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UK Business Leader Forums

Environment Analyst hosts a series of online and in-person UK Business Leader Forums, to enable senior leaders to come together and discuss pertinent issues in small, closed group settings.

These Forums are for Environment Analyst members.

To request an invite please contact

Upcoming Forums

  • 5 June 2024 in London
  • 2 October 2024 in London

Improving Equity, Diversity & Inclusion in the E&S Consulting Sector

5 June at 4-5:30pm, in-person at Mott MacDonald's office in Fleet Place, London

Research undertaken a few years ago identified the environmental & sustainability consulting sector as being one of the least ethnically diverse sectors in the UK. Since then, awareness of this has increased hugely and several initiatives have been undertaken by both individual organisations and across the wider sector to promote, foster, and improve diversity and inclusion with regards to ethnicity, gender and neurodiversity. However there is still more to be done, as evidenced by the recent Early Career Survey published by the UK Sustainability Delivery Group’s Early Careers Advisory Board (ECAB).

This Forum will hear a representative from ECAB sharing headline findings on diversity from this survey, and hear about initiatives being employed in the sector to improve ED&I, before giving attendees the opportunity to share their own experiences and insights. 

Introductory comments from:

  • Alan Edwards, European Managing Director, SLR Consulting
  • Ethny Childs, Communities & Partnership Lead, Institution of Environmental Sciences
  • Katherine Stanfield, Sustainability Consultant, Jacobs & Chair of the Early Career Advisory Board

Discussion points:

  • Why does the environment sector score so poorly on ED&I - what are the root causes of a lack of representation?
  • What improvements have been made within your own organisations and the wider sector in ED&I? What has worked? What has not worked? 
  • Sharing examples of good practice to attract minority groups and improve talent diversity:
    • partnerships and collaboration inter-consultancy, with industry associations and academia 
    • changes to recruitment and selection procedures 
    • fostering a more inclusive company culture

Previous Forums

Achieving Growth in a Volatile Market: Consulting Outlook 2024 

13 February at 4-5:30pm, in-person at AECOM’s Aldgate Tower office, London

As the demand for sustainability services continues to grow, so is the marketplace becoming more crowded. The environmental and sustainability (E&S) consulting sector must therefore ensure it can make a positive and purposeful impact to remain as leaders in the space, which means effectively navigating the disruptors influencing the market and be well-positioned to leverage the opportunities these provide. 

At this next UK Business Leaders’ Forum we will take a look at the market outlook for 2024, how the current economic, political, and project headwinds are impacting activities in the sector, and invite a discussion on how senior business leaders within environmental, sustainability and engineering firms in the UK consulting market can best respond.

Discussion topics - 2024: Growing through Volatility

How will the current economic and political headwinds influence future work prospects in 2024 and beyond?

Introductory remarks by Gert Vermeiren, Managing Director for Environment, Water and Energy – Europe & India, AECOM

  • What will be the impact of some or all of the following:  
    • High inflation, project and staff costs / salaries increases
    • Forthcoming general election 
    • Implications of Brexit - how UK divergence from European rules is impacting 
    • The continuing skills crisis
    • Changing policy or operating frameworks eg moving from EIA to EORs , the Water Framework Directive
  • What is the outlook for the industry? 
  • What are your primary concerns / challenges and where do you see the opportunities lie?   

Weathering the turbulence of asset management and major infrastructure programme cycles 

Introductory remarks by Lucy Morton, Global Environment Practice Leader and Development Manager, Environment & Social, Mott MacDonald

  • What impact has the cancellation of HS2 Phase 2 had on the sector
    • Where can you reallocate those staff resources?
    • Impact on the supply chain
  • How do you effectively manage the “boom / bust” of major investment programme cycles in the water sector and/or national highways 
    • AMP7-AMP8
    • RIS2-RIS3
  • Where are the next major infrastructure projects?

Read the write-up

Operationalising ESG in Infrastructure Delivery

29 November, 4-5:30pm in-person at the Leonardo Royal Hotel, London City

As reported in our market overview at the recent Global Business Summit, the blurring of boundaries between industry sectors, and a growing importance of ESG both within, and driving, wider activities and revenue share, is resulting in environmental and sustainability fundamentals moving from project design, to the core determinant of project success. Multidisciplinary consultancies have responded by pivoting their mission and values to align with the sustainability imperative.  

This move, arising from, to borrow a term from LinkedIn’s Global Green Skills Report, “the Great Reshuffle” is resulting in environmental & sustainability divisional leaders now finding themselves in a new position within the company and an opportunity to leverage this both operationally and strategically.    

How can this be optimised? How can we effectively shift the message within an engineering structure to integrate ESG into business strategy and project delivery, and ensure that nature, climate and social sustainability considerations are truly embedded into all infrastructure design and delivery? How can we effectively operationalise ESG in infrastructure? 

Delivering Ambitious ESG Goals 

Introductory remarks from Victoria Cross, Consulting Partner, ERM

  • As we reach the implementation era of ambitious sustainability and net zero goals, what challenges are your companies encountering?
  • What if the stretch targets have “stretched” too far, how do you recalibrate the goals to a realistic end-point - and what impact is this having on client relationships?
  • Is the USP of this industry to provide an honest, realistic take on what is possible? To present the deliverable solution in overcoming infrastructure challenges such as biodiversity net gain, carbon and social value.  
  • What are the key client-side relationships that need nurturing (CFO, CSO?) 

