From Emerging Professionals to Industry Leaders

What does it take to go from emerging professional to expert in the sustainability field? Four former Emerging Professionals (EP) Committee co-chairs joined us earlier this month at our From EP to Industry Leaders event to recount how their careers have developed hand-in-hand with Urban Green’s EP community.

Ten years ago, EP—then known as the Emerging Green Builders—was a fledgling team of volunteers organized by Audi Banny Nagi. Now the Director of Corporate Sustainability Initiatives at Estée Lauder, Nagi started the group as an interior design intern trying to bridge the gap between education and practice in the sustainability field.

Her four-year tenure as EP chair helped her continue to learn and cultivate patience in educating others in the industry. Beyond education, Lee Beckman (MechoSystems), a 2013–14 co-chair who initiated our EP Programs Committee, emphasized how his leadership role helped him hone skills to collaborate with and inspire his peers.

All four panelists noted how participating in the Urban Green community allowed them to establish and maintain connections to senior staff and mentors in the field, as well as peers who supported each other on the path towards industry leadership.

So, what does it really take? Beckman recommended to Emerging Professionals in the audience to simply “keep showing up at events like this” to continue learning and networking, while Nagi suggested maintaining a “rolodex of ideas and companies.” Nicole McGlinn (Kohn Pedersen Fox), 2011–12 co-chair and current Urban Green Council Board member, urged the audience to step out of their comfort zones in pursuit of new skills. And when the road less travelled leads to obstacles with no clear solution? “Fake it till you make it,” she says.

Jessica Cooper (Delos Living), who co-chaired alongside McGlinn in 2012 and previously served as Public Programs Manager at Urban Green, underscored the importance of rising to new challenges with confidence. Whatever you do, she says, it’s important to be “doing it with pride, making eye contact with people, and being forthcoming.”

The careers of our past co-chairs have taken leaps, as has EP as a whole. Since its start in 2004, the EP network has grown to over 100 members, connected through events and activities coordinated by our EP Programs Committee and its co-chairs. But EP events are open to all, and serve as an ongoing resource to anyone interested in building a career in the sustainability field.

This recap was written by EP Programs Committee members, Kiumars Amiri and R.J. Panda (panel moderator).

Thank you to Designtex for hosting this panel.

About the author

Kiumars Amiri
Kiumars Amiri is a member of Urban Green's Emerging Professionals Programs Committee.