Renard Siew

PhD GSAP, Group Sustainability
Renard studied Bachelor of Civil Engineering (First Class Honours) at University of New South Wales and then studied Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the same university.
  • Bachelor, Civil Engineering (First Class Honours), University of New South Wales, 2009
  • PhD Academy, Management, Technology and Economics, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, Switzerland, 2013
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, 2014

What do you do as an environmental advisor?

  • I’m a catalyst and facilitator for all the representatives of divisions under the Sime Darby Group. I work with the different teams to draft out sustainability policies at the group head office level, and see that the best practices are in place.
  • I also function as a liaison to investors who are into the philosophy of socially responsible investing. I engage investors to understand their needs and to align the requirements of both parties. Investors come from a finance background so they may not understand many operational aspects.
  • I support the implementation of initiatives based on our own national roadmap. Many of these goals are broad, so it is my duty to interpret them and see what we can do to support these targets as a group.

What would you tell graduates who are interested in your job?

  • Will you speak up? You cannot be afraid to make suggestions. There will be a lot of engagement with different parties. Be bold. Be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Be familiar with the unfamiliar.
  • Do you have a mentor? If you are in doubt, find someone more experienced to fall back on. Talk to professionals to get direction and guidance.
  • Do you have a sense of purpose? Find out what you care about deeply; it has to be something that makes you tick.
  • Do you want to innovate? Sustainability is the key to innovation. If you want to solve the world’s problems, then you will need to have the traits of an entrepreneur.

How can one specialise in sustainability?
Sustainability itself is broad. I started as a civil engineer, and there are plans put into place to promote sustainability in property and construction. The Green Building Index (GBI) is one of them. It is a framework that guides architects and developers to design buildings in a more sustainable fashion, thus minimise the impact on the surrounding environment.

To be an environmental advisor, you will need to pursue certifications within your area of specialisation later on in your career. Students should start off by finding a suitable degree course and subsequently an industry of interest first. Certifications come into play much later on, and works as an assurance to your employers that you have understood what goes on. Come to think of it, many employers actually sponsor their staff to pursue such certifications.

Any words of advice for graduates?
What I like about millennials is the energy and dynamism they bring to the table. They are innovative because they have not been jaded by society yet.

If you have an idea, get a mentor who can guide you in terms of execution. There are a number of social impact advisors who can actually help facilitate interested students. There are even courses that students can enrol in to get themselves exposed, which also helps you build your networking skills.