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My Journey to COP26: Showcasing RSK’s Creative Talent

Published on January 20, 2022

By Sophie O’Toole, Hazel Wong and Genevieve Hodgins

COP26 began on 31 October in Glasgow, bringing together world leaders, environmentalists and policy makers to discuss climate action. RSK is proud to have taken part in the pivotal 14-day conference to coordinate global efforts to turn back the escalating climate crisis and take meaningful action.

In the run up to COP26, RSK hosted a competition for its employees to get creative and produce their own piece on the theme of climate action. Whether that was about nature, clean transport, adaptation and resilience, energy transition or finance, employees across all areas of the business showed their passion for climate and sustainability in a variety of creative ways, including poetry, song, painting, documentary, comic strip and photo collage.

Sophie O’Toole from EDP, Australia, was the winner of the #RSKGetCreative COP26 Award and Hazel Wong from Binnies Hong Kong won the #RSKGetCreative Employees’ Choice Award. Both winners were invited to attend COP26 in Glasgow and join the conversation on advancing global climate action in person.

As the overall quality of the entries was so high, RSK Chief Executive Officer Alan Ryder decided to invite all ten shortlisted entries to also join the RSK COP26 event. Sophie, Hazel and Genevieve Hodgins of WRc, one of the finalists, shared their journey and passion for climate action and sustainability with us on their way to COP26.

My Journey to CO26: Hazel Wong

“Being at COP26 as someone from Hong Kong meant a dream come true, as Hong Kong sometimes feels disconnected from global climate events. Occasionally, there will be news showing climate protests or conferences around the globe, but I haven’t observed Hongkongers talking about climate change that often. Despite working in the environmental industry, I did sometimes question my passion in this career, as climate change is rarely discussed among my peers. Attending COP26, listening to people talking about climate change and talking to people who are passionate in this industry has reignited my career passion!

Being able to interact with global RSK staff members showed me the warm atmosphere of the RSK community, which also makes me realise that good things can happen when people cooperate internationally. This should be how sustainability works in real life: we need to collaborate and share inspiration to drive positive changes.”

Hazel Wong, Assistant Environmental Scientist at Binnies Hong Kong, created a video on her own experience of the challenges she faces in being sustainable at home in Hong Kong.

My Journey to COP26: Genevieve Hodgins

“Attending COP26 was a great opportunity to meet others in the industry and learn about sustainability and RSK from a different perspective. Attending the event provided great insight into how RSK works within the sustainability sector. I really enjoyed my time at COP26 and I found networking with other early-career members of RSK really empowering. I found the discussion around financing and the way that Ares [Management Corporation] works really interesting and it made me very hopeful for the future of sustainability.”

At the time of entry, Genevieve was an environmental chemist at WRc and wrote and performed a spoken word poem, “Counter Carbon”, about the challenges of our sustainable future, for her entry.

Here’s what some of our other #RSKGetCreative finalists had to say about their experiences at COP26:

“Attending COP26 was an unexpected honour. I didn’t realise the scale of it all until I had already left. I’d never even thought of the possibility of attending such an event, it was eye opening in many ways…everybody’s efforts matter, especially within a business. We just can’t lose sight of what and who we’re doing this for.” Sequoia Trevorrow, Graduate Geophysicist , RSK Geosciences

“The chance to attend COP26 really was a once in a lifetime event. RSK is great at engaging junior colleagues. To get the chance to attend such an event at an early point in my career makes me feel engaged in the conversation around the issues that will affect each generation more than the last. The nature of a ‘day job’ means it’s easy to start looking through only one lens or from one perspective but the breadth and range of responses from across industries working towards this common goal shows that now more than ever we really can learn from one another.” James Dowers, Soils and Nutrients, ADAS

“Attending COP26 was a fantastic opportunity to be close to a historic global event. It was also fantastic to have the recognition of putting in that extra effort and time to produce something different and creative.

I went to the event hoping to learn more about the issues we are facing and how we as individuals and as a company are planning to tackle those issues. The discussions and ideas that came out were fascinating and have the potential to lead to some very exciting initiatives and projects. Interacting with people from different parts of the company with different expertise was a fantastic way to learn and improve upon my own ideas.” Fraser Wilkinson, Environmental Consultant, IPG

The cross-industry debates at COP26 on the challenges of addressing the climate crisis clearly showed the important role of business in championing change. At RSK, we want to be part of the solution and we are leading the industry with innovative sustainability ideas through events such as our #GreenDialogues webinars. As a business, we believe our people are our greatest asset. Nurturing and valuing creative talent among our early-career professionals enables us to help them engage in these vital debates and be an active part of finding the solutions that are needed for a sustainable future.

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