What’s Your Sustainability Super Power?

Well, my goodness. I had all the good intentions of writing at least a couple of blog posts in January but here we are nearly midway through February! My 2018 has started with a bang and lots going on, planned, unplanned and organic from the get go in early January. So a rather belated happy new year to you all!


So where shall I begin for this year? So many topics to discuss! 

  • Women in sustainability or infrastructure delivery more broadly? Being a female I feel I have some views, experiences and thoughts to share in this arena. I don’t like to make a “thing” necessarily of being a female, but it’s a topic that many are discussing so I may as well add my two pen’orth.


  • Resilience in infrastructure – Well, I’ve certainly experienced some of the lack of a degree of resilience in transport infrastructure in particular in recent weeks! 


  • The importance of “getting out there” in terms of developing your career in sustainability.


  • Having purpose and direction in what it is you’re doing and why in your sustainability career. I’ve had some twists and turns in my own career path and both mentored and coached others. It’s a topic that has come up again recently for me in discussions with others so worth sharing.

All topics I’d like to talk about at some point over the coming weeks and months, but there’s one I’ve been meaning to get out of my brain and onto the page. 

I was in a workshop prior to Christmas, kindly invited by the team at Resilient Melbourne to participate in a newly formed Melbourne Resilience Collective. A collective of smart thinkers and doers (not sure how I slipped through the net! Hah!) brought together to creatively tackle resilience challenges within greater Melbourne.

And one of the icebreaker type exercises actually got me thinking in terms of what it revealed about the folks in the room. So what I hear you say? Great Nicole you’re writing a blog post about a workshop icebreaker exercise….. bear with me!


Photo provided by Pexels


Paired up and in amongst the usual introductions we were asked to think on and tell one another about particular super powers we have in our possession. Not super powers we wished we had like flying or teleporting (as awesome and potentially low carbon as that would be), but super powers that we are in actual possession of, that are our personal secret ingredients to achieving or helping to achieve what we do in our professional lives.

So yes this piqued my interest. We had a room full of people from different backgrounds, discipline and industries, extremely successful people, technically proficient people in their respective disciplines and industry sectors, and people that have achieved some amazing things – emergency managers, engineers, designers, artists, place-makers, constructors and so on.


And whilst all the answers given to what people’s super powers were actually completely different, they were all answers that reflected a very common thread – a high degree of interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence.

Now I’m sure I’ve harped on in previous posts about communication style and tuning in to your audience and “selling” (for want of a better, less cynical term) your message, but I’ll harp on again about it here.

In being in the room with all of these fantastic people, and listening to their answers to this simple icebreaker question underlined for me that you can be the most awesomely technically competent person in the world, top of the class, if you like, of your particular skill set or specialism, but what really sets people apart, what really get things done, as it were, is a high level of emotional awareness, emotional intelligence and the ability to communicate well.

And by communicate I mean listening, knowing when to talk and when to shut up, tuning into people and feeling for appropriate ways to engage with them, how to get people enthused and excited about your topic, issue or idea, knowing how, when and if to guide and knowing when to let people run. Your “book smarts” is one things, but pairing that up with a strong level of emotional intelligence creates a very powerful combination in terms of achieving great outcomes.


And just so you know, my personal super power (according to my icebreaker partner anyway, who got in there first and suggested this) is making infrastructure and its sustainable delivery sound sexy! And that’s aside from me being generally wildy funny (yeah, right) and a World Champion punster of course…… My passion for infrastructure and how we can plan for, design, construct, operate and maintain it more effectively, efficiently and sustainably obviously comes through and helps me in getting my message across.  Perceiving some of these so-called “soft” powers can really help you to understand your key strengths and weapons in your arsenal (to use a horribly war-like analogy) to drive towards more resilient, sustainable outcomes and change for sustainability in your projects or organisations.

So what is your own super power, your “secret sauce” in achieving more sustainable, and resilient, outcomes?



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