How Natalie turned her passion for sustainability into a successful career

23 May 2024
Meet Natalie Thompson, a Master of Sustainability student
Natalie shares how her passion for the environment and desire to make an impact led her to make a career change into the sustainability sector.
Natalie Thompson headshot

Natalie Thompson, Master of Sustainability

Natalie Thompson has always been passionate about sustainability, conservation, and making a positive impact on our world. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she made the bold decision to make a career change and pursue more purpose-driven work. This led her to enrol in the Master of Sustainability at the University of Sydney.

A diverse curriculum

“I was first drawn to the Master of Sustainability because of its interdisciplinary approach,” she says. “While I was searching for the right program, I found it quite difficult to find something that was varied and flexible in how it was run. The Master of Sustainability at Sydney allows you to study a range of units including earth sciences, physics, law and business, to name a few. This gave me the opportunity to strengthen my existing knowledge in some areas while learning a range of new concepts and skills in others.”

As someone who works full-time, it was important to Natalie to find a degree that allowed her to fit classes into her already busy schedule.

“I’ve really enjoyed my experience to date, in particular, how flexible the University has been,” she says. “I’m a domestic student based in Sydney, however, I do work full time which makes it difficult to attend in-person classes. Fortunately, I’ve been able to dial in occasionally or watch recordings of lectures to ensure I don’t miss out. When I have been able to make it to campus it’s been very rewarding to engage with other students studying the same program.”

It would have been great to have a program like this back when I first started university!
Natalie Thompson
Natalie Thompson speaking at eMobility LIVE

Natalie Thompson speaking at eMobility LIVE

A career with impact

Natalie currently works at the Electric Vehicle Council (EVC), the national body representing the electric vehicle industry in Australia. The focus of EVC is to shift to more sustainable transport options like electric vehicles to help achieve emission reduction targets.

"With transport set to become the highest emitting sector in the next decade, taking action to decarbonise the sector today is going to be crucial in achieving net zero emissions before 2050,” says Natalie.

Natalie has found studying the Master of Sustainability alongside her full-time job to be a rewarding experience, providing her with deeper skills and knowledge to advance her career.

“The Master of Sustainability has already been a great supplement to my policy and advocacy work,” she says. “It has broadened my perspective, allowing me to maintain a big-picture view of the various considerations involved as we transition to a cleaner energy system. This includes understanding the emerging opportunities and challenges that we expect to face over the coming decades.”  

Advice for future sustainability professionals

For anyone interested in a career in sustainability, Natalie's advice is: “Go for it!”

“There is no shortage of interesting work in this relatively new field,” she says. “With growing awareness of the need to develop more sustainable approaches to everything that we do, sustainability considerations are becoming ever more important to public policy-making, corporate strategies and consumer purchase considerations."

Every single sector needs dedicated individuals who can tackle challenges and drive impactful change.
Natalie Thompson

Natalie also emphasises the value of staying open-minded and curious to get the most out of your experience.

“If you’re uncertain about which specific area to focus on, take the time to explore,” she says. “Speak with industry professionals, do some research on what kinds of work exist to find out what takes your interest, and consider enrolling in a program like this one to expand your knowledge.”