Finding Your Green Career “Sweet Spot”

Janelle Pagnucco | November-19-12


Finding Your Green Career Sweet Spot

ECO Canada's latest Green Economy report, The Green Jobs Map: Tracking Employment through Canada’s Green Economy, distinguishes the in-demand and highly transferable skills that lead environmental professionals (EP) to a rewarding and varied career, as opposed to simply holding a job. How to apply your skills is the next important element of the equation that leads to ultimate job satisfaction.

Career coaching helps professionals find balance 

Like many business executives, EPs seek career coaching. Sapis Insight’s CEO, Melissa Creede, is a business and leadership coach that helps professionals achieve their best career by building awareness and balance between technical competencies, transferable skills and personal motivations. Melissa steers professionals to the “sweet spot” – a zone where professionals operate in an engaged and productive capacity.

Green jobs require technical and transferable skill-sets

Most green jobs require a combination of technical and transferable competencies, and finding a good balance might take some personal discovery. Coaching shows professionals how to leverage skills or identify key competencies – like communication or collaboration – that will position professionals for greater green economy success.  

Melissa Creede recently facilitated a career development and leadership workshop at the annual Toronto EP Networking Event called Career, Leadership, Lifestyle: Finding your Sweet Spot. For those who could not attend, we've taken the opportunity to learn more about the value of career coaching for EPs.

Skills & interests make up the "Sweet Spot"

ECO Canada: What is the “sweet spot” and how do you know you’ve found it?

MC: I define the “sweet spot” as the intersection between your strengths, interests, aspirations, purpose and values. It’s the overlap between your career goals, your lifestyle desires, and the areas in which you want to lead or make a difference in the world. 

It’s so rewarding for me to help individuals and organizations to identify their sweet spot because it’s the connection point where everything comes together. Since it originates from your strengths, everything is effortless and straightforward. You feel energized and extremely fulfilled. You are much more successful, effective, influential, and confident because you spend most of your time in the areas that you love and that you’re good at. And here’s the biggest secret: you have more time because you’re not being pulled in several different directions.

ECO Canada:  What is your ‘sweet spot’?

MC: My sweet spot brings together several elements. I’m most excited when I’m directly engaging with the people side of the environment industry: one-on-one coaching, focus groups, training, stakeholder engagement, and facilitation. My sweet spot also includes using the strengths I’ve always had but didn’t necessarily realize or articulate. I am able to visualize a bigger vision of what’s possible in a scenario and I have the persistence to lead people to that. I used to do this in the context of projects; now I do that with people and organizations. There are a few other components in my ‘sweet spot’, but overall, my leadership goals and my career goals are almost superimposed. My sweet spot also honours my personal and lifestyle priorities and it makes up about 90% of my time, versus 40-50% a few years ago.

Just to be clear: I’m not saying I don’t have ‘weaknesses’ – I have plenty of those. But if I’m doing work that keeps me using my strengths, values, and purpose, everyone benefits. And the great news is, it’s possible for everyone; you don’t even have to leave your existing job to do more of that. In fact, the more you’re in your sweet spot, the better it is for you and for your employer. It’s a positive feedback loop.

ECO Canada: What do you think is the most overlooked leadership trait?

MC: Self-awareness, without a doubt! In my opinion, there is not a single other trait that has more impact on your effectiveness as a change agent, as a professional, as an individual. Self-awareness is a proven trait of ‘effective’ leaders, and of individuals who want to truly make a difference in the world. 

I believe that continuous investment and effort in developing one’s self-awareness is paramount. As a society, we completely value spending $60,000 to obtain a post-secondary degree, but don’t value spending a few thousand dollars in self-awareness work; that’s a real gap for individuals and for society. Personally, I spend about 1-2 days per month on this kind of work.

ECO Canada: Why should employers and employees invest and participate in coaching?

MC: Many workers do a good job overall, but might be considered to be ‘sitting on the fence’ – not quite in and not quite out in terms of commitment and effort. I could recite all the statistics of coaching, but I’ll tell you a story instead. 

I recently worked with a middle-manager who was identified as someone with “high potential” by his employer. He was a great employee, but unbeknownst to his manager, was considering other opportunities outside the organization. Through our coaching, he became super-clear about his strengths, his values, and his aspirations; he identified and overcame limiting behaviours and beliefs. We worked on his confidence and his focus, and he became much more engaged in his work – which improved his performance significantly. A few months after we started working together, a head hunter approached him offering him a position that was $20,000 more than his current salary. He confidently turned down the offer because he was crystal clear about what he wanted and what he had to offer, and he knew his current organization was the best fit for him. His employer not only gained a more productive, more effective, happy, committed individual, he also narrowly missed losing his biggest star.

For information on coaching and consulting services, email Melissa Creede, CEO of Sapis Insight at