An expert in energy and sustainability, Cheryl Ginyard-Jones gives her insight on Ramboll’s commitment to bridge the gap between decarbonization targets and how organizations can achieve them 

Founded in Denmark in 1945, Ramboll is a global engineering, architecture and consultancy company with more than 300 offices and 18,000 experts. The business combines insights with the power to drive positive change for clients in the form of sustainable solutions that can be realized and implemented. 

In 1972, Ramboll established a foundation ownership structure to safeguard the long-term financial continuance and development of Ramboll for the benefit of their practitioners. The Ramboll Foundation is the primary owner and majority shareholder of Ramboll Group, owning more than 97.5 percent of the company shares. The remainder are owned by Ramboll employees.

“One of the reasons I joined Ramboll,” begins Cheryl Ginyard-Jones, Managing Director of the Americas, “was the fact that we’re focused on people. Ramboll’s mission is to create sustainable societies where people and nature flourish. This begins with our internal business practices that protect our employees, as well as create opportunities via foundation funding for innovative efforts that help the progression of sustainable living around the world.” 

The Americas as a regional business unit has been formed by acquisitions, as Cheryl shares. “We wanted a presence outside of the Nordics, and the US presented a lot of opportunity. Those acquisitions brought us considerable capability across numerous areas. 

“The pace and speed at which we need to implement solutions for climate change and the energy transition dictate the requirement for cutting-edge technologies. As such, we’re incorporating those technologies into our solutions. We’re looking at how we utilize digital technology to make our processes faster, more efficient and repeatable for our clients, alongside how we utilize those technologies in the solutions that we’ve already developed for our clients. 

A career in energy and innovation 

Cheryl began her career studying chemical engineering and her first role out of college was as a process engineer in a polyester fiber manufacturing plant. “I decided I wanted to go back to school to get my master’s in business, so I studied at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. I rejoined the company that I was with previously, but became more involved in marketing, business development, and market research.  

“I eventually moved to BP and spent the bulk of my early career there. I started as an internal consultant and worked with businesses, helping them to develop strategies for growth moving on to managing a P&L, leading international sales and marketing and leading commercial operations for a major business unit. When I left BP, I went to work for a telecoms company which may seem like an unconventional move, but I was looking at developing communications solutions for energy sectors. I came in as a subject matter expert to help drive development of digital solutions suited to the industry. I then worked as an independent consultant before joining Worley. At Worley I worked as the Americas Strategy Director to support their pivot to energy transition. I was successful in helping to facilitate that pivot and happy in my position when I was approached by Ramboll.” Intrigued by its sustainability ambition and growth focus in the region, she jumped at the opportunity to lead the organization in the Americas. 

“I think one of the biggest challenges is prioritizing where we can have the biggest impact. From a climate change standpoint, there are so many challenges in terms of determining the appropriate technological solutions. We have a very broad and diverse set of capabilities, we want to make sure we are targeting opportunities that will be support our clients and make the biggest impact on driving sustainability. At Ramboll, we are prioritizing our focus areas to ensure we have the appropriate market strategies in place. 

Partnering for a sustainable future 

Ramboll’s current operational strategy to achieving a greener future, ‘the partner for sustainable change,’ is supported by four globally unifying themes. “The first is decarbonizing to net zero, wherein we are focused on identifying and driving our efforts in technologies that will help the green transition. We’re working with our public and private clients to address their needs, and drive their capabilities in technologies such as hydrogen, carbon capture, and storage.  

“The second centers around resilient societies and livable urban areas. It’s crucial to create spaces that utilize less carbon-intensive energy systems while increasing our ability to adapt to a changing climate. 

“The third involves resource management, where we advise on transitioning to circular economic approaches that minimize environmental degradation and resource use.  

“And our final theme supporting sustainable change is the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems. Our projects should have a net positive impact, so we are developing scientific solutions to measure that and to create solutions to implement,” Cheryl outlines, adding that the company does a lot of work around environmental impact assessment. “For example, if there’s a community that’s going to be impacted by the construction of a new asset, we’ll work with the community and our client to develop a program that ensures stakeholder buy-in and positive community impact.” 

Looking ahead 

According to Cheryl, one of the truly impressive attributes about Ramboll was its talent. “We have brilliant people with exceptional skills and capabilities who are passionate about what they do. We want to grow that and bring more people into the organization who can help to drive our strategy with experience and innovation. We foster an inclusive culture where everyone not only has a seat at the table but a voice that matters in the conversation.” 

Furthermore, Cheryl notes that plans for the coming months will involve a ramp up in communication and sustainability strategies. “We are currently seeing considerable growth in the green energy transition, largely driven by the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, both passed in recent years. We are engaged with many clients taking advantage of these funds and incentives to support their projects. We are currently engaged in a great deal of work around batteries and data centers. We are also involved in environmental justice, as I mentioned before. We work with clients to help them not only comply with government legislation but also to help them understand those regulations and the requirements necessary to move the construction of their assets forward. 

“Additionally, we are focused on scrutinizing ourselves and ensuring we’re integrated in terms of skills and capabilities. I think you will see a lot more of our capabilities through thought leadership. We are putting out a lot of pieces that showcase not only our skills, but also our areas of focus. There’s tremendous growth in the Americas, particularly in the energy space, and in terms of the environment and water, alongside expanding and growing our management consulting business. At Ramboll, we utilize our management consulting capabilities, combined with our technical and scientific expertise to drive our clients’ business strategies, thereby strengthening our market position.” 

In bringing the conversation to a close, Cheryl shares her enthusiasm for her role at Ramboll, the wider industry, and the monumental shift towards sustainability and decarbonization. “While my early career was highly focused on fossil fuel development, I have been – and am increasingly – passionate about sustainability. This is one of the biggest industry changes and complex transitions. I appreciate the ability to have a positive impact through Ramboll. We have the capabilities to assist clients with all aspects of the clean energy transition. Today, competition is not as important as cooperation.  

“I love being in this space because there are so many great things that we’re going to be able to do, and there’s a compelling reason to do so. The next generation of employees are increasingly drawn to this sector as they see a genuine purpose in the industry today. Being able to work with my team and create a space where people can thrive and utilize their skills to create effective solutions is one of the most rewarding aspects of my role,” she concludes.