Career Advice Job Market Trend Report

Wanted: natural talents

The WGO is looking for sustainability experts with superior technical skills and a creative streak to match

A new independent non-governmental organisation (NGO) set up to promote sustainability is looking for highly skilled and experienced professionals to join its team.

The World Green Organisation (WGO) is already looking for several managers to assist with the 13 projects it is currently working on and, depending on how many more projects it takes on in future, will adjust its hiring plans accordingly.

“We need people who are both technical experts and creative, innovative staff members – although sometimes that is a bit contradictory,” says Dr. William Yu, founder and CEO of WGO.

“We don’t stick to the usual ways of doing things. For example, we don’t necessarily hire people who have experience in fundraising. We hire people with technical knowledge who understand our programmes and can explain them to donors.”

Yu is looking for a policy manager and a campaign manager with degrees in social or environmental sciences or related disciplines. They should have at least two years’ work experience in areas such as energy issues, air pollution, poverty or local environmental management, plus good knowledge of Hong Kong’s environmental, socio-political and cultural situations.

He is also looking for a corporate social responsibility (CSR) manager and a communication manager, with at least four and five years’ relevant work experience respectively.

All candidates should have a cross-disciplinary mindset, know how to approach complicated problems, and be able to think from various perspectives.

Yu, an energy economist and climate professional by training and the former head of the climate programme at WWF Hong Kong, says it is difficult to find people who are skilled, creative and committed to work in an NGO.

“Environmental science is very technical. We have people with passion, but not many with passion and expertise, especially in specific fields such as climate change. It is difficult to find appropriate talent, so when we do we have to treasure and retain them,” he says.

While salaries are in line with the market rate, Yu believes candidates will also be attracted by the close relationship between staff, the company’s family-like atmosphere, and the respect shown to employees.

The NGO’s creative nature, innovative approach and openness to original ideas also makes work rewarding.

“People are attracted when they see our deliverables have created measureable positive impact and we have really done something solid. They will get job satisfaction by doing something meaningful,” Yu says.

The organisation is kept slim with a simple structure that enhances quick decision-making. “It’s certainly not a ‘keep talking, no action’ organisation,” Yu says.

Prompted by the recent increase in electricity prices, one of WGO’s first projects involved research on an energy poverty line for Hong Kong. It found that there were 210,000 households that fell under the energy poverty line and a special policy was needed to help them enjoy the benefits of electricity, something that most households take for granted.

The NGO has also put together a tailor-made training programme for a large retail chain, and offers executive training to chief executives and senior managers, with both designed to change the way people think about green issues.

WGO has an international panel of advisers supporting its research, so that it can adopt best practices from the international arena. It also forms partnerships with local groups to share knowledge. “That is our culture. No one organisation can solve all the world’s problems,” Yu says.

The organisation’s main objective is to translate solutions for poverty alleviation, socio-economic problems and environmental problems into action. To do this, they form community programmes with local groups who have first-hand knowledge of their communities’ needs, as well as the best methods of execution.

WGO also has an office in Myanmar which runs a programme for poverty relief and green education, and has research partnerships and co-operation programmes in Australia, the UK, South Africa, Angola and China, all of which offer staff members rewarding opportunities for international cooperation.