Each month we are introducing the wonderful mentors that support the Big Ideas programme, in a feature we call ‘Meet the Mentor’. The programme and the students on it simply would not be the same if we didn’t have this mentor support from our business and community partners, and the mentors themselves get an awful lot out of it too.
Find out more about the range of interesting and diverse mentors we work with on our Meet the Mentors page on the website!
Allow me to introduce one of our Tarmac mentors from our West Midlands region – Michelle Mukona
Name: Michelle Mukona
Position: Sustainability Analyst, Central Functions, Tarmac
· Please describe your role:
I work within the Sustainability team and I am a Sustainability Analyst. As a team, our main role is to add value to Tarmac through sustainability. The Sustainability team is made up of 4 sub-teams which focus on Sustainability Strategy, Sustainable Construction, Climate Policy and Compliance and Regulatory Affairs.
My role is mainly to provide essential analytical support, collating and reporting on Tarmac’s carbon, energy and environmental performance data on behalf of the Senior Management team for Sustainability and Carbon Reporting. I also support the implementation of key sustainability projects that contribute to Tarmac’s sustainability strategy.
· Please describe your route to this role:
Growing up in a developing country, I was exposed to energy security and climate change issues from a very young age, and the eradication of the many environmental threats posing sever scientific, economical and social challenges to the human race have been of great importance to me since then.
Taking a BSc in Earth System Science and studying Environmental Sustainability and Green Technology at postgraduate level at Keele University allowed me to gain real world appreciation of environmental problems and the development of practical and investigative skills, whilst at the same time incorporating disciplines of geosciences and life sciences. I would like to ensure that renewable energy sources are utilized in the developing world in order to meet energy demand and encourage sustainable development. Putting sustainability at the heart of every project is one of the ways in which society can exert a positive influence on the wider world which is one of the reasons I enjoy working within Tarmac’s Sustainability team.
I’ve been with Tarmac for 13 months and prior to my role I worked for Kerry Foods as a Safety, Health and Environmental Assistant. I’ve also worked for Natural England, the UK government’s advisor for the natural environment in England.
· What advice do you have for young people interested in either following a similar route to you or in working for your business/sector?
One thing I can say is grab every opportunity that crops up, such as being part of science projects, events and schemes, and ask questions and find out more as often as you can from people who work within the industry that you are interested in. I believe there is so much going on in the environmental sector, as sustainability feeds into absolutely everything – so much so that you have got to find that one thing that interests you.
Although you can read a lot online, speaking to people first hand exposes you to so much more information: it gives you a chance to gain insights, ask direct questions and, most importantly, grow a network within the industry. I attend construction industry conferences, webinars and road shows and I make sure I talk to people, find out their backgrounds, what their job involves and what their goals are.
· Why did you get involved in S4TP’s Big Ideas programme?
To know that I’ve played a part in inspiring young students to think big and accomplish something great in terms of sustainability is very profound and fulfilling; this makes it all the more worthwhile.
· What involvement have you had so far?
It’s been over 10 months and so far, I’ve attended the mentor’s training workshop, one of the Big Ideas Day events and mentored students at CTC Kinghurst Academy in Solihull who went as far as being one of the top 10 national finalists.
· Has participating met your expectations?
Yes, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a mentor, and it has definitely met all expectations.
· What has been the best part about participating in the programme?
Seeing all the effort that the students put in ensuring that their project ideas are a success, and knowing that I’ve been part of that journey, is inspirational.
· What has been the most challenging part about participating in the programme?
Finding time to attend all the development sessions due to work commitments.
· What have you learnt, through participating, about yourself, the company and sector you work for, young people, schools and skills development?
That it’s good to think outside the box, to come out of my comfort zone and that you learn something new every day.
· What would you say to others considering participating in the programme?
Go for it, you will be utterly surprised at how young people have the capability of inspiring us all and their passion to make a difference.
We are proud and grateful to have you on board Michelle – thank you for all your help!
Answers written by: Michelle Mukona, Sustainability Analyst, Central Functions, Tarmac
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solutions for the Planet Ltd.