Laura Nelson Spotlight

Practitioner Spotlight--Laura Nelson

February 1st, 2017

Name: 

Laura Nelson

Office: 

Denver, CO

Practice Area: 

Sustainability

Areas of expertise: 

Corporate Reporting and Disclosure, Water Stewardship

About Me in 140 characters (or more!):

I’m a native New Yorker who just moved out west to begin a new adventure with my husband Brad and our critters. I started out in consulting as a Phase I reporter / industrial hygiene tech, and over the years, I’ve turned my passion for sustainability into a full time career!  When I’m not knees-deep in sustainability reports, you can find me in the kitchen cooking up a storm, exploring the great outdoors (with dachshund in tow), or book-worming/Netflixing on the rare rainy days we get here in Denver!

Favorite thing about being a sustainability practitioner:

Yikes, it’s hard to boil it down to just one thing – can I have two? Watching our clients have an “aha” moment when sustainability becomes more than just a “nice to have” and becomes a business practice. I also love it when we can take the anxiety out of sustainability reporting, and help clients enjoy the experience of sharing their sustainability story. 

What is the most interesting project you’ve ever worked on? 

Hands down, the facilitation work we do for the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER). Here we have over 20 of the world’s largest beverage companies coming together to collaborate on key aspects of environmental stewardship. We have the opportunity to guide this group as they work through complex environmental problems, share best practices, benchmark their sustainability progress, and present collaborative solutions.  It’s a front row seat to the evolution of sustainable business.

What is a key ingredient for success as a sustainability practitioner? 

Every one of our projects starts off with a conversation. We need to be good listeners, and when it comes time to execute the work, we need to remember to have some fun with our clients to take the edge off of tight deadlines and stressful situations. That personal touch we add to every engagement goes a long way – it’s how we are able to differentiate ourselves in this market – Antea Group makes sustainability interesting and rewarding for clients!

What’s your favorite part of your job? 

As an internal solution leader and an Office Leader, I have the opportunity to mentor teams and help them succeed in the EHS&S field. Without a doubt, my favorite part of this job is when our junior practitioners take on new challenges and knock them out of the park (with a little help from our senior team), and then witnessing them assume project or account leadership with great confidence and enjoyment.  A happy and motivated team is the key to a sustainable organization – it’s how we practice what we preach!

If someone at a party asks what you do, how to you respond? 

It used to be “glorified tree hugger” or “environmental consultant” because I would always get a blank stare when I tried to explain my career in sustainability. But now I take the time to go deeper – “I help my clients build sustainability into their business model. I help them tell their sustainability story, and make sure they are reporting real progress and goals, not just green-washing.” And if the stares persist..."Glorified tree hugger. Where’s the wine?”

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

I remember my high school guidance counselor’s panicked look when I said “I want to do something to help conserve our natural environment on an international scale.” Nailed it! 

What was your first job? 

Counter service at Friedhoffer’s Bakery - serving the finest baked goods on Long Island. It’s where I learned to properly pronounce sfogliatella and rugelach and had an endless supply of free bakery items (and metabolism…I miss those days!). My first boss was Klaus, an angry baker who would love to swear at us in German when we were working too slowly for his liking, but man, he could make a killer jelly donut.

If you had one month off, where would you go or what would you do? 

I would travel through Australia with my godmother, Jade – it’s a destination on both of our bucket lists! Jade inspired me to become the person I am today, and taught me the importance of conservation and respect for our natural world. I will never be able to truly thank her for all she has done to support me through the years, but I would love to be able to take her on an adventure she’d never forget! We’d definitely hit up the underground city of Coober Pedy, volunteer at the Alice Springs Kangaroo Sanctuary, snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, and watch cassowaries and kookaburras up in northern Queensland. 

What historical or fictional character would you most like to work with? 

Cracking the X-Files with Fox Mulder. The Truth is Out There.

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