Skip to content
Home » Interviews » Green career spotlight: Abdulrahman Mohamed

Green career spotlight: Abdulrahman Mohamed

Welcome to our interview series where we speak with purpose-driven and sustainability-focused professionals from around the globe. Every few weeks, we’ll dive into their journeys, learn about their wins and challenges, and the resources they couldn’t do without.

Prepare to be inspired and learn something new!

Today’s guest is Abdulrahman Mohamed, an environmental management specialist, sustainable development and energy management consultant/engineer from Egypt.

Please tell us a little bit about who you are, your background, and your current job. What inspired you to start a career in sustainability and what was your journey to where you are now? 

I am Abdulrahman Mohamed. I come from Egypt. I am an Engineer with a MSc. degree in Energy Management and Sustainability from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, in Switzerland, and a BSc. degree in Mechanical Engineering from The American University in Cairo AUC, in Egypt. I currently work as an Environmental Management Specialist at a Consulting Firm, managing sustainability and environmental related projects, both national and international, with over 4 years of working experience.

My current job involves conducting environmental, health and safety EHS audits, environmental and social impact assessments ESIAs, environmental, social and governance due diligences ESGDDs, capacity building workshops and trainings, greenhouse gas GHG assessments and preparing proposals. I have experience working with IFC’s Performance Standards, UNIDO’s Environmental and Social Safeguard Policies and Procedures, EIB’s and AfDB’s Policies and Regulations, as well as, UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

I am a person who likes to optimize everything I do. I don’t like seeing things go to waste without being utilized properly. During my final college year, I came to realize that I am passionate about sustainability and that I have to be a part of the global transition towards sustainability. I believe that the future is sustainable and that what will power and start the fourth industrial revolution of Artificial Intelligence AI, is sustainable energy engineering technologies. Once my goal was unveiled, I decided to pursue further studies in the field of sustainable development and energy management, to prepare myself for a career in sustainability.

I am planning on becoming a Certified Sustainable Development Professional CSDP recognized by The Association of Energy Engineers AEE, to be recognized as an individual with expertise in developing and implementing sustainability programs, alternative energy and carbon reduction programs, addressing environmental issues and water conservation.

 What’s your day-to-day like? 

As an Environmental Management Specialist working at an environmental services consulting firm, my work and duties vary widely depending on the project I am assigned to.

At my consulting firm, there are four main roles that I play as an Environmental Management Specialist. I can be the Project Manager (Team Leader), Project Coordinator, Project Owner, or Proposal Owner.

As a Project Manager (Team Leader), I coordinate with the client, lead a team of experts and assign tasks to the team that often includes social, environmental, occupational health and safety, climate change, sustainability, biodiversity experts etc., conduct site visits, contribute effectively by adding my experienced input to the assignment deliverables and finally consolidate and review the outputs of the different team members to develop a coherent and well-organized deliverable to be submitted to the client.

A Project Coordinator’s role is quite similar to that of a Project Manager, except that, as a Project Coordinator I do not have a specific major input to the deliverables of the assignment. In other words, I am more of a manager than a leader.

On the other hand, a Project Owner is a specialist or expert, who works under the supervision or guidance of a Project Manager. As a project owner, I get assigned tasks by the Project Manager and my output is reviewed by the Project Manager. I am only responsible for delivering my part in a manner that is satisfactory to the client and the Project Manager.

A Proposal Owner’s role is different. As a Proposal Owner, I am responsible for preparing technical and financial proposals to clients, who are requesting environmental and social services.

What do you like the most about the work you do? 

What I like the most about my work is that I get to contribute effectively to the global environment and ecosystem, be part of the transition towards sustainability and green energy, help combat climate change and see my work get implemented. I also like how being an Environmental Management Specialist allows me to work across different disciplines.

I never know what project I am assigned next. Is it going to be a railway project? Wind farm project? Solar farm project? Marine value chain sustainability project? Education related project? This ambiguity and cross disciplinarity is extremely exciting to me and allows me to gain valuable experience across various industries. In addition, there is no single specific task that I keep doing.

In fact, as an Environmental Management Specialist, I usually conduct Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs), prepare Environmental and Social Management Plans (ESMPs), Prepare Environmental and Social Frameworks (ESMFs), Prepare technical and financial proposals or quotations, Conduct baseline measurements, assessments and surveys, conduct environmental, social and governance due diligence (ESGDDs), conduct capacity building workshops and trainings, conduct stakeholders’ consultations and public consultations, conduct Greenhouse Gas (GHG) assessments and prepare carbon footprint and sustainability reports.

Being a Project Manager allows me to gain valuable experience managing senior experts and large teams across different fields, and handling and coordinating with clients and funding entities or corporations, like the World Bank Group, EIB, EBRD, AfDB, etc. As a Project Manager, I seek to implement different team management and client negotiation techniques to develop my skills. Finally, let’s not forget about travelling. Being an Environmental Management Specialist allows me to travel and visit different project sites, understand and distinguish between different environmental and social settings and widen my connections network.

How does your work address societal and/or environmental issues?

In my work, projects can be divided into two main sections: future projects that are yet to be implemented and are still in the designing and studying phase and present or past projects that have been implemented and are currently affecting the environment, society and economy of the project affected areas. In my work, I address environmental and societal issues of future projects by understanding the project’s components, identifying baseline environment, assessing potential environmental and social risks associated with the project activities within the set regulatory framework, highlighting value-addition and sustainability opportunities and finally preparing an Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP), Action Plan (ESAP), framework, etc. that would advise the implementing entity on the environmental and societal issues associated with the project and what should be done to eliminate or mitigate such issues. On the other hand, addressing societal and environmental issues associated with present or past projects involves conducting audits, regular monitoring, retrofitting plans, resources optimizations, recycling and Grievance Redress Mechanisms (GRM) development and addressal.

