Holly Pettingale is a Director of Sustainability and ESG at FTI Consulting, and she is a full-time PorterShed member. As part of our Galway’s Calling series, Trevor Murray sat down with Holly to find out how she ended up in Galway, what her current role involves, and what her thoughts are on the efforts of big businesses to actually be sustainable.
Having moved from England a year ago, Holly has truly settled in Galway. She explains why the city really appeals to her as a working professional with a love of the outdoors.
“Galway’s a lovely size and it has so much going on. It almost feels like it has more going on than a city like London because you can find it all. There is something for everyone here. All of the outdoor activities, which I really like – even though it rains all the time which means you can’t do them – and you’ve got Connemara on your doorstep, the Burren on your doorstep, and I love being by the sea.
“As a city, it has everything you could possibly want in a small space. It really is just a lovely place where I think you can really feel at home quite quickly.”
And then there’s the PorterShed, which Holly believes is an important part of the fabric of the city – and one that has helped her to settle.
“The PorterShed makes such a big difference. It provides a social atmosphere and the ability to really focus while upstairs and then to come downstairs to socialise in the kitchen. It provides that happiness at work where – even if you loved your job elsewhere, I don’t think you’d get that same feeling just sat at your desk on your own.
“And obviously because I only moved to Galway a year ago, it’s made a massive difference in terms of allowing me to integrate into Galway and have a bit more of a life here,” she says.
Having studied Mathematical Sciences at the University of Bath, she ultimately went on to complete a Masters in Business Sustainability which was something of a departure. Now an experienced sustainability professional, Holly is an expert in her field and has specialised in a variety of sub-sectors within the sustainability field, including food and agriculture, GHG emissions, and the circular economy.
So, why did Holly decide to pursue a career in sustainability and what is it that’s keeping her involved?
“I’ve always struggled to work hard when I don’t think I’m doing something for the right reasons,” she explains.
“By working in sustainability, I’m trying to make an impact and influence companies to do the right thing. It gives me that meaning and it makes me work harder, and at the end of the day, I can feel that bit better about what I’ve done. So, instead of seeing work as a means to money, I see work as a means to have an impact.”
For a number of years, now, Holly has worked with a variety of companies to engage in the fight against climate change inaction, and in her current role with FTI Consulting, she is striving to get companies on side to engage in sustainable practices that can benefit the world. As Holly explains, climate change has become such an important topic – and justifiably so – that companies are now coming to people like Holly and companies like FTI to learn how to do more and do better.
“We now don’t really need to approach companies. We almost don’t have the time to approach companies, because so many are coming to us for help, so it’s really shifted from us having to go out and create awareness around sustainability to almost having to turn down business,” Holly explains.
It’s a positive trend and one that highlights the idea that companies are attempting to actually make a difference in the day-to-day running of their sustainability operations.
But Holly still has to encourage companies to play their part.
“The thing I’m really most proud of in my current role is when you convince someone who doesn’t want to do anything on sustainability to do something,” Holly explains.
“It can be so difficult to convince people to do something, and when they say ‘we’ll do something for diversity and inclusion’ or ‘we’ll start to reduce our emissions’, there’s such a sense of achievement in that because that’s such a big barrier to overcome, but once you have that buy-in, it sort of flows from there.”
Clearly, there’s still so much work to do for sustainability professionals like Holly who are fighting the good fight and attempting to turn the tide against climate malpractice and the idea of doing something just to be seen to do something.
So, what’s Holly’s advice for how anyone can make a difference and engage more with sustainability?
“The advice I would give is to work out how you can have an impact in your role. It doesn’t have to be getting your entire company to change to electric cars, but it could be that you work in procurement, so you could help find some sustainable suppliers. Or maybe you work in tech and you could switch to a low-carbon cloud service or think of a way to use tech to make other companies more sustainable.
“Even if it’s a tiny difference – thinking of how you can use your job to make a positive change is really powerful. If everyone did that, we’d be in a much better place.”
By Trevor Murray