- Kierston Koory
The exciting and rewarding field of environmental services is growing – and expanding to include those who did not traditionally pursue this type of career. Today, more women than ever are entering the field and helping others to do the same.
Our quarterly Women in Environmental Services blog series highlights their work, what brought them to this industry, and what they’ve learned along the way as they built successful careers.
Today, we’d like to introduce you to Kierston Koory.
Kierston Koory is a Client Services Manager with Cascade Environmental. The Cascade team works with consultants to choose the best site remediation technologies and approaches for their clients. Kierston is responsible for business development and account management, working closely with current and potential clients.
I definitely did not see myself doing what I do now! I thought I might become a lawyer or do something in finance. I did not know much about the environmental industry at that time, to be honest.
I originally started college at Rutgers University as a finance major, with a minor in accounting; at that point, finance was my career path. I played Division I lacrosse, and the curriculum for the business school didn’t fit with my lacrosse schedule. So, I switched to a major in English because I was still thinking law school might be the way to go.
While finishing up my degree with only one class to go, I took a temp position at what is now the specialty waste services company Clean Earth. At the time I was hired and throughout my tenure, Clean Earth had a civil and environmental remediation division, which is where I was introduced to the industry. I was hired to rebuild their accounting system (Peachtree – I’m dating myself!). I proved myself to the company because after the Accounting Manager left, I was offered that full-time position. I had several roles while at Clean Earth: accounting, operations, and ultimately, corporate marketing and sales. Going on-site every day helped me learn first-hand about what a large-scale remediation project entailed.
As I stated above, I spent several months in the field at a large remediation project supporting our project team, where I learned so much. From there, I was promoted to our corporate office to work directly for the Vice President of Sales and Marketing. I managed proposal development and marketing collateral production. After that, I spent two years at an international engineering/consulting firm in marketing focused mainly on federal services, working directly for the head of the program. I then went back to the contractor world, with a role in proposal management, marketing, and transportation and disposal sourcing. In 2012, I went to a different company to pursue outside sales; I was brought in to build their traditional remediation services division. I’ve been in a business development role ever since. I recently joined Cascade Environmental, where I report directly to Scott Wisher, Senior Vice President of Operations, Remediation Services.
With responsibility for business development and account management, I meet with current and potential clients about their needs. These relationships provide me with useful intelligence for developing proposals. I interact frequently with our operations team and technical experts, mainly for anything proposal-related as well as resource availability. They in turn support me with technical guidance, and even attend client meetings and/or presentations to help me break into new accounts and grow current ones.
The people are by far my favorite part of this job and working in this industry. I’ve gained so many lifelong friendships with clients and coworkers who have helped guide me to success in my career. The environmental services industry is so small; you never know if your vendor will at some point become your client. Personal relationships are invaluable; it’s vital to remember to never burn bridges. My success is based on my ability to develop positive relationships by building trust.
I’m a competitive person by nature, and I’ve always taken a challenge head on. When I came into this industry without a technical background, I made it my business to learn everything I could so that I could communicate effectively, both with clients and internally with colleagues. I don’t have a science degree, which could be perceived as a disadvantage, but I’ve used that in addition to my experience in different roles as a catalyst to learn and grow. I’m highly motivated to prove myself and to succeed.
I’ve had several mentors along my career path, from colleagues to managers, both male and female. For my role specifically, where I’m expected to bring in new business, one of the most lasting pieces of advice was to not to take things personally: “90% of the time when you try to break down doors with new clients, you’re told no.” Knowing those odds enabled me to continue to stay motivated and to this day, it makes the successes sweeter!
Another piece of advice that has personally helped me succeed is to GET INVOLVED. Period. Network! Volunteering with multiple industry associations over the past several years has been invaluable for my career and rewarding for me personally. I currently serve on the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia SAME Post and I’m the copywriter on the LSRPA NJSRC Committee. These experiences and organizations have helped me to continue to grow professionally and learn more about where the environmental industry is going.
There are so many different career paths that you can take in this industry, so if it interests you, explore all areas to find the best fit for you. Ask questions and take every opportunity that comes your way. Go for the harder tasks, take on more work, and show that you can do it.
What resources would you recommend to them? Throughout my career, I’ve found that my best resources are my internal team as well as my network. Take advantage of the training that is provided at your company to learn technologies and trends, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Attend networking events and talk to others in the industry.
If you’re a woman interested in building a career in environmental services, check out our Careers hub to learn more and see current job openings. Cascade has created a private Women in Environmental Services LinkedIn group to connect women in the industry. It’s a safe space to:
You’re invited to join our new group and become a part of a supportive community! Follow this link to request to join.
You can also contact Director of Talent Acquisition Jessica Alexander if you have questions or want to learn about next steps.