Nellie-Anne got interested in climate issues when she did her bachelor's in International Development studies. This made her switch her scope and choose for the master's in Urban Environmental Management at WUR. Since then, she has been working in several projects in the energy sector as part of her job at Talent voor Transitie.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what did you study?
My name is Nellie-Anne and I started with the bachelor's International Development Studies in Wageningen. During the bachelor's, I got more interested in climate issues and shifted my scope to Environmental studies by switching to the master's Urban Environmental Management.
The red line during my studies was the drive to contribute to a better world, first by delving into the development sector and later by focussing on the climate improvements we can make. Both very complex problems, which need to be addressed in an interdisciplinary way. I really enjoyed the integrative approach in the courses of the WUR.
During my master's, I have chosen to focus on the Environmental Policy side of the studies and carried out my thesis research on the green roof policies in Amsterdam. As completion of my studies, I did an internship at TenneT, an organisation that maintains and constructs the high voltage infrastructure in the Netherlands. As a corporate social responsibility trainee, I conducted research on how the projects of TenneT could be carried out more sustainably. This internship caught my interest in the energy sector.
What is your current job?
My second assignment, and current job, is at the Province of South-Holland. As a policy officer, I researched on subsidy the province provided to local heat initiatives. In my analysis of the granted subsidy, I have mapped the local heat initiatives, the knowledge they have evolved and what is needed to reach the next steps of development and realisation. This led to recommendations for the province to adjust their policy and offer the needed support to these initiatives.
Currently, I just completed this research and I will continue to work at the Province of South-Holland for my third assignment. Now I will work on a network of these initiatives. In this network, these initiatives can learn from each others knowledge and experiences by the community of practice theory. I hope to learn more about the local initiatives and contribute to the bottom-up developments.
Is this what you always wanted to be or what has changed?
I never had a concrete idea on what I wanted to be. One thing I wanted was to contribute to a more equal and sustainable society. In my current job, I experience that I can realise this by working in the energy sector and trying to accelerate the energy transition. In my work, I also work on energy democracy by empowering local initiatives, which is an important topic for me. By this, I think the energy transition will become more equal and fair.
In the path from my studies to my current job I always have adjusted to the circumstances and always tried to do what I found most interesting. This led me to where I am now. During my studies, I had no idea that I would end up in the energy sector. By following my feeling and interests, and of course, gaining some more work experience, I have found a nice job.
The work experience also did me realise that processes like the energy transition take a long time and that it takes patience. Next to that big companies, like TenneT, Vattenfall and the Province, have long-term procedures. It was good for me to realise that change is not always something you can force, but needs some time to embed in a company and society. Nevertheless, I am willing to be part of these sometimes slow-moving transitions to reach our set environmental goals.
What are your future goals?
My future goals are to gain more knowledge of the heat transition and local energy democracy. Furthermore, I like to get more involved in topics like energy poverty, which focusses on making the energy transition more inclusive.
How do you contribute to a better world and what role did studying in Wageningen have to achieve this?
I already chose my bachelor's and master's out of idealistic reasons to contribute to a better and more sustainable world. The atmosphere in Wageningen was stimulating to pursue this path. Many friends and peers in Wageningen share the same ambition to contribute to a better world also in their jobs. This shared understanding among people in my environment makes me even more driven to find jobs that make a difference.
What choices have you made that have helped you to get where you are now?
During my master's, I studied in Berlin for six months as part of the Erasmus Exchange Programme. I followed courses of the master's Integrated Natural Resource Management at the Humboldt University. In this period I learned a lot from the courses, but also living in another country and getting to know many international people.
I have been a board member of the Rural Wageningen Foundations that organises lectures and activities on academic topics to inspire and cause critical thinking.
For ACT I have done a project for the AMS institute (advanced metropolitan institute of Amsterdam) with students from Wageningen and Delft. We analysed the possibilities for a cable car as a way of transport in Amsterdam to solve traffic problems there.
I also have been involved at the Rode Kruis student desk as a volunteer and have been reading to children on primary schools. This was a school with many children with an international background. Reading to these children was an important means to develop their language and Dutch skills.
What challenges have you encountered in your previous and how did studying in Wageningen helped you to overcome them?
As I already mentioned studying in Wageningen helped me to function in an international environment. Besides the interdisciplinary approach of the WUR courses helped me in my current job by having a more holistic approach to issues.
During my study in Wageningen, there were a lot of possibilities for a variety of courses, going on an exchange, doing extra courses. This approach gave me the possibility to do things and follow the courses I really liked. Because of this I also seek this in my current job and reflect on my future career path.