Finding the Ultimate Green Career in Sustainable Energy

Laura Sykes | May-09-13


Timothy Adamson, EP, B.Sc., M.Sc.
Timothy Adamson Photo
Manager, Sustainable Energy


For Timothy Adamson, following a green career path has not only led him to a variety of different environmental jobs, but also to an impressive array of work locations all over the world. As Mr. Adamson observes, “My career has taken many twists and turns – one can never predict what will happen, as this is such a dynamic field.”

After completing a Master’s degree in soil science and surveying at Reading University, UK, Tim started his career in an agricultural consulting company, where he spent one of his first major projects working on a complete agricultural survey in Northern Nigeria. Following a number of other international agricultural consultancy projects, he started his own consulting practice. In this capacity, Mr. Adamson provided expertise on Kuwait’s program to increase its forest cover. Next on Mr. Adamson’s green career trajectory was a stop in Calgary, where he transitioned into the oil and gas sector and worked on soil management and reclamation assignments.

In order to take advantage of all of the opportunities that came his way, Mr. Adamson adopted several key strategies, including an enthusiastic attitude, commitment to developing technical credibility, and willingness to volunteer. According to Mr. Adamson, “In this field, I believe that one’s personal credibility is of paramount importance. I place great store in ensuring that when internal staff come to me for advice or help, I’m able to provide the best and most pertinent advice that I can.”

Part of sharing this expertise also involves educating others. As Mr. Adamson explains, “Not everyone is as familiar with my subject matter – that’s why they have hired me – so doing things like internal lunch and learn sessions, or having external stakeholders come in to talk about the issues, all helps.”

This work approach has helped Mr. Adamson make significant gains over the course of his career. Currently, he holds the position of Manager, Sustainable Energy at Enbridge, while also serving as the Vice Chair of the Enbridge Climate Change Steering Committee and the Chair of the Canadian Energy Partnership for Environmental Innovation.

At Enbridge, Mr. Adamson acts as a technical resource for the company on a variety of projects, from tracking and responding to any carbon-related regulations to working with governments to align GHG reporting regulations and developing activities to support Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). One of his major responsibilities also includes completing the Carbon Disclosure Questionnaire for his company. The questionnaire is sent world-wide to the top global 500 companies. In the questionnaire, businesses need to indicate how they are managing the risks and opportunities that arise from climate change.

This questionnaire is one prime example of the important changes that Mr. Adamson has observed in his industry. Mr. Adamson states, “When I started, environmental work was really an ‘add-on,’ end-of-pipe type of work – something that companies had to go through to get their approvals for whatever project they were proposing. Today, in my view, environmental work and the environmental space in which a company operates will affect that company’s competitiveness, investment decisions and the value of the company’s assets.”

The changes in environmental work don’t just stop there. Mr. Adamson notes further that, “Environmental work is not just about doing environmental assessments for particular projects; it is driving a fundamental change in the structure of organizations. For example, many companies now have a chief sustainability officer, or something similar – a position that was unheard of 10 years ago.”

He offers the following advice to individuals considering a related green career path: “While a first degree in some environmental discipline is okay to learn about the science of what is involved, taking a combined environment and business degree would help potential applicants understand the business linkage. Employers have to find value in the work that you do, and part of this value is for you to understand their terminology and be able to explain what the company needs to do to ensure a sustainable future, while also meeting the company's vision.