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The rise of the corporate circular economy professional | Greenbiz – GreenBiz



“Circular economy” was the fastest rising skill among all LinkedIn users in 2019, according to GreenBiz’s State of the Profession Report. Although the circular economy’s momentum is undeniable, frankly, this finding still floors me. While nearly all jobs could “go circular” by embracing this strategic lens and adopting its principles, a new class is emerging of specific positions designed to accelerate this transition. 

To better understand these roles, I asked five corporate circular economy professionals — working at big companies and with the specific words “circular economy” or “circularity” in their title — about the scope and skills needed for their work, as well as advice they would offer to anyone looking to get into the field. 

What do you actually do?

A primary function is to set strategy. As lead for circular economy at Google, Mike Werner said he is “responsible for the development of our company-wide circular economy strategy and achieving our mission to maximize the reuse of finite resources across our operations, products and supply chains, and enable others to do the same through the use of our technology.” At European e-commerce company Zalando, head of circularity Laura Coppen told me that she “leads the circularity strategy and [is] responsible for driving our product, service and business model goals.” 

Everyone focuses on internal alignment. Katie Schindall, director of circular economy at Cisco, “leads the enterprise-wide circular economy program… [which] involves a lot of engagement across the company to set and implement strategy, measure and report on impact, and support teams driving initiatives and projects across the business.” 

Coppen described this as functioning like a “spider in the web between internal and external stakeholders. … We bring our strategy to life through co-creating with internal and external stakeholders and ensuring that circularity can happen at scale in the long term.” 

Specific internal partners vary widely. According to Patrick Ford, director of circular economy at Legrand, “My team and I work with our engineering, product management, operations, and sourcing teams to build circular economy and sustainability principles into our core business activities.” At Cisco, Schindall’s work “includes operations, product design and lifecycle management, and the application of technology to help our customers reach their own circular economy goals.” And at Google, Werner told me, “I have the joy and pleasure to work across our entire business, including consumer hardware, real estate and workplaces, corporate IT, data centers, cloud and several of our billion-user products, and even in direct engagement with our customers and external partners.” 

What is the most important skill it takes to do your job?

Having the right mindset is crucial. For Lindsey Kauffman, leader of circular economy at Owens Corning, “It’s important to be comfortable working creatively through relatively uncharted waters.” Having started her role just three months ago, Kauffman is embracing the ambiguity. “The circular economy is a new focus for many corporations and there’s no instruction book on how to solve circular economy challenges, so you need to be okay thinking past the usual and moving forward without having all the answers.” For Ford, “Systems thinking is key to driving circular economy objectives within an organization.” 

Each emphasized the importance of bold leadership. “Leadership and people skills are the most important, especially when operating at a global scale like Google,” Werner said. Legrand’s Coppen echoed this sentiment: “Circularity needs leadership. Setting the direction and being bold with decision making to make circularity come to life.”

For many, this comes down to people skills. At Google, that means thinking strategically about the most effective tools of engagement. “I believe it’s critical to learn how to use the power of narrative storytelling to bring people along on the journey and develop your ability to toggle back and forth between left-brain analytical and right-brain creative thinking and problem solving,” Werner said. 

At Cisco, Schindall uses the same tailored approach to engagement and communication. “It’s the ability to take a lot of complexity and pull it together into something that makes a compelling case, to the right people, for what needs to be done and how it will bring value to the business and support their specific goals.”

What is one piece of advice you would offer a young professional looking to get into the circular economy?

First and foremost, there’s no one way. “There’s no single background or set of skills needed to work in the circular economy,” Schindall told me. “My team has people who have all kinds of backgrounds and expertise, from engineering to supply chain to strategy and business case development to greenhouse gas emissions and life-cycle assessment.” 

This sentiment held true for each of these circular economy professionals. Ford recommends that early-career professionals “look for opportunities to incorporate circular strategies into the ways that you and your team execute on your strategic priorities. Remember that the circular economy is not just for sustainability professionals.” Kauffman underscored the nonlinear path to becoming a circular economy professional. “Be flexible while keeping your end goal in sight. Like solving circular economy challenges, there is no set path to a career in circular economy. It’s a big topic and there are a million ways to approach it.”

And of course, start somewhere. “We need all hands on deck to enable the transition to a circular economy,” Coppen said. “Circularity is the future and will offer a lot of opportunity in the professional world. There are a lot of challenges that need to be solved and who could better contribute to this than the younger generation who knows how people want to shop nowadays?” 

There are a lot of parallels to sustainability professionals. In many ways, what it takes to excel in a circular economy job is similar to what’s needed in sustainability roles: connecting dots and working as an internal cheerleader, course-corrector and champion. As the circular economy evolves from an idea to a set of strategies and into specific roles, there is a lot to be learned from the path of sustainability professionals, and much to be accomplished working beside them to meaningfully impact the course of your organization. 

