Outdoors enthusiast turned climate changemaker: Meet WorkforClimate Academy graduate Laura Wilson

Following Australia's cataclysmic fire season of 2019/20, Laura Wilson found herself despairing at the state of climate action in this country. Fed up with just sitting at her computer and worrying, Laura enrolled in the WorkforClimate Academy and kick-started her workplace’s journey to sustainability. Here’s how she embraced “being the squeaky wheel”.

Sarah Smith
January 10, 2024
5 min read
laura wilson specialized bicycles workforclimate

“The lack of action at a government level makes me sad, angry, frustrated – how many other words can I find to describe it?” 

Like so many Australians, when faced with the catastrophic bushfires of 2019/20, Laura Wilson was completely overwhelmed. But these feelings of despair soon became the catalyst for a transformation from nature lover to climate changemaker.

“I think, at the time, I was feeling really helpless. I wasn't quite sure how to navigate this in my personal and work life – and that’s where WorkforClimate changed things.”

Outdoor enthusiast turned climate changemaker

Laura has spent most of her life outdoors. Whether climbing trees, riding bikes, or discovering the wonders of Central Australia on camping trips, from a young age her family embraced and encouraged time spent in the natural world. It was only fitting, then, that as an adult she would parlay this passion into a decade-plus career with global cycling company, Specialized

“I have been at Specialized Bicycle Components for almost 13 years,” she says. “I love the people and I love the passion that we all have.”

While Laura had made steps in her personal life to address her growing concerns over the climate crisis, she couldn’t shake the sense that there was more she could do in the workplace. So she signed up for the WorkforClimate Academy to figure out what this next step might look like.

“The Academy has helped me realise that my job is the most powerful tool in fighting climate action,” she says. “I want to influence what our future looks like and be part of a company that is fully focused on climate change.”

Making climate work a day job

Specialized encouraged Laura’s learnings, and the flexible nature of the course allowed for her to balance study and work. “The course is your perfect partner in crime in tackling climate change,” she says. “Because it’s online, you can do it in your own time and it gives you the knowledge and the leadership skill set to tackle climate change in the workplace. 

“Through providing frameworks, distilling the knowledge, and showing you how to apply them in really practical ways, the Academy has helped me understand what levers to pull here and there, how to apply pressure at different levels of the business and how I can find allies, because you can’t do it all alone.”

This fine-tuning of skills and building of practical knowledge turned Laura’s feelings of frustration into something more positive – and from that seed grew real change. What started out as small conversations between her and co-workers at Specialized, soon blossomed into serious climate action.

Changing her workplace’s climate impact for the better

Laura used WorkforClimate’s playbook on Switching to Renewable Energy to help transition Specialized’s Australian HQ and three of its Australian retail locations to renewable electricity providers. This was not only well received by the business, but also by its independent retail partners. 

“We sent an email to our network of retailers about the switch and actually heard back from several of them saying they’d been influenced by us to do the same thing,” she says. “It’s amazing the power that you can have as a business.” 

WorkforClimate has also helped Laura influence change on a global level. She implemented a Sustainability Playbook that will be utilised by their Sustainability Champions Program that engages Specialized offices around the world.

Since graduating from the Academy, Laura has been working with the global packaging team to establish a responsible innovation framework that defines reduction targets, and has instigated discussions to transition to solar power for the Australian office, as well as helping to increase awareness among teammates around ethical superannuation funds.

“We are having great conversations around how we can divest from fossil fuels in superannuation, as well as encouraging our cycling industry and the brands that are part of it to have conversations and look at how we can actually move away from fossil fuel sponsorships for sporting events,” she adds.

“It’s amazing the power that you can have as a business.” 

The WorkforClimate Academy has given Laura the confidence to speak up, and help others do the same. “It’s made me realise that it's not just one person's responsibility in the business to make change – it can't just be the sustainability manager. It's everyone's role.”

It may be scary at first, but once you have the tools and the knowledge, taking action is tangible and straightforward. “It's okay to be the squeaky wheel. It's okay to push for change, because we only have one chance,” she says. “Who wants to look back and think, ‘oh, yeah, I spent all those days at the desk just tapping away wondering what could have been…’”

It’s a power that has transformed every aspect of Laura’s life, and she is excited about what the future can hold. 

“Climate change is complicated. But taking action doesn't need to be.”

Want to upskill in sustainability and accelerate your company's decarbonisation efforts? Our self-paced, online WorkforClimate Academy can help turn your company into a climate champion while honing your influence and leadership skills.

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