After finishing her master’s in Environmental Sciences at Wageningen University, Burcu has had the opportunity to work in different companies in the area of energy services and waste management. Her experience at WUR taught her to combine her engineering background with the practical and technical side of sustainability and understand the role that politics have in ensuring any type of change.
Can you please introduce yourself?
"I am Burcu Ekmekci and I studied Environmental Engineering as my bachelor's and completed my master's studies on Environmental Sciences with a specialisation in Environmental Technology at Wageningen University."
Since you graduated, what kind of jobs did you have?
"I had the opportunity to hold various positions. I started as a consultant for a sustainable energy company specialised in Bioenergy and Waste to Energy projects. Then I worked for a Pharmaceutical Company in Energy Services, again specialised in Waste to Energy and Carbon Capture projects. This was mostly in developing countries.
Following this, I focused more on water/wastewater treatment, on Anaerobic Treatment and desulphurization of Biogas. And currently, I am working as a process engineer and consultant. Now I am more and more focusing on supporting the industry in enhancing sustainability and minimizing the water/wastewater footprint."
What is your current job?
"Senior Process Engineer at an engineering company and at the same time Global Subject Matter Expert for Water and Wastewater Treatment. And recently holding a position as Vice-chairman for the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Netherlands/Belgium Section."
Is this what you always wanted to be in your professional life? Or what has changed"
"Actually, yes. I am lucky to have this chance. I always wanted to have a technical position but related to the environment. I had doubt and hesitation to work in chemical and energy industry, nonetheless today I am glad to see the impact and change we can all create."
How do you contribute to a better world? What role did studying in Wageningen have to achieve this?
"Studying at Wageningen was an eye-opening experience. Coming from a hardcore engineering background WUR learned me to question and combine different aspects. Solely engineering is not sufficient if you want to be capable to excel your knowledge in different levels.
Studying at Wageningen made me a good technologist, who can go beyond and improve the process/product. Beyond that considering the social impacts and role of politics to ensure the sustainability of any potential solution applied."
What choices did you make that helped you get where you are right now?
"Having a minor degree helped me excel in my knowledge. Working at two different research groups gave me enormous flexibility to discover my strengths. One day I was working with GC at the Environmental Technology Laboratory and the next day I was listening to an Environmental Policy lecture.
And also, my friends and communities, who were idealistic and enthusiastic researchers from all over the world. A unique experience."
What challenges have you encountered in your previous or current jobs? How has studying in Wageningen helped you to overcome them?
"WUR thought me belonging to a big family, where we go where we live and work, I do know that I do have many fellows that will be with me when I need them. That was sufficient for me to overcome whatever comes on my path and strive to the best. Which is still my core power."