Perspective  |  May 18, 2023

What are you working in service of?

Navigating work and purpose in the climate solutions era

by Ted Otte


office workers viewed through windows
Dylan Nolte | Unsplash

Round after round of layoffs, deepest in the tech industry, have left over a quarter million workers wondering what’s next for their careers. I was one of them.

After a dramatic acquisition, Twitter was no longer a public company, and I no longer had a job. This isn’t how I wanted the ride to end, but the hard stop was the kicker I needed to really ask myself, “What do I want to be working in service of?”

At this point, the “tech to climate” narrative has become a meme, and for a good reason. Embedded in the unfortunate circumstances in which many former tech workers (now job seekers) find themselves is immense potential to accelerate new leadership in the climate solutions era with a massive migration of employee capabilities and creativity. The drumbeat has been growing louder in this direction for years, demonstrated by the rise of climate career platforms, resilient capital flows, and the urgent need to equip a new generation of builders.


The notion of working in service of selling more ads and more stuff has started to feel a bit like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

I am not alone in questioning what purpose my work serves. For many working on advertising-enabled tech, the notion of working in service of selling more ads and more stuff has started to feel a bit like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Across the private sector and beyond, a wider perspective shift is taking hold. 

Spurred by increasingly visible climatic impacts, bank failures, war, and geopolitical brittleness, there is an emerging awareness among business leaders that fundamental aspects of our current energy, food, financial, and transportation systems are unviable. The externalities of business as usual are obvious. Interest in deep systems change is growing.

But I’m not here to tell you to quit your corporate job and join a nonprofit. In my time at Twitter, I worked to integrate climate into my role—and since joining Project Drawdown, I have come to fully appreciate how every job is a climate job

Private sector actors can scale climate solutions through existing business practices and across all job functions—and must, if their response is to match the scope of the crisis. At Drawdown Labs, we have a plan for that.

To bend the curve on emissions this decade, we need to pull the planetary emergency brakes while we build out new systems to replace the old ones—as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible. The Drawdown Roadmap can orient action across timescales, sectors, and geographies. The “time value of carbon” points to strategic deployment of the tools, technology, and time available to us. To accelerate the emergence already underway, Drawdown Labs continues to develop new taxonomies for climate work at every organizational level and pilot science-based frameworks that raise the standard for corporate climate leadership.

To bring solutions to scale and build the future we need without overshooting climate and other planetary boundaries, we will need the full attention of hundreds of millions of people directed at understanding the complexity of the issues and actively participating in the solutions. For those with the privilege of being able to choose what you want to work in service of, it’s hard to imagine a situation in which your decisions and actions could matter more. 

Press Contacts

If you are a journalist and would like to republish Project Drawdown content, please contact

More Insights