My path to a senior sustainability role at WWF

“From a very young age, I wanted to be a lawyer,” says Paula Chin. “But I completely flunked my A-levels.”

So, she followed her heart and did French at university, which eventually led to her first job in packaging.

Her advice to anyone who is not sure exactly which career path to follow? “Just do the subjects that you love.”

It appears to be sound advice, as Paula’s career has seen her work for Sainsbury’s, M&S, Pret A Manger, and now the World Wildlife Fund.

She has worked in packaging for years and her current job title at WWF is Senior Policy Adviser on Consumption.

Find out more about the up-coming Food Matters Live careers event series

Paula’s expertise in food packaging has proved invaluable in her current role, which involves researching, collecting evidence, and putting forward arguments to persuade authorities to design policies to the benefit of the natural environment.

“There’s always reading to be done,” she tells Elisa Roche in this episode of the Career Conversations podcast series. “You have to keep abreast of studies, reports and information that is coming out from across the world.”

She says she maintains close links with former colleagues in the food industry, which helps her understand how they are thinking and feeling about specific issues, and then she works with them to perhaps persuade them towards a different view, if needed.

Paula says her interest in sustainability really kicked in when she worked at Sainsbury’s: “It was instrumental in shaping my thoughts about sustainability and presented me with the opportunity to work on projects that were sustainability-related.”

Now she works for an organisation that has offices all around the world. That can present challenges, but Paula says there is something special about working for a non-governmental organisation.

“My experience of WWF is that it doesn’t matter where you sit in the world, you instantly have this connection and ultimately you’re working towards the same purpose, which is fighting for people and nature and ensuring that we achieve the most positive outcomes for the planet and communities throughout the world.”

Listen to the full episode to find out what a typical day is like for Paula, how to get into a career like hers, and what you can expect to earn.

Paula Chin, Senior Policy Adviser on Consumption, WWF-UK

Following 20 years in industry, primarily in packaging-related roles at Proctor & Gamble, M&S, Sainsbury’s and Pret, Paula joined WWF in 2019 to work on the packaging element of the Tesco partnership.

Additionally, she provides internal and external technical expertise on materials-related issues including plastics, with her policy and advocacy work focusing more broadly on resources, waste and circular economy thinking.

Most recently, she played a leading role in influencing Government to adopt Greener UK’s priority amendment for the Resource and Waste chapter of the Environment Act and co-authored a chapter on Waste Prevention and Waste Management for a UNEP Finance Initiative Sustainable Blue Economy guide.

As well as being invited regularly to speak at events, she is the current Chair of the Wildlife and Countryside Link’s Resources and Waste Working Group, an advisor on UKRI’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Fund and sits on several government and industry stakeholder advisory groups addressing this broad topic. 

Paula Chin facing the camera on a white background

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My path to a senior sustainability role at WWF