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In this first article of the Women Heroes series, we are featuring an interview with Simeran Bachra, a Principal Consultant within the UK Cities and Regions Team at Anthesis.
To begin with, can you tell us about yourself?
I have worked at Anthesis for the past year as a Principal Consultant, providing strategic and technical support to local governments responding to the climate and ecological emergency. Through that role, I work with cities to develop climate strategies, action plans, and leading stakeholder engagement to support the acceleration of local climate action.
Starting this year, I’ve also been lucky enough to chair the UK Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee.
“When looking at a career in sustainability, there are so many aspects and areas you can specialise in.”
How did you come to work in sustainability?
During my masters, I completed a paper on international security issues in the Maldives and identified that the biggest security threat was climate change, and how it would cause an increase in displaced populations. I have always been supportive of environmental issues, but it wasn’t until then that I realised how interconnected climate was to other issues the world was facing. Growing up from a family that lived in India, England and Canada, the cross-cultural communities I was part of shaped my identify. Seeing that climate would further migration and remove people from their homes and communities made me realise feel for people who would be facing the direct consequences of a warming planet. From then, I was hooked on trying to understand the complexities that came with trying to solve climate change, from dealing with climate refugees, to working in cleantech, and now working with cities – I believe my experience and perspective can help ensure we look at climate through different intersectional issues.
“I have had different people push me, be my champion, and provide me with guidance.”
Can you name a person who has inspired you throughout your career? Why and how did this person impact the choices you have made?
I have been fortunate to work with brilliant people throughout my career. I have had different people push me, be my champion, and provide me with guidance.
The person who has impacted me the most during my career has been my colleague and fellow cities and regions team member, Sara Telahoun. Sara and I started out at CDP together and worked hand in hand on climate disclosure for cities. From the early years of our careers, we have grown and supported each other. Sara has always been my champion, believed in my skills and talent, and encouraged me to go further. We have always worked very collaboratively and in sync – being able to pick up each other’s thoughts and ideas – while also having our own perspective and strengths. Now, with the two of us leading cities work at Anthesis, I am constantly inspired by her insight, perspective, and the consideration she has for others on our team and clients. It is a wonderful experience getting to call your colleague a dear friend.
“There is a constant movement to uplift each other.”
What has your experience been as a woman in sustainability?
For me, it is not just about being a woman in sustainability, but an Indian woman in sustainability. I have often felt isolated, excluded and alone. There is a growing number of women in sustainability, but there are still few women who are from racialised minority backgrounds. I have always struggled to find mentors and leaders who could understand my experience and provide me support to navigate additional racial barriers I faced.
However, the women that I have found in the industry have been extremely supportive of each other. There is a constant movement to uplift each other and bring each other to the table.
Based on your experiences, what is the one piece of advice that you would share with a woman who is just starting out in their sustainability career?
When looking at a career in sustainability, there are so many aspects and areas you can specialise in. I’d encourage people to try different things and find the area that you are most passionate about.
At the end of the day, every job now needs to be considering climate, so don’t feel like if you’re background isn’t in climate that you can’t make a start. You should always be proud of the perspective you bring. We are missing insight from people from different backgrounds and experiences and women bring that unique voice and perspective on solutions that we need if we are to achieve a safe future for people and planet.