Positioning Group Businesses for “Total” Sustainability Services

Introductory remarks from Philippa Spence, Managing Director, Ramboll UK

  • As sustainability takes centre stage in the mission and value of engineering companies, how has this affected your role as environment business leader? What has changed in recent years? 
  • Have environmental businesses assumed greater strategic importance at the vanguard of business growth?
  • How can engineering firms magnify their sustainability expertise across wider teams of engineers, designers, planners. What does it take to truly operationalise sustainability within a multidisciplinary consultancy?  
  • What are the hurdles to overcome?
  • What will the future environmental consultant look like? 

Read the write-up

Moving up the Consulting Value Chain

22 March 2023, 3-4:30pm BST, online

The first Business Leaders’ Forum in Feb 2020 discussed how to improve the value proposition of environmental & sustainability consultants and effectively communicate this value to the C-suite so that the sector is seen as credible sustainability leaders and can compete on a more level playing field with other professional services firms who were beginning to enter the space.  

At our 2022 Global Business Summit, the CEO of ERM, Tom Reichert talked about the need for innovation and building a “more integrated and successful business”. Environmental & sustainability consultancies are well-placed to offer technically-robust solutions, but helping companies to solve issues around carbon and sustainability management will mean “demanding a seat at the table”. 

Three years on from the first meeting, this Business Leaders’ Forum discussed progress made since 2020 in moving up the consulting value chain, adopting a “strategic advisory approach” and how the widespread development of the ESG agenda has driven opportunities. With “implementing sustainability” perceived as a unique differentiator compared with the professional services firms, this Forum explored where this sector can and will add value, and what remain the barriers to overcome in securing that “seat at the table” 

The forum also briefly discussed the potential for a UK recession and how this may impact both business opportunities and the sustainability agenda.

Read the write-up

Managing Organisational Challenges & the Impact of the “New Normal” on Business Structure, Culture, & Practices

26 April 2022

The session began with a top-line summary of the report findings presented by Ross Griffiths, Operations Director, Environment Analyst, followed by an industry perspective from Alizabeth Aramowicz Smith, EHS Senior Consultant and Health and Safety Practice Leader at Antea Group USA.

Attendees then moved into small breakout groups to discuss:

  • What the post-Covid organisation looks like and the long-term impact of remote or hybrid working on internal and external relationships:
    • employee and client engagement & connection
    • future talent pipeline development
    • the culture of the organisation
    • the optimum workplace strategy
  • The extent to which aligning company purpose and values with ESG goals can enhance employee recruitment and engagement: developing sustainability leadership
  • Evolving business models aligned with operational and project trends and changing demands for consultancy

Read the write-up

Exploring the Evolution of ESG in Environmental Consulting

21 June 2022

ESG has become an integral part of your clients’ businesses from climate and sustainability goals to employee recruitment and retention, and business ethics and governance. ESG factors are central to long-term growth and commercial success.

But what does this mean for the environmental consulting sector, your value proposition, and the services you provide? This in-person Business Leaders’ Forum, which took place on the eve of our 8th annual UK Business Summit, explored the impact of ESG and evolving client needs on environmental consulting services, how business models are evolving in response, and how to differentiate yourself in a world where everyone is “doing ESG”.

Following a couple of short industry opening perspectives, there was a group discussion on two topics: 

Responding to Changing Client Expectations

Finding the ESG “sweet spot” – identifying where the sector can deliver the most value and differentiate itself

  • Where does “traditional” consultancy fit in – transitioning from traditional permitting and compliance services to a more advisory-focused role
  • Examining the role for SMEs 

“Walking the Talk”

  • Showing leadership - managing your own net zero goals and internal ESG strategy and governance aligned with stakeholder and client expectations   

Read the write-up

Managing Organisational Challenges & the Impact of the “New Normal” on Business Structure, Culture, & Practices

22 July 2021

This Forum brought together senior executives from leading environmental consulting firms, as well as policy experts, early career professionals, industry participants, and strategic advisors to discuss the major issues and drivers impacting the growing skills shortage.

Key themes discussed include:

  • How to attract graduates
  • Improving the visibility of the sector 
  • Fostering skills for a successful career
  • Employee retention and engagement 
  • Finding attractive propositions beyond salary 

Read the write-up

Making Sustainability Relevant: Creating the Right Package & Reaching the Right Peop

7 July 2020

This Forum discussed:

  • Effectively translating the SDGs into tangible business and productivity goals as part of the environmental consultancy offering.
  • Exploring the changes required in positioning, charging and language used to reach the C-suite and key decision-makers within client organisations.

Speaker: Ben Murray, CEO, Avieco  

Accelerating the Delivery of a Zero Carbon Economy

1 July 2020

This Forum explored:

  • Alternative partnerships & coalitions to maximise collaborative value & accelerate innovation (Pledge to Net Zero initiative)
  • Practicalities of applying a natural capital approach & measuring environmental Impacts 
  • How the tools available can be used effectively to enable better decision-making and help deliver a zero carbon economy.


  • Matthew Farrow, Executive Director, Environmental Industries Commission
  • Robert Spencer, Director, Sustainable Development, AECOM

Improving the value proposition of environmental consultancy

February 2020

The first Environment Analyst Business Leaders’ Forum meeting of 2020 saw animated discussion around three interrelated themes of digital disruption, value proposition and the future environmental consultant.

Read the write-up