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 Tran Le Nguyen Bao, an environmental and social executive.
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?
Hello, I am very happy to be here today. My name is Tran, I grew up in Vietnam, which is a center of trading, cultural interaction.
The reason I chose the Environment for my career is very simple, I like to observe everything around me and always find a reason for its existence.
In the past, I was an environmental researcher and worked in a laboratory, specifically doing experiments on the toxicity of and its influence on organisms. It helped me to have more insight into overdose. After that, I researched more about the sources of pollution in the groundwater, which is also considered to be clean water suitable for or daily drinking and domestic purposes.
I am currently an environmental and social expert for a renewable energy company. I use the skills and knowledge from my previous research and experience for fulfilling the requirements of all the regulations applicable by Vietnam laws & IFC of World Bank and Armstrong Asset Management law.
I not only support the environmental and social functions but also improve the environmental management process at the company, I help the company stand out from others and make a more significant impact on the environment.
What’s your day-to-day like?
At the beginning of the day, I get up quite early, I spend time for meditation, yoga, and listening to audiobooks. I usually prepare breakfast by myself, so that I can check the nutrition as well as energy for a day.
I arrange my work, check emails, solve quickly and promptly the problems for the projects and power plants, give the most suitable course of action and make good its shortcomings. Ensuring all Environmental and Social records, and data are updated and reported in a timely and accurate manner is part of my daily job.
After work, I have time for relationships, taking care of the small vegetable garden, or learning new courses.
What do you like the most about the work you do?
As you know, each project, each power plant has its own aspects as well as environmental and social impacts, how to find gaps, seek a suitable remedy for it and improve to make sure environmental and social problems, organizing these in a systematic way is my favorite job. It took a long time to find a gap, however, when I come up with a good solution, I feel very happy.
In your experience, what are the main challenges of working with mission driven and sustainability focused businesses?
Getting the three factors, economic – social – environmental, into exact position is one of the important challenges of a company whenever investing in a project. In particular, special attention to the role of the environment in sustainable development is an inevitable matter because it is wasting time and money on the restoration of the environment. To do this, it is vital to have the co-management of natural resources by stakeholders on the principle of understanding – sharing – responsibility.
Is there anything that you do outside of your work that is driven by similar (sustainability) objectives?
After work, time for myself is also very important to me. I always search for and read documents as well as scientific papers related to technology sustainable development and application in daily life, specifically, I always choose environmentally friendly materials, easily recyclable/compostable whenever possible.
In your opinion, what are the top skills necessary to be successful at a “green job”?
Many people wonder what skills are needed for a green job. Due to the variety of these jobs, it is difficult to limit the recommendations to a specific set of skills and experiences.
For instance, if we take an entrepreneur as an example, this person must be trained in the company culture. From the moment that company develops a product with the goal of protecting the environment, it is considered a green product. This automatically becomes a green job. The same will happen with different fields such as law, design, etc. All of this makes it quite difficult to determine what training is considered to be required for a green job. Each field will have its work specialization. Another example would be an engineer specializing in renewable energy who will need some additional training and specialization to be able to work in the green field.
On the other hand, a lawyer specializing in environmental law will be fully trained. The same goes for an architect who focuses on green architecture. To understand the ecosystem, the planet as well as sustainable development, it would be beneficial to study environmental science.
In short, the choice of green work or not depends on each person, but once you develop the skills and set sustainable goals, congratulations, you are now ready for a green job.
What are the most common mistakes or misperceptions you have seen when it comes to green careers?
As I mentioned above, it is not necessary to have a background in environmental protection or ecology to have a green career. The other jobs that are applied for the common purpose of sustainable development are also considered to be green careers.
You have a diverse background and experience in environmental research and management. Could you highlight some of the key differences and potential green career paths within industries/sectors you’ve worked with?
The development of renewable energy, especially wind power and solar power, is considered a current trend and is one of the important solutions contributing to the full exploitation of renewable resources to generate electricity for the socio-economic development of Vietnam. The development of renewable energy helps protect the environment, respond to climate change, and take advantage of the fallow land that cannot be cultivated, is for grid-connected projects; take advantage of roofs of households, agencies, offices, industrial parks, and clusters to install; timely replenishment of power sources that are behind schedule; increase financial benefits for local, businesses and create jobs for workers.
The development of renewable energy would have great opportunities for thousands of businesses in all fields to participate in the market from investing, researching, developing new technology solutions applied to management, operating the power system; manufacturing products and equipment for domestic and export markets; training high-tech human resources; banking and insurance services. Therefore, professional development in renewable energy requires intensive training.
Any “lessons learned” or advice you can share with others looking to succeed in their purpose-driven career?
When confronted with a new issue, different from what you’ve dealt with before, the best solution is to overcome fear, go through it, face it and you will always find a way to do it perfectly.
What inspires you every day to wake up and keep going?
My future. The future is determined by perception. Becoming a profound or a superficial person, a positive or negative person, a winner or a loser… all comes from awareness. Once having logical and depth perception, everything will be lighter. If I know who I am, what my life mission is, I will live a meaningful, complete life without regrets.
I’m Tran and I am an environmental and social executive in a renewable energy company – manufacturing, transmitting and distributing electricity from hydopower, solar power and wind power. Sustainable development for businesses, the perfect combination of three factors economic – environment – society and support related functions to create sustainable value for the Company. I help them get there.