Venan Sondo

Venan’s life-long passion for the environment motivated him to move from Cameroon to Germany to study environmental engineering in the late 1990s. He chose Germany because he considered it to be the most advanced country in environmental technology, and he relished the challenge of learning a new language. While studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Hanover, he quickly realised that he was missing the holistic approach to address environmental issues, integrating human, economic and technological perspectives. In 2000 he therefore pursued a BSc in Environmental and Resource Management at the Brandenburg University of Technology, which provided him with the required basis to develop this means of tackling environmental problems.

Building on this foundation, Venan was keen to become an expert in impact assessments, and so moved to England to undertake an MSc in Environmental Assessment and Management. There he enjoyed the privilege of learning from world class lecturers, including Professor Riki Therivel and Dr Stewart Thompson. On graduating in 2005, Venan started at Black & Veatch. Six years on, he has continued to re-invent himself and his skills in response to the diverse work projects and the competitive nature of the environmental sector today.

As an Environmental Scientist at Black & Veatch, Venan is responsible for ensuring the environmental risks of projects are detected in a timely manner to enable sustainable design and identifying suitable measures to avoid or minimise environmental effects. His role also involves undertaking environmental noise assessments, ensuring the company’s environmental commitments are upheld, and advising on the impact of new legislation on the organisation’s activities. Venan is involved in a diverse range of developments, including natural gas pipelines, renewables schemes, environmental noise assessments, and co-ordination and planning of Environmental Management Systems in the UK; it is this diversity in his job that he enjoys.

Of all the exciting projects Venan has worked on, the Nottingham Left Bank Flood Alleviation Scheme, aimed at protecting Nottingham residents from flooding, was particularly challenging and rewarding. As Environmental Site Auditor, Venan enjoyed being part of a team of professionals who took their responsibility towards the environment seriously, including a contactor with outstanding values, ‘Jackson Civils’. For this high profile project, innovation and adding value to deliverables were the standard expected from all team members. Venan enjoyed the opportunity to make his own contribution towards the ongoing success of the project.

“I live a dream, but not just any dream; it’s the kind of dream I always had when I started my journey to become a seasoned and hopefully renowned environmental professional. I love to be part of change, I love to see and feel change and I am passionate about making a contribution towards change in my own small way.”

Working at Black & Veatch enables Venan to continue to make this contribution as he develops his career through working for an organisation at the cutting edge of pioneering technology and promoting sustainable development particularly in the water, energy and telecommunications sectors. Through his role, Venan feels privileged to be part of safeguarding the environment for future generations, and adding value to clients and the communities involved in their projects.

In joining the IES, Venan states that he “always yearned after a body that symbolises the very foundation of my values as an Environmental Scientist, that has a philosophy that aligns with the pragmatic application of the principle of sustainable development in business environments globally. The IES, with its interdisciplinary and global presence, was very appealing to me as I have had the opportunity to gain insight into global environmental issues and different perspectives of dealing with these issues. I find the IES very forward thinking and progressive. I want to be part of this network of valued professionals and want to have the chance to contribute to the worthy cause of disseminating sustainability through knowledge sharing, collaborative participation and effective networking.”

Looking to the future, Venan hopes to continue contributing to cutting edge methods of integrating sustainability into traditional business environments and strategic business development. To remain equipped with the necessary business and leadership skills, Venan has enrolled in an online distance learning MBA in Leadership and Sustainability. He relishes the prospect of contributing more effectively to the transformation of eco-innovations, which seek to comply with environmental standards, into strategic business advantages.

Venan remains committed to his home nation Cameroon, where much work is still required in developing the standards of environmental management and conservation. He is working to sponsor a thematic research paper each year by an MSc student in Cameroon, thus contributing towards innovative research in Cameroon and hopefully Central Africa.

“I hope that such research endeavours will contribute towards existing initiatives to foster capacity building within the field of environmental management and serve as a central database for information on environmental trends and developments in the future for the region.”

Working in the environmental sector, Venan feels privileged to be part of a mission that touches the lives of people around the world, and he continues to pursue the effective, dynamic and charismatic leadership skills he will require in order to make his contribution.

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