In the sustainability and impact sector career-building space, Shannon Houde is a well-known name. She is a career and executive couch and founder of her own consultancy, Walk of Life, which provides training, one-on-one coaching, mentoring, and organizational consulting to an array of clients.
Houde’s own career includes work in corporate responsibility (CR) initiatives and cross-sector teams. She draws on her rich experience and capabilities homed in these roles to help others do the same for organizations and in capacities that are fulfilling, and those valued sessions and successes tell a compelling story.
This combined experience became the impetus for Houde’s recently published book, Good Work: How to Build a Career that Makes a Difference in the World.
What Is The Aim And Structure Of "Good Work"?
Well organized, this book is packed with resources and guidance for those who are seeking to enter or grow their careers in the impact sector space (roles that ‘do good work’). It also has value for those sitting on the other side of the table doing the hiring (Step 6 from the book: 'Be in Their Shoes').
And those 'sector shifters' have a spotlight as well – those who may want to redirect their capabilities and experience and pivot their career path into a sector of work they view as more meaningful.
But Good Work is also a good read for those already working in the space.
The first chapter, dedicated to understanding ‘The Lay of the Land,’ includes a foregrounding on defining an impact career in the sea of oft interchangeable semantics (e.g., CSR, CR, purpose economy, inclusive economy, ESG, EHS, resilience, purpose-driven, human-centered and impact investing).
This section also serves as a hub-in-print of resources that help define the sector and provides a background on standards and indices used in the impact space (with external sources to learn more), as well as market trends and key resources, including references and insights to follow.
How Can Houde’s "Good Work" Guide Career Architecture And Talent Development Within Organizations?
Without a doubt, Good Work shares with its broader genre of career development books some dedicated space in each chapter with exercises to help individuals engage in visioning and mapping opportunities. For that reason, Houde suggests readers take the journey in chronological order and not skip ahead.
The later chapters help readers prep practically step-by-step in developing a resume, cover letter and other materials, and importance of social media presence, strategy understanding, and deployment. She also focuses on what prospective candidates should expect in the way of interviews in this sector.
Related, our own Cara Hayes, Senior Associate, Partnership & Private Sector Engagement, has identified a set of questions hiring teams should consider when looking to bring a partnership specialist into an organization – a role that is growing in the impact space in companies and organizations.
These same exercises hold a great deal of promise for those who in organizations are tasked with inspiring and developing their people.
In this way Good Work can help employees chart career architecture and trajectories to do impactful work where they are. Such an approach may yield new and creative ways for organizations to help their teams make a more impactful difference.
This might include providing opportunities for cross-functional training, benefits such as paid Volunteer Time Off (VTO), project shadowing, internal internships, and other unique immersive experiences.
As a rapidly growing consulting and implementer firm focused on delivering global sustainable impact, Resonance is one of many companies that continues to encourage employees to as Houde describes, expand, and enhance their ‘impact credentials,’ by providing many of these opportunities.
Organizations committed to impact should also deliver impact internally to employees as inherently critical to corporate values.
Employee development and impact-focused benefits are among many criteria Houde suggests people entering or building impact careers should consider when examining the types of organizations they might identify as potential places to do ‘good work.’
Sustainable Impact And Good Work is Growing, Creatively Ambiguous, And Filled With Opportunity
Perhaps one of the key takeaways from Houde’s book that rings true of the sustainability and impact space generally is that opportunity is growing. This purpose driven, inclusive economy can also be rather ambiguous, she notes, as organizations collectively try to tackle pressing and complex challenges that are accompanied by breakpoint change.
Vast ambiguity provides tremendous opportunity for those seeking to carve a pathway in this broad and diverse space.
Uncertainty can be a major advantage for those entering the field, because it means there isn’t just one role or one route to a sustainability job: there are many. - Shannon Houde
Even if a role doesn’t include “sustainability” or “impact” in the job title, that doesn’t preclude someone from doing sustainability or doing impact.
In fact, changemakers, can be found anywhere. And Houde’s book is a good resource to help people find that professional sweet spot – the role and organization where passion + 'doing good' converge.