Happy International Women’s Day 2022 from the BLUEPRINT Project

Lily Chambers, BLUEPRINT Project Communications Officer 7th March 2022

International Women’s Day is a global day to celebrate women, recognise their achievements and challenge stereotypes and bias. This day belongs to all groups and organisations across the world that strive for gender equality. First celebrated over a century ago in 1911, March 8 is a recognised day to highlight the value of women forging change.

The BLUEPRINT Project is supported by some amazing women, who make up 65% of the project team.

We’ve highlighted a handful of the inspirational women working on this cross-border project, each creating sustainable change and a more positive tomorrow. Read on to find out about their journeys, achievements and why they enjoy working on BLUEPRINT.

Women holding up sign that says 'Women's Day'
International Women's Day was first celebrated over a century ago in 1911.

Name: Natalie Louise Monteiro
Job title: Circular Economy Analyst EcoWise

What's your top tip for anyone looking to start a career in environment and climate?

Networking is key! It can be helpful to meet people working in a sector you’re interested in so you can promote yourself and ask for advice. This way, you can ensure the role lines up with your interests.

What is your proudest achievement to date?

During my final year at university, I had the opportunity to work on a waste management project that diverted unwanted items away from landfill and donated them to charities instead. I was really proud to have helped divert tons of good-quality items. I co-authored a paper on the e-waste data collected from this project that was published in a Waste Management Journal. 

 Briefly describe your journey to the BLUEPRINT Project:

I graduated from the University of Southampton with a degree in Environmental Science focusing on sustainable development. For my master’s dissertation, I then explored clinical waste management, which I found extremely interesting.

From then on, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in waste management or circularity. I completed two internships: one in food waste management and another at a renewable drinking water company in Dubai. This led me to the BLUEPRINT Project, where I can now use all my experience and skills  to make a positive difference.

What do you most enjoy about working on the BLUEPRINT Project/ what is the most fulfilling aspect?

Knowing I am contributing towards a better world is very fulfilling. However, I enjoy learning about new things within circularity every day. Working with incredible people who are paving the way for new processes also makes my role more exciting and enjoyable.

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Natalie Monteiro - A Circular Economy Analyst at EcoWise.

Name: Lauren Cox 
Job title: Project Coordinator - PECT

What's your top tip for anyone looking to start a career in environment and climate?

Believing that any opportunity is a good one. Sustainability is such a multifaceted subject that requires all sorts of skills and knowledge. My experiences so far have ranged from the natural environment and logistics to hospitality. Whilst very different, each has given me a broad insight into the challenges of different industries that I am able to draw upon today. 

What is your proudest achievement to date?

Getting through my master’s degree! 

Briefly describe your journey to the BLUEPRINT Project:

I came from a Master's of Research in Sustainable Futures and was surrounded by others researching the circular economy. It was a new term then, but I feel well versed in it now. 

What do you most enjoy about working on the BLUEPRINT Project/ what is the most fulfilling aspect?

There is such a range of partners on the project with all sorts of expertise. I’m learning a lot from others whilst also delivering rewarding work in the local community. Each day is completely different, which is great! 

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Lauren Cox - A Project Coordinator at PECT.

Name: Katy Chambers
Job title: Circular Economy Development Manager – Essex County Council

What's your top tip for anyone looking to start a career in environment and climate? 

Just go for it! I don’t have a background in environment and climate but have found I have lots of transferable knowledge and skills. If you are willing to learn and ask lots of questions about the subject, everyone is happy to share their knowledge and insight. 

What is your proudest achievement to date?

Supporting lots of new entry to work candidates to join the organisation within the environment and climate sector and seeing them progress and enjoy their roles.  

Briefly describe your journey to the BLUEPRINT Project:

I’ve been a project and team manager within Essex County Council for nearly 18 years and I’ve been lucky to support projects that improve the way we work or the services we provide. I was attracted to work on the BLUEPRINT Project because of the opportunity to put models and best practice in place as an example for other local authorities in the project area and across the UK and France.

What do you most enjoy about working on the BLUEPRINT Project/ what is the most fulfilling aspect?

Witnessing the learning and case studies coming together ready to share with other local authorities.

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Katy Chambers - A Circular Economy Development Manager at Essex County Council.

Name: Diya Salhab
Job title: Circular Economy Analyst - EcoWise


What's your top tip for anyone looking to start a career in environment and climate?

