SHIFT Consultant Profile: Corinne McLean

Corinne McLean talks about her journey from environmentally-conscious teen to SHIFT consultant supporting climate reporting, plus where to find the best ramen in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Tell us about yourself:

I went to London straight from university in New Zealand. I spoke Japanese so applied for a role at Linklaters and other English law firms in Tokyo as summer work during university. Linklaters took me on and paid me something like £60 a day to be in Tokyo, which I thought was brilliant.

Linklaters offered me a place in London HQ after graduating. Before that I did a couple of months at a Japanese law firm as well, which is kind of terrifying to look back on because my Japanese was really good but legal content is another thing!

While at Linklaters, I went on secondment to an investment bank and found myself wanting to be able to spend more time on the commercial content of the deals that I worked on. So I did an MBA at INSEAD and became an investment banker after that – out of the frying pan and into the fire!

It wasn’t the best industry to be in and have children, particularly if you’re somewhere in the vicinity of a financial crisis. While looking for a path back, I started to attend INSEAD alumni and other events that really deepened my interest on a broad range of topics that would now stretch from impact investing to sustainable finance. I don’t think there were any degrees in it back then – else I might have tried to add another one on.

Long story short, I ended up back in New Zealand, where I now support internal teams plan and find a pathway through the challenges of climate reporting.

I had my first contract with SHIFT in 2018 and a number of legal contracts with them through to 2021, but the increasing focus on climate led me back to more formal and informal learning and trying to blend my past experience to work in that area. I took two courses: the Cambridge Institute of Sustainable Leadership (CISL) Transition to Net Zero course and the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) Sustainability and Climate Risk Certificate.

Around the time I was undertaking further learning in climate, SHIFT was starting to get enquiries from existing clients about ESG and Prue was really encouraging of what I was doing. She thought there would be demand from clients for the type of internal support that SHIFT provides that would involve the vast multi-disciplinary ‘ESG’ space but doesn’t fall just into legal.

Since then, I’ve done a couple of contracts through SHIFT that have heavy climate reporting content.

What makes working with SHIFT great?  

The SHIFT team and the SHIFT community and their values and compassion, and flexibility of contract hours and length if you need it – it is rare in the rest of the workforce.

What do you love about the job you do?   

Meeting great people and constant learning.

There are a lot of things I care about and I want to work in an area I care about. Since the GFC I’d been looking for a way to try to get back to some kind of sustainability role. Climate reporting is just one small aspect, but it does raise awareness of climate issues and that’s a massive positive.

What’s the best book/podcast/show you have recently indulged in?

I’ve just read Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton – a mixture of bleak and enchanting that once again makes me incredibly grateful for the education and opportunities I have had. There’s a great ABC interview with the author Anna Funder. There are a couple of GARP podcasts about climate scenarios and climate modelling, which push at some of the status quo on climate scenarios. I love Simon Pound’s Business is Boring podcast. It always showcases really cool New Zealand businesses that are really innovative and courageous and the latest episode focused on the challenges of climate change-related communication.

Favourite Restaurant or Café and any menu recommendations?

There’s a place called Ramen Do at the top of Symonds Street that is run by an old Japanese couple and they make their own stock. I am always looking for genuine Japanese food and that’s the closest that I have got so far. It’s really delicious ramen.

Favourite way to unwind? 

Walking somewhere beautiful and quiet at one of the spectrum and live music at the other. My last three concerts were James Taylor, Foo Fighters and Synthony – all here in Auckland.