In honor of the upcoming Earth Day (April 22nd), here’s an interview with Lebanese environmental consultant Sima Hojaij.
What is your name, age, and location?
My name is Sima Hojaij, I’m 23 years old and I’m currently living in Beirut, Lebanon.
What is your profession?
I work as an environmental consultant at G.
What did you study in school and what degrees do you have?
I graduated from the American University of Beirut with a BS degree in Environmental Health and a Minor in Public Health. I then pursued my studies in King’s College London and got an Msc degree in Environmental Monitoring, Modelling and Management.
What was your first job?
I was an intern at Croydon Council in London. I was working with the sustainable development team while I was pursuing my master’s.
Who or what inspired you to break into your current line of work?
Ever since I was a little girl I used to watch environmental documentaries with my cousins. And ever since, my father would encourage me to pursue my studies in this domain as he saw how passionate I was about the environment. People including my friends still don’t seem to understand why I decided to break into this line, and till today they still think I’m just a “Tree Hugger”. It does not bother me; on the contrary it made me want to work in this domain even more. I once came across a quote that I loved: “Hug a tree, they have less issues than people.” This made me even prouder to be called a “Tree hugger”.
Name/describe what has been your most rewarding project so far?
During my internship at Croydon Council, I had a to create an environmental impact assessment template which was then posted on their website for businesses to use as a guideline. I would consider this my most rewarding project taking into consideration that it was my first duty as an employee.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has helped your career?
Personally, I would consider that being a woman has helped my career during the implementation of awareness campaigns for communities around Lebanon.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has hindered your career?
I have not yet faced any problems being a woman in my career. However, being an environmental consultant requires having to work on site, I would therefore expect to face some trouble on site at one point in my career.
Please say a few words about your experience with the work-life balance.
Having to balance between work and social life is not an easy task especially at the beginning, which is why time management is important. I try my best to avoid taking home any extra work, but sometimes multitasking is needed especially when one is passionate about their work.
Who is your role model or mentor (alive or dead)?
I think almost every “girl” or “woman” would give the same answer: my father.
If you could give one piece of advice to a woman starting out in your field, what would it be?
I would tell her not to give up, especially if she wants to work in Lebanon as finding a job in my field, or in any field as a matter of fact, is not easy at all.
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– Interview by Elena Rossini