Aviation, ESG, People Spotlight, Sustainability

Our People Spotlight series gives you an inside look at our technical experts around the world. This week, we are highlighting a sustainability consultant from AECOM’s Milan office in Italy and providing an insight into their inspiration and work.

Patrick Cellie is a senior sustainability consultant from AECOM’s Milan office in Italy. His work focuses on several aspects of sustainability including the development of Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) programs, decarbonization strategies and sustainability management plans. Having worked for AECOM in both the United States and Europe, he has extensive expertise with a wide portfolio of projects.

What inspired you to join the industry?

It feels like sustainability chose me, as I always had a great passion for nature and the environment. When my first job opportunity presented itself, it was related to carbon reduction projects, and it just felt right. At that time, in 2006, these topics were somewhat new and cutting edge, so I didn’t know much about them. However, from day one it has been a continuous learning experience—no matter where I am or what I am working on.

Moving to the U.S., achieving a master’s degree and working abroad also shaped my perspective on sustainability and my career path, moving from a strictly technical approach to understanding the importance of embedding sustainability planning and strategy development in all my projects for clients.

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

Having had the chance to work on projects related to many sectors, airports have always been my favourite. I’ve been lucky enough to spend years working in aviation, developing sustainability programmes and, setting goals and actions. Airports are unique in their operation, challenges and even jargon, making it an interesting sector to learn about.

If I had to pick one, my favourite project would be developing a sustainability management program for San Diego International Airport. On this two-year project, we worked with a very engaging client with bold goals and ambitious ideas. As a team, we were able to ‘dream big’ in developing six focused action plans for the main environmental topics identified by the airport as critical. Diving deep into each aspect allowed us to identify actions, that once implemented, would minimize negative impacts not only at the airport, but for the broader community. For example, ensuring the airport had a solid climate resilience strategy would mean limiting disruptions for passengers and local community members, a critical aspect for an airport close to downtown and embedded in the city’s fabric.

Airports are the “face” of the city and showcasing such an ambitious and comprehensive strategy through videos and billboards in the terminals not only made staff proud, but also provided passengers with the perception that sustainability matters. It was very motivating to be part of an innovative project that would make a great impact!

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

As simple as it may seem, I feel all projects I am part of have a positive impact.

Whether it is employees and passengers seeing their airport implement sustainability initiatives, a citizen seeing a building or infrastructure being developed to improve resiliency, an executive truly understanding the value of ESG principles for their organisation, or even a colleague learning more about sustainability, I feel these are all positive outcomes of my work and that make me feel grateful and proud of what I do.

Share a piece of career advice. 

I have realised that you don’t need the word “sustainability” in your job title to embrace it in your role or projects. We can all have a positive impact no matter our role.

Given its holistic nature, sustainability can be embedded into any project and with every client. So, be an advocate with clients and colleagues, and look for new ways to apply sustainability principles into traditional services. This approach avoids silos, makes us more flexible and sparks collaboration, which I believe is one of the most important elements in developing sustainable solutions.

I look forward to the day when “sustainability jobs” don’t exist anymore because it will mean that it is the norm!

Originally published Nov 2, 2022

Author: Patrick Cellie