Werner captured the sentiment well: “As a circular economy and sustainability professional, you are, by definition, an innovator. You are asking a company to go a different direction, expand their values set or to operate their business differently.”

Regardless whether your role has the words “circular economy” in the title or description, I do hope that eventually, it becomes everyone’s responsibility. 

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CANADA STOCKS – TSX ends flat at 19,228.03



* The Toronto Stock Exchange’s TSX falls 0.00 percent to 19,228.03

* Leading the index were Corus Entertainment Inc <CJRb.TO​>, up 7.0%, Methanex Corp​, up 6.4%, and Canaccord Genuity Group Inc​, higher by 5.5%.

* Lagging shares were Denison Mines Corp​​, down 7.0%, Trillium Therapeutics Inc​, down 7.0%, and Nexgen Energy Ltd​, lower by 5.7%.

* On the TSX 93 issues rose and 128 fell as a 0.7-to-1 ratio favored decliners. There were 26 new highs and no new lows, with total volume of 183.7 million shares.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Toronto-dominion Bank, Nutrien Ltd and Organigram Holdings Inc.

* The TSX’s energy group fell 1.61 points, or 1.4%, while the financials sector climbed 0.67 points, or 0.2%.

* West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 0.44%, or $0.26, to $59.34 a barrel. Brent crude  fell 0.24%, or $0.15, to $63.05 [O/R]

* The TSX is up 10.3% for the year.

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Canadian dollar outshines G10 peers, boosted by jobs surge



Canadian dollar

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian dollar advanced against its broadly stronger U.S. counterpart on Friday as data showing the economy added far more jobs than expected in March offset lower oil prices, with the loonie also gaining for the week.

Canada added 303,100 jobs in March, triple analyst expectations, driven by the recovery across sectors hit by shutdowns in December and January to curb the new coronavirus.

“The Canadian economy keeps beating expectations,” said Michael Goshko, corporate risk manager at Western Union Business Solutions. “It seems like the economy is adapting to these closures and restrictions.”

Stronger-than-expected economic growth could pull forward the timing of the first interest rate hike by the Bank of Canada, Goshko said.

The central bank has signaled that its benchmark rate will stay at a record low of 0.25% until 2023. It is due to update its economic forecasts on April 21, when some analysts expect it to cut bond purchases.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.3% higher at 1.2530 to the greenback, or 79.81 U.S. cents, the biggest gain among G10 currencies. For the week, it was also up 0.3%.

Still, speculators have cut their bullish bets on the Canadian dollar to the lowest since December, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed. As of April 6, net long positions had fallen to 2,690 contracts from 6,518 in the prior week.

The price of oil, one of Canada‘s major exports, was pressured by rising supplies from major producers. U.S. crude prices settled 0.5% lower at $59.32 a barrel, while the U.S. dollar gained ground against a basket of major currencies, supported by higher U.S. Treasury yields.

Canadian government bond yields also climbed and the curve steepened, with the 10-year up 4.1 basis points at 1.502%.


(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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Canadian dollar rebounds from one-week low ahead of jobs data



Canadian dollar

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) -The Canadian dollar strengthened against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday, recovering from a one-week low the day before, as the level of oil prices bolstered the medium-term outlook for the currency and ahead of domestic jobs data on Friday.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.4% higher at 1.2560 to the greenback, or 79.62 U.S. cents. On Wednesday, it touched its weakest intraday level since March 31 at 1.2634.

“We have seen partial retracement from the decline over the last couple of days,” said Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets.

“With oil prices where they are – let’s call WCS still at roughly $49 a barrel – I still think CAD has room to strengthen over the medium term and even over a one-week horizon.”

Western Canadian Select (WCS), the heavy blend of oil that Canada produces, trades at a discount to the U.S. benchmark. U.S. crude futures settled 0.3% lower at $59.60 a barrel, but were up nearly 80% since last November.

The S&P 500 closed at a record high as Treasury yields fell following softer-than-anticipated labor market data, while the U.S. dollar fell to a two-week low against a basket of major currencies.

Canada‘s employment report for March, due on Friday, could offer clues on the Bank of Canada‘s policy outlook. The central bank has become more upbeat about prospects for economic growth, while some strategists expect it to cut bond purchases at its next interest rate announcement on April 21.

On a more cautious note for the economy, Ontario, Canada‘s most populous province, initiated a four-week stay-at-home order as it battles a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canadian government bond yields were lower across a flatter curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries. The 10-year fell 3.3 basis points to 1.469%.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith;Editing by Alison Williams and Jonathan Oatis)

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