Martin Fryer is the Sustainability Manager at Mercury NZ, a 100% renewable energy generator and retailer based in New Zealand, with hydro, geothermal and solar assets. On a typical day, he can be found running comprehensive stakeholder engagement exercises for the company’s annual report, preparing the company’s carbon management plan, or using sustainability to improve the company’s employee value proposition. Within this role, Martin sits within the Risk and Assurance Department of the Finance Team which he admits may seem like an odd location for a sustainability role however, as the Finance Team are responsible for business planning, it has provided an opportunity to work closely with the Executive Team and embed sustainability into long-term strategy. Martin notes that the job is both rewarding and challenging, for example when convincing people that the ‘small things’, such as office waste recycling and staff travel, are just as important as windfarms, but cites the best part of the role as working for an organisation that is part of the solution to climate change.
After studying for a degree in Environmental Science, Martin began his career working on an environmental media campaign in Blackburn, Lancashire. After two years, he returned to study and gained a post-graduate diploma in Advanced Environmental Practice accredited by the IES. The course included one year of distance learning, during which Martin worked in local Government and, as part of the role, he was asked to review the recycling plans of various local authorities. This experience proved invaluable as it provided a pathway into a full-time Recycling Officer role in London. After five years, Martin moved into the private sector as Environmental Manager for a food company and, from 2001 onwards, following a move to New Zealand, went on to hold environmental management roles in the aggregate, steel and aviation industries. In 2007, he gained his first sustainability-related position with Auckland Airport – a post he held for ten years – before joining Mercury.
Martin notes that to succeed in the environmental and sustainability space, having post-graduate qualifications has fast become a minimum requirement and in 2017, he completed a Masters in Business Administration. Looking to the future, he would consider moving into a general management position in order to fully utilise the additional skills and knowledge gained on the course, although he is keen to remain working for an organisation delivering sustainable outcomes or giving back to society.
Whilst working as Sustainability Manager for Auckland Airport, Martin worked in partnership with national and local Government, the construction supply chain, local educational institutes and training providers to establish a jobs and skills hub at the airport. This enabled local people to gain access to basic skills training that would improve their employability, as well as allowing the airport contractors to draw their labour force from the local community, contributing to positive social outcomes. The Ara Jobs and Skills hub is still operating today and the model has since been repeated around Auckland.
Martin has been a Full member of the IES since 1992 and, in 2005, achieved Chartered Environmentalist status. “Having CEnv status has certainly helped me in my career as it shows and reflects a personal commitment to attaining and maintaining the highest standards.”