Liana Biasucci ‘21 was an economics and environmental studies double major at Wes whose senior capstone essay was entitled, How to Build Back Better: Greening the Recovery from COVID-19, about using government stimulus packages to advance climate mitigation in the US and combining economic goals with environmental ones (before the Inflation Reduction Act came out). Today, she is a manager at Green Strategies, a sustainability consulting firm.
Tell us about your role at Green Strategies.
Green Strategies is a boutique sustainability consulting firm based in Washington, DC. When I say boutique, there are four of us! We work with companies that want to become more sustainable. Typically, most of our client work is related to buying clean energy and reducing carbon emissions, but we also do some more general kind of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) report advising as well as water conservation, plastic reduction, and some thought leadership work. We really try to focus on climate impact, because companies are spending a lot of money on the ESG and their sustainability reports and we want to make sure they’re having an impact and not just paying lip service to being green.
How did you get involved with Green Strategies and interested in ESG work in general?
I always knew I wanted to do environmental work, and because I was also an econ major, I really wanted to focus on macroeconomics: how economic policy can influence climate issues. But, of course, not much happens on that front in this country. So when I was abroad, studying in Sydney, Australia, right before the pandemic hit, I did an internship with a very similar sustainability consulting firm that did a lot of ESG reporting for companies. Australia’s really big on recycled material and the circular economy, so that was the first time I ever really focused on the intersection of sustainability and business.
My senior year at Wes I applied to about 30 or 40 jobs. The first half of the year I was applying to a lot of analyst positions, because that’s what comes up a lot for econ majors. I don’t do a lot of coding, and I didn’t want my whole job to be that, so I was getting all these rejections but it made sense because I don’t have those skills. So actually I went to the Gordon Career Center, where they asked the question: If you could do anything, what would it be? Where would it be? And I said: I want to work in clean energy in Washington, DC, and they put me in contact with people to network with. I had a lot of really good conversations. Not all of them were fruitful, but all of them gave me ideas of what kind of opportunities were out there, and what I should know. Then I happened to talk with someone who had done a fellowship with the person who had my position and was about to go to grad school, and so he knew they would be hiring. So I sent in my application and got the job!
Do you have anything you’d like to say to or share with Bailey COE students on campus?
I know it’s scary to think about climate change all the time, but now that I’m working on it, I honestly feel less anxious about it because I see that action is being taken and people are really trying to figure out solutions to these problems.
The most important lesson I learned from the COE is how multifaceted environmental problems are and that in order to have true solutions we need to look at all impacts of policies and actions. I love the COE classes I took—and there are a lot more out there than you think. And while activism is great, of course, that’s not the only path for you as an environmental studies linked major! I’d also say that networking is really important, from using the Gordon Career Center to reaching out to people on LinkedIn. And also: Definitely make connections with your professors. I applied for so many jobs, and it can get discouraging, but I landed somewhere I really like, my boss is big on work-life balance–-which I can’t say a lot of people have at this stage in their careers–-and I feel like I’m making a positive impact in the world.