Michael Mahoney, a Holy Cross ‘94 graduate who studied english, says he never envisioned himself working in sustainability. Immediately after graduating Holy Cross, Michael went on to attend Boston College Law School, which led him to work as a lawyer in governmental affairs and litigation in both Boston and Maine. In 2016, he transitioned to his current position as chief legal and compliance officer at L.L. Bean. I sat down and spoke with Michael about his experience working in the sustainability field.
Q: In what ways do you think a liberal arts education has benefited you in your career? In what ways has it (if any) impeded you?
A liberal arts education provided a base for diversified learning, giving me critical reading, writing, and thinking skills to learn in different environments. While I did feel somewhat unprepared immediately after graduation, employers are often very willing to provide new employees with the training necessary to make them feel more comfortable.
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to any student at Holy Cross who is interested in sustainability?
Taking basic financing or accounting courses can be beneficial to any student in any field. Understanding these basic concepts will be helpful in any career, not just one in sustainability.
Q: What stereotypes about jobs in sustainability did you believe prior to working in the field?
This idea of an activist, Patagonia-wearing hiker is definitely what most people think of when they envision a person who works in sustainability. But that’s just not true. Sure, there are some people who fit the stereotype but it’s definitely not everyone. There’s also this belief that you need to lean heavily to one side politically, but your political affiliation has nothing to do with how credible or devoted you are to sustainable initiatives.
Q: How do you see sustainability changing in the workplace in the next 5-10 years?
There has been a shift in how people view sustainability, and it seems that more people are looking at sustainability as a civic responsibility. It’s not something that is going away anytime soon- the field of sustainability is only going to grow, and that might mean finding ways to incorporate sustainability into initiatives one might have never thought possible in the past.
For more career guidance in the sustainability field, join the Health Professions and Life Sciences Career Community in the College of the Holy Cross’ Center for Career Development.
Interview paraphrased and blog post written by Anne Kiernan ’23.