Professional of The Week: An Environmental Engineer

This week, we’re featuring an Environmental Engineer as the “Professional of The Week”. It was yet another enlightening interview and I encourage every professional or budding professional out there to read on.

Name: Jima Okori
Location (state): Rivers State
Profession: Environmental Engineering

1. Why did you choose Environmental Engineering as your profession?
Well, my dream as a child was to be a pilot and as I grew it changed to Mechanical Engineering. However, while I was undergoing admission into university, complications during the process led me to Industrial Sciences.

After my Undergraduate degree, my interest in engineering was still very much alive and my dad, a Chemical Engineer by profession,  advised that Environmental Engineering would be best suited based on my chemistry background. So, I went for a Masters in Environmental Engineering Technology, specialising in Environmental Analysis and Assessment.

2. What is the best thing about your profession?
The privilege to synergise between Oil & Gas, Government and Community which I classify as People, Assets and Environment.

My profession enables me contribute to nature. I am not just on a company’s payroll.

I am part of the global climate change and carbon sequestration campaign to save the environment. 

3. What do you do on a day to day basis?
My job is varied, you can’t expect a routine. Basically, I liaise with clients, send field workers to various multinational companies to pick up waste, monitor field workers to properly segregate waste when they’re on site. Also, I send hazardous waste to CIS (Containerised Incinerating System) receive used-drilling muds from various rig sites (onshore and offshore) and weigh the waste brought. I compute and prepare monthly reports, liaise with accounts to prepare invoice and submit to clients, prepare and look out for bids from Oil & Gas clients requesting for Environmental/Waste Management Services, follow up on clients and supervise field workers.

4. What qualifications are you working towards?
I possess an MSc in Environmental Engineering Technology, specialising in Environmental Analysis and Assessment which I undertook at Imperial College London and have also completed the requirements for NISP (Nigerian Institute of Safety Professionals). I am currently undergoing training to become a Certified Environmental Practitioner – NEBOSH (National Examination Board in Safety and Health) after which I plan to undergo training to become a chartered member of IEMA (Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment)

5. What advise will you give someone that is interested in Environmental Engineering as a profession?
Environmental  engineering is a fascinating career choice; it’s like rendering selfless service. I advise those interested in it to put in their best. You shouldn’t come into it with a sole focus of making money. There is a lot of potential that needs to be unlocked in the sector, especially in Nigeria where there is a lot of room for improvement in terms of environmental issues. The profession also has variables, I specialise in Environmental Management and Assessment, there is the Energy Policy option and so on.

In a nutshell, there is a lot of room for growth in the sector and if you come in with the right skills, there is no limit for you to be successful. Possession of good Excel skill, numerical skills, effective communication and presentation skills as well as team work and negotiation skills are of key importance in the industry. Combining all these with technical expertise will ensure you excel.

6. What skills will you advise current and aspiring students interested  in Environmental Engineering to acquire / develop?
In addition to the skills I mentioned previously, they should develop their research skills, be proficient in the use of the internet, MS Office, GIS, SPSS. For those that have chemistry/biochemistry background, it will help if they have knowledge of AAS, FT-IR, US-VIS.

I also advise them to attain certification in some training courses such as NISP (this can be done during the NYSC Service Year). If you enrol for NISP during your undergraduate degree, you will start at level one (1), but if you enrol after graduation, you start from level two (2).

7. In the Environmental Engineering / Management Profession, is it a barrier if your degree is not in Environmental Engineering/Management?
No. Absolutely not. If you have a biological, chemical or physical science background, you can function well in the Environmental profession.

8. Do you have any other interests you pursue, outside your profession as an Environmental Engineer?
I love football, playing and watching. I was in my school team at FGC PH, Uniport Chemistry Department Captain, Science Faculty team member, captain for NYSC Platoon 9 and we won the DG’s cup then in 2005, Imperial College London Environmental team. Also, I am an ardent supporter of Arsenal.
I am also involved in a lot of charity work.

THE END

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