Klaudia Watts the Corporate Responsibility Manager at PwC
Those who are passionate about CSR tend to be very involved in the space. Take Klaudia Watts, Corporate Responsibility Manager at PwC, who’s built an impressive career in sustainability. Klaudia started her career in CSR as an “intrapreneur”, pioneering a CSR program where one never existed. She then leveraged the experience to take on a role at Rogers in community investment. While at her current position, she completed her MBA at Schulich with a specialization in sustainability. After graduating she returned to the classroom, this time as an instructor in sustainability, and was part of a team that developed and launched the Community Investment Professional Extension Certificate to fill a training gap in the industry. Her passion for CSR makes it no surprise that Kaludia was selected as one of Corporate Knights’ top 30 under 30 sustainability leaders. How did she do it all? Read on to find out?
What does your job entail and what does a typical day look like?
As the corporate responsibility manager, I manage a team of 200 volunteer champions within the organization who bring our Corporate Social Responsibility strategy to life. As a national office, we work across the organization to support all regional teams as well as collaborate with our global counterparts. I’m also responsible for our Corporate Responsibility reporting- including our Annual Highlights publication and work with our community partners to create and measure impact.
There is no typical day, which is part of the reason that I am drawn to this career path. I’ve had very structured roles at past organizations where I knew exactly what I needed to accomplish every hour. Within this role however, it really varies- I may be working on policies, attending board meetings or creating a communications strategy. I’m lucky that I get to utilize and draw from many of my business skills.
Can you briefly describe your career path and how you got your current job?
After graduating at Schulich (York University), specializing in Accounting, I went into finance and banking. I moved to take on a role at a small but rapidly growing company within the finance industry. This organization was flexible and entrepreneurial and after expressing interest in developing a CSR program, the CEO tasked me with doing just that. This was my first opportunity to take what I had been learning about, as well as writing about via my blog, thegoodcorp.com, and apply it to a business setting. After building a solid CSR foundation, I moved to a fulltime role at Rogers working in their community investment program. I’ve been at PwC for almost three years building on my background and learning about environmental stewardship and responsible business efforts in addition to the community work that I’ve done in the past.
What’s the coolest part about your job and what’s the biggest challenge?
I love explaining to people what CSR is and what my job entails! For those unfamiliar with the concepts, I love seeing their enthusiasm and excitement as they learn about it. In this industry, I also have an incredible opportunity to be an ambassador for the charities or sustainability topics that we work with. This can occur both internally to rally employees and also as we communicate externally- through events or publications. I’m thankful for that.
There are so many causes, focus areas and programs to pursue within sustainability, community investment or CSR. You’ll always be challenged with strong and varying opinions within the work that you are doing. Conducting stakeholder engagement, materiality assessments and sticking to your strategy is key to remaining on track.
What advice would you give to a job seeker looking for meaningful work?
First you need to identify what skill set you have, where your passions lie and what values are important to you.
As you begin your job search, don’t fall into the trap of basing your search on a title or a specific role. Look for a company or organization that lives those values that are important to you. See what their vision is and be open minded to opportunities. For example, you could work for a company that is innovative and contributing to a major shift in its category- like a new environmentally friendly product- rather than being focused on a job title only.
While formal education is becoming more widely recognized in this field, there are still many opportunities in more informal sources such as CSR conferences, certificates and training.
Volunteering, especially skilled volunteering, like that of a committee or board member, can also give you experience into governance and strategy work that will be transferrable to a career in this field.
What can you identify as the biggest opportunity and hurdle in your sector right now?
It is an exciting time with the rise of social enterprise and it will continue to redefine how corporations can work with these unique businesses. Continuing to embed CSR into the core of business operations, rather than operating as a siloed program also remains essential.
While it’s great that CSR has become a mainstream topic and that stakeholders now expect business to be working towards sustainability goals, it’s becoming more difficult to differentiate between CSR strategies and communications. Companies need to be creative in how, when and why they communicate their impact and find new and innovative ways to break through to their stakeholders.