Pauline Vaskou (Biology 2014, MSc Environmental Technology 2015) is a member of the Environment Program at Bloomberg Philanthropies where she oversees ocean partnerships. As part of the Vibrant Oceans Initiative, she identifies and manages partnerships to support the protection of coral reefs, rebuild fisheries and promote ocean transparency globally, with a focus on strategic government and NGO engagement.
Tell us a bit about the work you’re doing now in the field of environmental sustainability, and what excites you about it.
I currently work on the environment team at Bloomberg Philanthropies, in particular working on the Vibrant Oceans Initiative to protect climate-resilient reefs, rebuild fisheries and promote fishing transparency. I get energised by knowing this work supports the three billion people globally who depend on the ocean for nutrition and livelihood, especially in the context of the threat of climate change.
Please tell us about your time at Imperial and how it has helped you in your career so far.
I started at Imperial by doing a BSc in Biology and stayed to complete the MSc in Environmental Technology, Environmental Economics & Policy option, at the Centre for Environmental Policy. The MSc course in itself was fantastic, not giving definite answers but rather focusing on the tools to think critically and be able to tackle the source of most sustainability problems, us! I have found that the alumni network is far-reaching and have met many alumni in the course of my day job: having a common ground has been a real asset.
Can you tell us about a career highlight?
I worked at Tesco PLC in the Responsible Sourcing team, focusing on commodity products with high social and environmental risks. One of these was tea, which meant I got to travel to tea estates to support the fair sourcing of products so that UK consumers could enjoy a great brew. I distinctly remember looking over the greenery of a tea estate in Malawi and thinking I was incredibly lucky to work on something I love and see such beautiful places.
Can you share some advice for students interested in a career in sustainability?
Don’t be shy, talk to people about what they do and network. It’s the best way to work out where you want to go: more often than not people are willing to share.
What do you remember most when you look back at your time here?
I remember very well working on my final year dissertation over the course of a few months. I researched whether there was a business case for people to buy sustainable insect food with Dr Tilly Collins and Dr Yiannis Kountouris (access our research paper here). It was very fun to understand people’s reactions and I even went to schools to evaluate children’s interest. Insect food still is a great conversation starter at a dinner party!