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Working lives

Your career

Annabelle Giorgetti is an environmental economist at MWH (formerly Montgomery Watson Harza). She has brought sustainable thinking to the top of the firm's agenda.

Route to the job I studied BSc economics and MSc environmental and resource economics at University College London. No engineering I am afraid! But my family is based in engineering - my father has his own engineering company and my brother and sister in law work in the industry, so I have had quite a bit of influence!

I started working for MWH in October 1999.

Why engineering?

Engineers have large impacts on the environment. However, I knew that the focus in the past was not on sustainability and that engineers needed outside resources, influences and knowledge in order to help them deliver sustainable projects for a sustainable world. I saw that I could help as an environmental economist.

For example, I am able to attach monetary values to often intangible costs and benefits and so bring the value of natural resources and people to the attention of project and business managers. This can include calculating the impacts of a transportation project by putting a monetary value on its climate change emissions.

High points I have thoroughly enjoyed working in engineering solely for the diversity of jobs I do. I have worked on sustainable water resource management in China and carbon offsetting in Romania, on integrating sustainability into our environmental management system and also embedding a sustainability culture within MWH itself and its clients. For example, I have switched our office electricity supply to a source that uses renewable energy.

Probably one of my greatest achievements was a talk I did last year in the US to 100 MWH experts from offices all over the world about the past achievements on sustainability. The US offices are now following in our footsteps and many young engineers are inspired by what we have done.

They feel that they too can make a difference. After all, the young will become leaders at some stage.

But above all I have enjoyed being able to demonstrate to senior management that sustainability is practical, engenders benefits which are very wide ranging and motivates staff.

The future I intend to spread as much knowledge as I can and continue to prove how sustainability can be applied in practice and making it accessible to everyone.

Everyone can do their bit - particularly engineers - and it often simply comes down to common sense.

I will stay with engineering for now as I feel I still have got a lot to learn and there are many ways to improve what one is doing. For example, at the moment I am working on making our design procedures more sustainable - very challenging!

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