Environment, ESG, People Spotlight, Safety, Sustainability

Our People Spotlight series gives you an inside look at our technical experts around the world. This week, we are highlighting an environmental director from our team in Germany.

Based in our Essen office in Germany, Andreas has over 25 years of experience in supporting private and public clients with their environmental management, due diligence and compliance programs, as well as corporate ESG advisory, focusing on supply chain management and European Union Taxonomy alignment. Andreas is also the European coordinator for the International Audit Practice Consortium, a flagship community set up by AECOM to promote excellence in global environmental, health and safety auditing, and management practices.

What inspired you to join the industry?

An early interest in environmental topics led me to study geography and geology at university without really knowing where it would lead to. In fact, it wasn’t considered a promising career decision at that time! Fortunately, I had the chance to work with one of my professors in the 1990s, helping a city in Eastern Germany develop a new commercial area without compromising archaeological and biodiversity interests. It was only a small project, but I thoroughly enjoyed the environmental focus and have never looked back.

What is your favourite AECOM project that you’ve worked on and why?

One of my industrial clients asked for help with managing the procurement for their raw materials while ensuring they came from ethical and sustainable sources. This topic was rather new at that time, but very crucial for our client to make their business resilient and ensure raw materials were ethically sourced. There was hardly any experience anywhere with this topic, but we were able to develop a management system for sustainable sourcing which had a significant positive impact on the ESG performance of our client and helped reducing operational and reputational risks by ensuring a sustainable selection of suppliers.

As the project manager, I was responsible for developing the entire management system, including policies, work instructions, audit questionnaires, trainings, etc. — which has since influenced the wider electronics industry today. It was good to see we were able to develop something from scratch, especially in relation to a very urgent social and environmental issue.

Tell us a story of how your work positively impacted the community.

I believe all the projects I’m involved in positively impact communities — from the identification and remediation of contaminated sites to the responsible management of environmental permits and compliance programmes, and of course, with ESG principles embedded across all our projects, we are helping clients and communities by doing the right thing.

One of my first projects at AECOM was to carry out environmental due diligence on a manufacturing site in Germany. Projects such as this are often short-term, where we identify environmental risks and the cost of remediating them for the client. This particular project, however, was much more comprehensive as we worked with the client and addressed our findings and remediated all the contamination we identified over several years. Without our investigations at the site, a huge groundwater impact wouldn’t have been recognised or cleaned up. My team and I protected both the environment and the surrounding communities.

Our due diligence scope has been extended by ESG topics, which provides us the opportunity to help clients understand and align with the new requirements like the EU Taxonomy legislation, a technical framework to assess the level of sustainability of a company. I see my role in helping our clients embrace their sustainability and environmental challenges as fundamental to positively improving an organisation’s ESG performance and ultimately, it’s impact on society.

Share a piece of career advice.

I am convinced that everybody is best at what they really like doing the most. Of course, it is not always possible in our jobs to fully focus on our one or two favourite areas. But as AECOM is so diverse in its services and global footprint, it has really helped me prioritise my interest in the environment towards a genuine profession that makes a difference. So, my advice is to be aware of your interests, be open to new ones, and you will probably find a way to match these to a meaningful and enjoyable career.

Originally published Aug 30, 2023

Author: Andreas Kaps