Americas, Environment, INWED, People Spotlight, Sustainability

Our People Spotlight series gives you an inside look at our technical experts around the world. This week, we are highlighting Claire Still, a sustainability and resilience specialist, from our Environmental business line in the U.S. East and providing an insight into her inspiration and work.

Since joining AECOM in 2015, she has been supporting private and public sector clients to build, improve, monitor, and evaluate their programs and operations to work towards more sustainable and resilient practices. Most of Claire’s work focuses on climate change vulnerability and adaptation, environmental justice and community engagement, and environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy, action planning, and reporting.

Prior to joining AECOM, she worked for non-profits, and as a contractor to the federal government, focused on water quality and improving the sustainability of clean water interventions. Claire holds a Master of Public Health in Environmental Health from Emory University and a Bachelor of Science in Geology from The College of William and Mary.

Tell us about what inspired you to join the industry

I grew up in a family that fostered a love for the environment from a young age and I credit a lot of my foundational thinking to an educational summer camp I attended and later worked at – Nature Camp. From there, I continued to cultivate that interest into applicable study areas with geology in undergraduate and environmental health in graduate school. Following the completion of my master’s degree, I was trying to find a career path that could utilize my scientific background, while moving the needle forward on creating a more socially and environmentally responsible world. During my job search, I found a job posting from AECOM that included language around sustainability and after some research into the company’s practices, I applied. Seven years later, I’m still here. I’ve grown to truly value this industry for the amount of change we’re able to make by supporting our clients and working through complex ESG issues alongside them.

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

My favorite AECOM project to date is hard to choose! The first that comes to mind is our work with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in Boston assessing the vulnerability of their Red Line to future climate change scenarios. The project itself was a collaboration between MBTA and AECOM where we developed a methodology that made sense for their assets and operations, which could be applicable to other parts of their system moving forward. The results of the analyses felt very tangible and useful to MBTA as they move forward with their own asset management and capital improvements. The other part of this work that makes it stand out are the internal team, who were engaging, sharp, and a joy to work with.

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

Early in my career with AECOM, I supported a project that assessed the disaster resilience of 208 small to mid-size businesses on several New Orleans historic corridors with funding from the United Nations. Given the vital role of small businesses within communities, the project sought to understand the resilience capacity of these businesses and identify meaningful ways to build up that resilience. During in-person interviews, business representatives reflected on and considered their disaster preparedness and resilience position, thus gaining an important learning opportunity through participation. In addition, they were provided with informational materials and offered free attendance to disaster preparedness and sustainable business trainings. The information has also been used as the city developed its Resilient Corridors Initiative which also has direct benefits to the community.

Share a piece of career advice

Never stop networking and try to put your best self forward with those interactions (when you can, we’re not robots!). Working at such a large company, it’s essential to market yourself to find individuals across business lines and practice areas that you enjoy working with and that you can foster relationships with. This has helped me be successful and have the pleasure to work on a wide array of projects with interesting people across the country and globe.

Originally published May 25, 2022

Author: Claire Still