What does it take to be CSO? Top skills

chief sustainability officer leadership Oct 18, 2023

A great CSO is someone who can think like a combination of CMO, CFO, early stage entrepreneur, politician, and top strategy consultant, and very specifically understand and apply that to the culture at hand."

It can be incredibly challenging to match the criteria required to become an effective CSO - often requiring a really broad range of business experience, industries, and technical knowledge.

But daunting as that may seem, the great news is that means there’s no one path to securing the role.

You may have an MBA or spent years in the field with an NGO. You might have started out in finance, marketing or the technical side of an organisation. You may have always known sustainability was your passion and became a pioneer in this space.

Whatever your background, what matters is you can demonstrate to recruiters the skills they’re looking for in their next CSO.

These consistently include...

  • Change leadership. Forging direction out of uncertainty
  • Commercial credibility
  • People skills. You’ll need to be an influencer, negotiator, diplomat and storyteller
  • Partnership. Capable of building mutual value
  • Innovation. Spot, translate and respond to trends

Demonstrate these and you’re halfway there.

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