The green initiatives cover every economic sector and CDM projects are taken up at various levels--by small as well as big companies. As a result, the job profiles too vary.
Says Ghanshyam Deshpande, Vice-President, Ethanol Technology, Praj Industries India: "In clean technologies, we need bio-chemical engineers as well as with pure chemical engineers."
As with management of other projects, "skills in managing people will be an added advantage", adds Prakash Wagle, Director, EHS, Ranbaxy.
A fresh graduate of TERI University's two-year programme on Natural Resource Management, Himani Bist is now working at Cantor co2e India, a carbon asset management company. At the entry level, she will work on product design development and in business development at the later stages of her career. "I expect my profile to change as the market evolves," she says.
The green sector has already attracted talent that's looking for a job with a cause. Ashutosh Pandey, 29, is CDM Practice Leader, Climate Change Mitigation Business, Emergent Ventures India, a CDM advisory company. A chemical engineer and an IIM Calcutta post-graduate, Pandey worked in management consulting and technology consulting companies before joining EVI in January 2005. "Apart from the charm of wealth creation, the main motivation behind quitting a high-paying consulting career was to create a new business, work in an area that has a positive impact on the society and also the novelty of the business concept that is unlike routine consulting, finance and marketing jobs," says Pandey.
Another factor that spurs action in CDM projects is the satisfaction of creating jobs. Says Vinod Kala, Director, Emergent Ventures: "While there are a lot for careerists in climate change management, projects related to sectors like bio-fuel plantation have a very big impact on rural employment."
A pointer to the growing demand for human resources in climate management is the rising number of students in the post-graduate courses at the TERI University. "From 15 students in 2003-04, the number has doubled to 31 students for the current batch of Masters in Environment Studies as well as in Natural Resource Management," says Group Captain (Retd.) Rajiv Seth, Registrar, TERI University.
But these numbers are not sufficient. "Not only are these students getting placed, there is an increased demand for research associates from both the corporate sector and environmental agencies," says a TERI spokesperson.
With demand exceeding supply, the pay packets have become heftier for these TERI students-entry level research associates from TERI's class of 2007 are being paid Rs 5.5 lakh to Rs 6.5 lakh per annum compared to Rs 3.5 lakh per annum two years ago.
While E&Y compensations "match the best in the industry", Praj Industries has seen a gradual increase in salaries as well. Says Rajendra Ghare, Vice-President (HR), Praj Industries: "At the entry level, which is graduate engineer trainee, the increase has been 15-20 per cent while at senior levels, it has been as much as 25 per cent."
The well-skilled environment workforce gets huge returns in learning and job satisfaction. Says Rajesh Nair, Manager (Risk and Business Solutions), E&Y India: "Apart from the competitive compensation, there's the attraction of working in different industries for different projects. The job also entails high-end training. All in all, it makes a good proposition for long-term career growth."
There's more. Join the pot-pourri green workforce and you will no longer feel like a small cog in a large corporate machine.