Start developing your interests by reading up on different topics and to identifying the organisations or roles that align best with your passions and skills. Volunteering with environmental NGOs can also be a fun and helpful way to get experience within the field!

What is your proudest achievement to date?

Writing my university dissertation on microplastics in Lebanon. I am proud of this work as it allowed me to derive impactful insights to identify the abundance of microplastics on my home country’s coast.

Briefly describe your journey to the BLUEPRINT Project:

I started working at EcoWise in August 2021, a year after graduating from a degree in Geography. I had previously interned with an environmental engineering company in Lebanon, as well as recycling NGO, so I found that the BLUEPRINT Project really aligned with my interest in environmental pollution. In addition, I am motivated by the variety of activities in the project.

What do you most enjoy about working on the BLUEPRINT Project/ what is the most fulfilling aspect?

I enjoy the applied angle of the project as it means the BLUEPRINT Model will have a direct, positive impact on residents and local authorities. It is very fulfilling to develop useful tools (such as the wardrobe survey) that can help a local authority understand how to prevent, reduce, or better manage waste.

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Diya Salhab - A Circular Economy Analyst at EcoWise.

Name: Leah Martin
Job title: Project Communications Lead – Essex County Council

What's your top tip for anyone looking to start a career in environment and climate?

Practise what you preach! It’s much easier and more enjoyable to communicate about the environment if you’re doing your bit to protect it.
I’d also recommend taking every opportunity to learn and develop. The world of waste, environment and climate action is always changing. From legislation amendments to new ways to engage residents, it’s a fast-paced industry that can be challenging to stay on top of. Try to keep up with the news, network with colleagues and attend conferences wherever possible.

What is your proudest achievement to date?

Launching the BLUEPRINT website was a big learning curve for me. I’d worked on small-scale web development projects before but hadn’t witnessed a web build from conception to delivery. I’m proud there’s now a digital home for all of BLUEPRINT’s fantastic achievements and I’ve learned so much for future projects.

Briefly describe your journey to the BLUEPRINT Project:

I’ve worked in communications since 2016. Over the years, I’ve interned at an events start-up in Munich, supported charities’ social media platforms, created content for travel sites and developed newsletters for restaurants.

In 2019, I started working for Chelmsford City Council on a project supporting primary schools. I’d never thought about working for a local authority, but instantly fell in love with it and enjoyed making a tangible difference to my community.
When I spotted this vacancy within the BLUEPRINT Project, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine my skills, experience and interests to make a real impact! 

What do you most enjoy about working on the BLUEPRINT Project/ what is the most fulfilling aspect?

I love the fact no two days are the same! One day, I could be supporting the team on a communications plan for a behaviour change campaign, and the next I could be drafting content about an exciting training opportunity. Every day offers a new chance to learn and tasks definitely keep me on my toes!

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Leah Martin - A Project Communications Lead at Essex County Council.

Name: Maria Basilisco
Job title: Project Coordinator - PECT

What's your top tip for anyone looking to start a career in environment and climate?

Gain as much knowledge as you can in the area that interests you! You could read relevant literature, attend events and webinars, and network to hear from professionals in the field. Volunteering is also a great way to get involved and make a real impact.

What is your proudest achievement to date?

Whilst I was at the University of Durham, I captained Hild Bede’s women’s football team to their first cup final in 5 years which resulted in our team being voted college club of the year.

Briefly describe your journey to the BLUEPRINT Project:

After graduating with a degree in Geography and learning about our overconsumption problem, I decided to pursue a career that aims to increase resource efficiency and reduce waste. As I had specialised in the study of microplastic contamination in fluvial systems, I volunteered at a few organisations aiming to tackle plastic pollution and encourage sustainable development. I then completed an internship at a start-up design studio, Ty Syml, which makes compostable interior products using organic waste. I worked with Ty Syml for just under a year before starting as a Project Coordinator within the BLUEPRINT Project.

What do you most enjoy about working on the BLUEPRINT Project/ what is the most fulfilling aspect?

I really enjoy engaging and supporting the community, particularly on PECT’S flat recycling pilot, which I am leading. I find value in speaking to residents to understand their challenges and identify effective solutions that will help with reducing waste.

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Maria Basilisco - Project Coordinator at PECT

Find out more about International Women’s Day and join the community.