In your experience, what are the main challenges of working with mission-driven and sustainability-focused businesses? 

I came to realize that there is no clear definition of what sustainability is? what does it entail? what are its factors? how can someone say that this project is sustainable and the other is not? There is still lots of ambiguity in the field of sustainability, as it is a relatively new industry. As a result, some of the mission-driven and sustainability-focused businesses do not have a clear vision of their goal, making them unable to develop and stand unique.

Another challenge is the common misconception that sustainability transition only involves carbon emissions reductions. Being able to cut on the carbon emissions is one of the many factors that fall under the umbrella of sustainability. A sustainable transition involves addressing water crisis, biodiversity loss, resource scarcity, eutrophication, overconsumption, poverty, health problems, ecotoxicity, good and services affordability, education problems, inequality, social inclusivity, human development, etc. In addition, mission-driven and sustainability-focused businesses usually lack implementing power, fundings and community support.

Is there anything that you do outside of your work that is driven by similar (sustainability) objectives?  

As an individual who is passionate about sustainable development and green energy, I always seek to minimize energy and water consumption and food waste during my everyday life activities. I always seek to attend webinars and sessions, posted on LinkedIn, that are related to sustainability to stay up-to-date with the latest findings, innovations, methodologies, policies and regulations. I am planning on becoming a part of a non-profit organization that seeks to raise global awareness on sustainability and contribute to the global transition towards green sustainable systems.

In your opinion, what are the top skills necessary to be successful at a “green job”? 

Due to the fact that green jobs are relatively immature and are growing rapidly, research skills guided with passion are important to stay up-to-date with the latest news about the industry. Communication and negotiation skills are critical as well. Being able to communicate with clients and the public to convey your message and alter their decisions, requires excellent communication skills. In addition, good leadership and project management skills, backed with the necessary multi-disciplinary knowledge and experience, are extremely important when managing green projects. As a project manager, you have to achieve an aligned and unified output that combines the technical, financial, environmental, social, cultural and legislative aspects of the project together, to achieve project sustainability.

“Coming to work in the sustainability field, you will realize that everything is connected”

Abdulrahman Mohamed, an environmental management specialist and sustainable development and energy management consultant/engineer.

What green careers/sectors do you see growing the fastest right now and/or will become mainstream within the next 10 years?

I think, green transportation and smart, clean and renewable energy distribution grids are the fastest growing green sectors, in addition to, product supply chains that are working towards green and circular economies.

What are the most common mistakes or misperceptions you have seen when it comes to green careers? 

People often think that pursuing a green career is a hoax or a joke and is not considered a real career that adds value. During a college reunion, a friend asked me about my current job and career. I told him that I am an environmental management specialist who is concerned with sustainable development and the environment. He told me “So, you are one of these guys who don’t shower and have hairy armpits”. I tried to explain him, what exactly do I do and how critical is it to the environment and that green careers are not a joke. Most people are still not aware of the importance of sustainability and pollution prevention.

You have a diverse background and experience working in Environmental Compliance. Could you highlight some of the key differences and potential green career paths within industries/sectors you’ve worked with?

Due to the fact that the industry is quite new and not mature yet, the key differences between sustainability and environmental projects, are not clear yet. We all know that three main pillars form the foundation of sustainability and they are the environment, society and economy. These three pillars are often referred to as planet, people and profit. Environmental projects are hence, a part of the bigger sustainability picture.

There are many green jobs for people who are interested and passionate about pursuing a green career in different industries. You can become an environmental specialist working at a consulting firm, submitting proposals and working on projects awarded. You can be a sustainable development specialist who has a broader scope of work than the environmental specialist. You can also be an on-site Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) expert, biodiversity expert or climate change expert. Working as a clean energy manager also falls under green careers, where you are responsible for optimizing energy consumption, reducing carbon footprint and utilizing renewable-environmentally friendly sources of energy.

Any “lessons learned” or advice you can share with others looking to succeed in their purpose-driven career? 

My work involves working across various industries and places. This helped me learn about different things across industries, whether directly or indirectly. It is crucial that you stay hungry for knowledge and learn about everything, even if doesn’t sound relevant to you at the moment. It might come in handy one day. Coming to work in the sustainability field, you will realize that everything is connected. Every project is a giant web that has many elements into it. These elements need to align perfectly with each other to achieve ultimate sustainability and serve its purpose. For example, having the necessary technical or technological background will help you come up with creative solutions that alter the project’s technical aspects and align them with its environmental aspects to achieve better overall project sustainability.

What inspires you every day to wake up and keep going? 

One of my long-term goals is to establish my own sustainable engineering consulting firm that handles all or at least most of the elements of a sustainable project. As a consulting firm we will advise on and be responsible for the technical, financial, environmental, social, cultural and regulatory assessment of the project. We will be the ones who weave the project’s web in a way that optimally aligns all of its different elements, to improve and achieve sustainability. That goal, and the fact that I actually and effectively contribute to large international projects, the environment and lives of others, inspires me to wake up every day and keep going.

Abdulrahman Mohamed, an environmental management specialist and sustainable development and energy management consultant/engineer.

Abdulrahman Mohamed is an Engineer with a MSc. degree in Energy Management and Sustainability from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, in Switzerland, and a BSc. degree in Mechanical Engineering from The American University in Cairo AUC, in Egypt. He currently works as an Environmental Management Specialist at a Consulting Firm. He has over 4 years of experience managing sustainability and environmental related projects, both national and international.



Interested in participating in our interview series and sharing your story with others?
Please fill out this form.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *