Finding FirstGroup’s Environmental Manager

Decarbonising transport is one of the toughest challenges currently facing the UK Government. Transport is the biggest polluter, responsible for 27% (in 2019) of UK greenhouse gas emissions, excluding shipping and aviation. The case for transport decarbonisation goes well beyond lowered GHG emissions and road decongestion, affecting air quality and health. 

FirstGroup plays a key role in accelerating the transition to low-carbon transport. This fits within the company’s ambition to be the partner of choice for innovative and sustainable transport for a zero-carbon future. In December 2019, FirstGroup approached Climate17 for help with identifying an Environmental Manager who could continue to lead and deliver their successful sustainability programme.

Climate17’s mission is to bridge the gap between ‘business as usual’ and a regenerative world, by bringing together purpose-driven people and organisations. We support small businesses and large organisations, such as FirstGroup, alike. We felt honoured to be able to support FirstGroup to continue to lead and innovate to create carbon-free cities. 

About FirstGroup – Key Information

  • FirstGroup is a British global transport services provider headquartered in Scotland. They operate transport services in Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. 
  • Transporting over two billion people every year, their services help create strong, vibrant, and sustainable local economies. 
  • First Group works with national governments, local authorities, schools and universities to meet their transport needs. 


Understanding The Main Challenges and Deliverables 

Sustainability markets are booming. As a result, finding experienced talent that is available and willing to move roles is ever more challenging. We worked in close partnership with FirstGroup to further understand their requirements and help them to build a competitive, attractive package. Given the urgency of FirstGroup’s requirement, we focussed on understanding the challenges and planning ways to overcome them. 

The main challenges presented by the brief were finding a candidate who was able to start immediately and be willing to work on a contract basis, as maternity cover. As well as this, they required someone who had both corporate and consultancy project experience, making the pool of suitable candidates considerably smaller. 

The main objectives were to find a candidate who could:

  • Lead on a wide variety of environmental challenges and opportunities including environmental management systems, competency and training frameworks, and operating procedures. 
  • Ensure carbon reduction, energy efficiency, fuel, water and waste management were effectively managed through stakeholder engagement and appropriate governance structures.


Finding FirstGroup’s Environmental Manager 

Climate17 conducted a full market search, to identify the best suitable candidates available in the market. Thanks to our longstanding and exclusively referred networks, and despite the challenge of time and the role being a 12-month FTC, we were able to quickly identify, approach and engage several passive high calibre candidates, and present FirstGroup with an extensive shortlist. We conducted in-depth biographical and competency interviews to ensure candidates had sufficient technical background, as well as commercial acumen. 

Climate17 supported the entire recruitment process. We kept an open and honest dialogue with FirstGroup throughout and provided extensive and objective insights into candidates’ potential for success, as well as areas requiring further development. We provided candidates with in-depth constructive feedback after each interview and closely supported them throughout the interview stages.  

The Outcome and Impact 

Thanks to the time and effort we invested in thoroughly understanding FirstGroup’s business, culture and expectations, we were able to swiftly identify the right candidate within one week of taking the brief. Our preferred candidate was hired after the first interview, securing FirstGroup their Environmental Manager within one month of engaging with Climate17. Climate17 is still a trusted partner of FirstGroup and continues to support the growth of their sustainability team, which delivers world-class results across all areas of their business. The team is continuing to drive the company’s innovative sustainability agenda, with an increasing number of low carbon and electric vehicles rolled out in several cities including Glasgow and Aberdeen. 

To discuss how we can help you with similar requirements, please contact David Ward at David is an Associate Director and leads our Sustainability practice.

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