EY’s influential sustainability leader, Velislava Ivanova

We explore the steps Velislava Ivanova, America’s Chief Sustainability Officer at EY, took to become an influential figure in the sustainability field

As America’s Chief Sustainability Officer and Climate Change and Sustainability Services Leader at EY, Velislava Ivanova is a leading sustainability expert with over 25 years of extensive international experience in the sector. 

Ivanova is experienced in creating and executing sustainability strategies and programmes for major multinational corporations from a range of industries, including energy, manufacturing, retail, consumer goods and pharmaceuticals, to name a few. Additionally, she has provided guidance to a wide range of client businesses on how to integrate sustainability into their value chains and goods.

Inclusive leadership, backed by extensive experience

As an accomplished professional, Ivanova is the driving force behind EY's sustainability initiatives, focused on enhancing long-term value for both the firm and its clients. With a dedicated team of over 500 experts specialising in sustainability advisory, reporting and assurance services, Ivanova leads the charge. She states she is focused on: “Delivering innovative solutions to the sustainability challenges of our clients requires technical knowledge, business acumen and sector insights.”

Additionally, Ivanova has a proven track record of working successfully with senior leaders in large, complex enterprises, Ivanova is able to set a sustainability vision and goals to enhance business performance. She has also had the chance to manage intricate environmental initiatives for private, IFI and governmental clients thanks to her work. As well as successfully changing the long-term value strategies of companies headquartered in the US, Canada, Bulgaria, the UK, Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia, Romania, and Belgium as a leader, Velislava has worked in multiple top-tier international consulting firms, where she has effectively led professional practices and teams.

Demonstrating an inclusive leadership style while fostering a collaborative environment to develop diverse talent, Ivanova is a major advocate for the transition to a low-carbon and circular economy. She has therefore written extensively on a number of issues, while also giving presentations on EHS and sustainability issues to a variety of audiences. 

"I assist businesses to advance their sustainability priorities and create a positive impact on the environment and society,” she says. “I am an inclusive leader, fostering collaboration across the value chain, creating innovative ESG solutions, and championing the transition to a green and just economy. I have been privileged throughout my career to work on all aspects of ESG and I feel the responsibility to mentor and guide the next generation of sustainability professionals."

Ivanova’s passion for creating positive change extends beyond her role at EY, as she has successfully facilitated sustainability transformations across various sectors, resulting in tangible progress towards a low-carbon and circular economy. Due to these exceptional contributions, Ivanova has been widely celebrated as a pioneer in the sector, for example, by being named the eighth Top Leader in Sustainability by Sustainability Magazine in 2022 and securing the second spot in The Consulting Report's Top 25 Sustainability Consultants and Leaders. What’s more, Ivanova’s impact extends to the Top 100 Women in Sustainability, where she holds the notable seventh ranking according to Sustainability Magazine's 2023.

The path that led Ivanova to her current position

Prior to her role at EY, Ivanova held the position of Global Sustainability Practice Director at

CH2M HILL, where she was responsible for the growth of the company’s sustainability practices. This included managing client engagements, business development, the development of methodologies and tools and resources management, to name a few. During this tenure, she was personally recognised by the independent analyst firm Verdantix for her leadership and efforts to improve the sustainability sector.

Ivanova also held the position of Partner, Sustainability Practice Leader at ERM, where she developed and grew the sustainability practices in ERM’s Western Division, spanning sales, client engagements, team management and recruiting, and many more. In doing so, Ivanova managed a variety of sustainability programmes for clients – from the oil and gas, retail, consumer goods and mining sectors – as well as large multinational teams delivering complex sustainability programmes. 

Ivanova’s educational background includes an MS in Pollution and Environmental Control, as well as a PhD in Environmental Biology from the University of Manchester. With a diverse cultural experience, having lived in Bulgaria, the UK, Hungary, and the US, Ivanova considers herself a “global citizen,” who has a strong love of nature. Currently, she resides in Denver, CO, alongside her husband.


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