Q&A Feb 10, 2021

Q&A: Talking with Ariane Brotto, Principal Carbon & Energy Consultant and CIWEM Young Environmentalist of the Year 2020

We caught up with Principal Carbon & Energy Consultant Ariane Brotto to talk about her CIWEM award, career in STEAM and what inspires her.

Q&A Ariane Brotto, PhD Principal Carbon & Energy Consultant London England, UK

At Jacobs, we make the world smarter, more connected and more sustainable - and Principal Carbon & Energy Consultant Ariane Brotto is one of our visionaries, thinkers and doers whose work helps to make this a reality. It only takes a short time chatting with Ariane to see that her achievements, passion, drive and commitment to creating a better future shine through, and that she’s the deserving winner of the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM)’s Young Environmentalist of the Year 2020 award.

For this feature we connected with Ariane on her award, her STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) career journey to date and what inspires her.

What’s your favorite part of your role?

As part of the Carbon & Energy team we have the opportunity to work across various sectors, from big road and rail infrastructure and regeneration projects to utilities, technology and food manufacturers. In my role, I advise our clients on decarbonization and net zero strategies, helping them align their businesses and projects with the Paris Agreement. For me this is extremely rewarding, knowing that I can influence decision-making and bring innovative solutions to address the climate emergency.

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEAM?

I grew up as a very curious child, wanting to know how things around me worked, especially the beautiful natural environment back home in Brazil. Naturally I was fascinated with science and early on decided that I wanted to be a scientist. Honestly, becoming an environmental engineer was not part of the initial plan but it came as a happy intervention later on during my postgraduate studies.

Congratulations on being named as the Chartered Institution for Water and Environmental Management’s (CIWEM) Young Environmentalist of the Year. How are you going to use the award to create a legacy?

Thank you! I feel very honoured to carry this title. My aspiration is that this award will give me a platform to help me not only reach higher levels as a female sustainability professional but most importantly open new doors to knowledge sharing, mentorship and global STEAM initiatives to reach more people, and where it is needed most with the younger generation. Together, I hope that we take the actions needed to ensure that the next generations will have a healthy planet to live on and continue to progress with sustainable development.

To win the award, you had to demonstrate your passion for sustainable management. Can you share with us some of your extra-curricular activities that show this?

Most of the extra-curricular activities I carry out are related to mentorship, knowledge sharing and thought leadership. For instance, mentoring young women in STEAM; advising students in an innovation hub to address the urban water challenges in Rio de Janeiro; advising student groups at Imperial College London; co-leading an international task force on low-carbon utilities; co-creating in-depth technical workshops on circular economy for the Amsterdam International Water Week; and producing thought leadership content, including a book chapter on greenhouse gas accounting for the water sector.

Your story is so inspiring. What inspires you?

Knowing that I can only harvest what I sow makes me get out of my comfort zone and drives me to pursue more. After a very difficult time in my postgraduate studies I realized that none of the knowledge I could attain would be relevant if I didn’t shift my focus to the people around me, on how they would be influenced or impacted by my actions. Since then, my efforts have been on developing myself not only as a thoughtful leader in my field but as a resourceful one, sharing knowledge, mentoring and empowering others to find their purpose and make a difference. This is what inspires me.

What is a typical day like in your role?

No one day is like another – luckily! I have the opportunity to engage with clients across Europe (virtually at the moment), work on business development and bid proposals and manage our team in the London office. Outside my regular role I also take part in leadership initiatives within Jacobs, such as coordinating our Carbon Management Community of Practice and co-leading the Internal Partnership task with the Jacobs Enlace Employee Network global team.

If you aren’t working, what would we be most likely to find you doing?

I love exploring new places, both urban and countryside. In normal times I would definitely be walking around London, exploring parks and restaurants with my husband and meeting with friends.

Most interesting career moment?

The move from New York City to London made me reflect on what step I wanted to take in my career, after spending most of my time in academia and three years working for government. Transitioning into consulting has certainly been an interesting moment, one that I didn’t consider before two of my mentors helped me see how my skills and potential aligned well with a consulting role. I’m very happy with where I am now.

What’s something you learned in the last week?

As I’m currently expecting my first child, I’m learning a lot about babies, the wonders of human nature and how our bodies can sustain life for 40 weeks! I have recently learned that babies actually dream while in the womb, how fascinating is this?!

Most proud career moment?

Obtaining a PhD in Environmental Engineering from an Ivy League School in the U.S. with full-scholarship and honors as the Speaker of the 2016 Class is one of my proudest moments so far. This is especially relevant for me, coming from a simple background where my parents made significant sacrifices to provide me with the best education possible, always encouraging me to pursue my ambitions and dreams. Having my family with me as I received the honors and the degree, as a reward from all of our efforts and sacrifices, is a sweet memory that I will cherish forever.

People would be surprised to know that I….

am not good at dancing Samba or not particularly into football (soccer in the U.S.), even though I’m Brazilian. These are the two things most people usually associate with our culture: Carnival and Football. In reality we have a much richer culture than that, and that’s what I hope to portray through my leadership with Enlace.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the Jacobs family?

Our global connection and culture. Being part of a company that reflects my own values makes me feel a sense of belonging and knowing that all I do is worth it – be it work or extra-curricular activities. Engaging with colleagues from across the world and learning to respect and appreciate each other is a joy as well. 

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