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Alumna Mayoma Onwochei (Engineering for Sustainable Development) on her studies, motivations and career in the energy industry

I currently work in the area of energy market analysis - investigating trends in technology, policy and economics to plot pathways for decarbonising the energy industry.

Studying engineering for sustainable development broadened my scope for defining the success of engineering interventions - looking beyond measurable, obvious costs and benefits to include environmental and social benefits. The training has underpinned all my career experiences from measuring gas and electricity Industry emissions to advising on the effectiveness of competing technologies like wind turbines, hydrogen plants, electric vehicles.

I have always been fascinated by energy and the key role it plays enabling private life and business productivity. I believe achieving sustainability in the energy industry is an effective way to ensure sustainability in other secondary activities that depend on energy. I also believe in global equity, that solutions should be adaptable to different regions of the world and account for the diversity in economic empowerment, climate, resource availability, etc.

The best moment of my career has been taking part in multi party studies on new technologies, sharing ideas with experts from equipment manufacturers, strategists in major energy companies and government representatives. Being at the centre of these debates and watching some ideas gain momentum in government policy is a dream come true for me. The worst moment of my career has been witnessing and experiencing prejudice and barriers that could not be remedied by my actions or abilities. But I didn’t give up!

My advice to younger students who want to pursue a similar path would be about the need to embrace the breadth of issues and collaborate across different disciplines. And to always ask ‘why’ so that you never lose sight of your purpose. Asking why also gives you the freedom to adapt anything to suit your overriding purpose.

When it came to making a choice about colleges at Cambridge University, I chose Lucy because it was not very big and at that time it was for women who would otherwise lose out. I remember meeting fellow students who had young children and hearing how supportive the College was. I enjoyed the everyday interactions - speaking with the porter on the way in, bumping into other ladies at the gym and connecting with my housemates who were diverse - English, Chinese, Portuguese, gay/straight. Also, I must say I really enjoyed the puddings in the cafeteria and always looked forward to warm custard and cake.