Meet edie’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2020: Nasrin Khanom, University of West London
This new series profiles the members of edie's 30 Under 30 - a nomination-based community of 30 hugely talented young sustainability and energy professionals who have already achieved great things or are showing fantastic promise. Up next: the University of West London's environment & sustainability manager Nasrin Khanom.
The future of business leadership starts right here. Earlier this year, edie unveiled the second cohort of members of its 30 Under 30 initiative – a group of bright and ambitious rising sustainability and energy stars from across the UK.
After being nominated by their colleagues and impressing judges from Global Action Plan and the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (ICRS), this cohort of youthful visionaries now benefit from an unrivalled opportunity to connect with one another and co-develop solutions to some of the most pressing environmental and social challenges of our time.
In this weekly series, we will be sharing their stories and successes beyond the group, giving edie readers insight into the minds of those who will be leading the charge in creating the low-carbon, resource-efficient economies of the future.
This week, it’s the turn of Nasrin Khanom, who spearheads the sustainability team at the University of West London (UWL).
How I got to where I am now:
“My journey started when I was at secondary school and the director of Global Generation, an environmental charity, came to deliver a presentation on global warming. I felt so inspired and like I needed to do something. I reached out for voluntary work and got to get involved with many different businesses, exploring the work they were doing to reduce carbon and conduct environmental audits.
“At university, I chose to study for an undergraduate in business management. While studying, I kept volunteering and made sure I picked modules with an environmental theme. I graduated at a time when the recession was making it very challenging to enter the industry, so I took one more year and studied for a master’s in environmental science while interning in my university’s sustainability team part-time.
“Straight after graduating, I started to work for a small environmental consultancy called Focus FM. I learned so much there and, after two years, I moved on to a larger international consultancy, where I specialised in ISO 14001 and ISO 5001. My next role was as Heathrow’s environmental manager, which was a great learning experience and led me to my current position.
“I now report directly to the director of property services at the UWL. This role is fantastic, because it has given me a great deal of agency to influence the uni’s environment and sustainability programme.”
My biggest career achievement to date has been:
“Being responsible for overseeing and delivering against the uni’s 2019-2020 carbon reduction targets.
“Back in 2008, UWL pledged to reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 50% by 2020, against a 2005 baseline. In the 2019 academic year, we recorded a 60% reduction against that baseline and delivered more than £1m of energy-saving measures.
“I’m very proud that I was able to deliver this result in such a short amount of time – I joined the university last summer.”
The biggest challenge I have encountered along the way is:
“Engaging people – especially those who don’t understand the importance of tackling climate change. Skeptics are challenging to work with.
“It can get frustrating to convince everyone, and at a university, there are so many groups to engage with. I’ve learned the importance of not giving up and maintaining continuous, positive communication which focuses on the importance of collaboration.”
If I had to describe my generation in one word or phrase, I would say:
A successful 2020-21 for me looks like:
“Successfully project managing a significant investment in energy-saving measures. This is a priority for me in the coming months – these measures will help us cut Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 26%.
“Also, I want to work closely with our students’ union and the students on our PR courses to implement positive behaviour change programmes around topics like recycling, walking and cycling.”
Outside of my career, I enjoy:
“Spending time outdoors. I love going for long walks with my family, so we’ve tried a lot of new routes since March.
“I’m also very passionate about supporting young people. I volunteer as a mentor at my previous university, where I support students to build professional skills and develop career plans.
My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business is:
“Don’t fall behind your competitors. Environmental sustainability is getting a lot more focus, from all stakeholders, and businesses are taking note.”
My key piece of advice for any young professionals entering my industry today is:
“Big companies are great to work for, but don’t pass up opportunities to work for smaller businesses or consultancies. In these kinds of roles, you’ll often get the chance to learn about several different areas and to specialise as well. This can make your CV really stand out.”
The full Class of 2020 membership is detailed here.
To stay in the loop for 2021 nominations for the 30 Under 30, email firstname.lastname@example.org.