MSc Environmental Assessment and Management - Mahnoor Qadir

What did you study at UEA?Mahnoor Qadir

BSc in Environmental Geography and Climate Change

MSc in Environmental Assessment and Management

Please could you provide an overview of your career journey?

I started my career in a consulting firm called Cynosure International in Lahore, Pakistan. This internship helped me to gain experience in proposal development and writing. It lasted for 3 months.

Once this internship was completed, I started applying for other roles. However due to COVID it took a little bit longer. At the end of 2021 I did two other internships. One of them was with the United Nations Environment Programme and I was based in their headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. This internship involved working on environmental governance proposals and developing a data base for all the projects in Sub Saharan Africa. It also gave me an opportunity to screen edit the new Plastic Resolution and work with Member States for the United Nations Environmental Assembly 5th Session which was an extremely empowering experience.

Whilst I was doing this internship, I was also doing another one online with Climate Bonds Initiative. This was a great internship as I learnt all about Sustainable Finance and worked on proposals regarding Green Finance in the EU. Both internships were for 6 months, and once I completed these I applied for graduate roles all over the globe. I finally landed one at Mott MacDonald as a Graduate Environmental and Sustainability Consultant in March 2022.

Working at Mott MacDonald has always been a goal of mine since I started studying at UEA, so when I received confirmation, I was extremely excited to join and move to Cambridge from Nairobi. In between the internships I also started my own environmental podcast called the ENVCast which explores climate change during different perspectives. This podcast also gave me the opportunity to become one of UEAs climate stars and create learning materials for schools in the UK.

Please describe a typical day in your current or most recent role, what your roles and responsibilities are, and what you find most rewarding?

My current role is Graduate Environmental and Sustainability Consultant. This entails working on various projects from different industries such as rail and infrastructure. So far it has been a year working in this role. My typical day includes logging in at 9 am and going through all my emails.

What do you love about working in your field?

Honestly, everything! I am extremely passionate about this field and just want to learn more about it. However, one that that really sticks out to me and makes me enjoy working in this field is how multi-disciplinary it is. There is an array of topics and subjects that sustainability connects to, and it is great to learn about each and every one of them. I majored in Environmental Assessment and Management however since starting at Mott MacDonald I have worked on stakeholder engagement, climate resilience, and water sectors.

What drew you to UEA and studying your subjects?

I remember in A Levels I was reading about top universities in the UK for environmental science and UEA was one of them. I researched further and I think one of the biggest factors that drew me towards UEA was the amazing lecturers and their experiences. I remember reading about all the research that UEA was doing in Climate Science and Environmental Policy which was extremely motivating and encouraging. Hence, I applied, and it just felt right! And now looking back I can truly say UEA is a wonderful place to be, and it was an honour to learn all about the environment in the School of Environmental Sciences.

How has your degree influenced your career?

I think studying the two degrees at UEA influenced my career greatly. Having excellent professors and extremely engaging modules have really helped me to choose this career path. I remember being in a module called Energy and People during my undergraduate which I thoroughly enjoyed, not only because of its interesting content and coursework, but also because of how the course was delivered in a fun and engaging manner.

I also really enjoyed studying Theory of Environmental Impact Assessment in my Masters. This module was very intriguing as it covered how the EIA process worked, and what legislations are in place. Although it was a bit challenging it is one of those modules that is worth taking, it opens various opportunities in the field of environmental management. It is also great as you get to learn from one of the leading experts in the field.

Due to this module, I chose to do my dissertation on Water Impact Assessment in the UK. Other than the modules, I definitely think my lecturers at UEA influenced my career direction. As mentioned earlier learning from leading experts in the industry was a great privilege and it inspired me to develop a career in sustainability and environmental management.

What skills did you learn during your time at UEA that you still use?

UEA equipped me with an excellent skill set that has helped me progress.

Some of the skills include:

  • Leadership

  • Communication

  • Team-work

UEA also gave me the creative skills and the confidence to start my own Podcast and edit it!

At what point did you start thinking about your next steps after UEA?

In the final months of my post-graduate degree, I started researching for roles and opportunities. However, due to Covid, finding a graduate role immediately after university was challenging. Despite this I still applied everywhere (literally all across the globe) including Kenya, Pakistan, UK and the Middle East. Finally, all the applications and internships paid off and I landed my first ever role in a firm that I had always wanted to work for.

Did you use UEA’s Careers Service?

Yes I did use UEA's Career Service, especially to prepare for interviews. It was very useful as Career Central offers mock interviews that help you prepare and understand what questions will be asked.

Do you have any advice for students about choosing a career or securing employment?

I think one of the best things I have learnt since starting my career is take every opportunity even if it isn't in your field. I think this is something that I would like to pass on to students choosing a career as well. It is extremely important to apply to every opportunity and try something different that helps you to stand out!!

Any words of advice for prospective or current UEA Environmental Science students?

I would offer similar advice as the last question. Just take every opportunity as it comes as this field is extremely vast and the best way to do this is to speak to lecturers at UEA outside of classes. This is a great way to learn and see how they started their careers. It really helps you to understand different opportunities that exist within the field and develop relationships with some of the leading researchers.

You got this and good luck, this is a great field and you will enjoy working in it :).

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