Meet the people who help our clients design and build innovative technology solutions to benefit their businesses as well as their customers: our subject matter experts aka SMEs. In this series, we’ll discover how they came to work in the industry and the changing role of technology in our lives. We’ll also get a glimpse into what makes them tick as people outside of work.
This week, we are joined by Natalia Ciobanu who supports our sustainability efforts as our Environmental Manager based in Cluj-Napoca. She is focused on doing good in communities and for our planet, while pursuing many different interests and enjoying a life with purpose.
Thank you for being here, Natalia. What has brought you into the tech industry and the sustainability area?
My love for people and nature, my fascination with the capacity of the human mind to generate innovative solutions to seemingly insurmountable challenges, and my dedication to helping people and organisations harness their innate capacity to do what’s good for our environment and for other sentient beings who share this planet with us.
Today, we’re facing a surge in the need to have the right technologies and competencies to deal with these challenges. 15 years ago, when I started actively engaging on these topics with various communities, climate change and environmental impact were rather marginal topics in the public discourse. In the last decade, that has really changed.
What has been the biggest innovation since you have been working in the industry?
Ah! Too many to count, and each of them was a building block for a new one. Let’s take digitalised supply chains, for example – a tremendous improvement that helps reduce losses and delivery timelines. Blockchain technology came on top of that and is now supporting the transition to more sustainable supply chain management strategies across the world, for example regarding the treatment of returned goods.
What is the biggest challenge or opportunity you are seeing and what should businesses be doing to prepare for this?
Environmental changes bring many challenges to how and why we work. Businesses will need to seriously focus on improving their own environmental performance as well as on integrating environmental know-how into the products and services they offer. A company’s environmental credentials will play an important role in this.
This also sets the stage for developing innovative solutions that address stringent environmental challenges like reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing a company’s or a community’s resilience to climate change impacts, preventing pollution, or transitioning to a circular economy – to name just a few.
What is the Endava project you are most proud of and why?
We were recently awarded our ISO 14001 certification for all Romanian Endava entities. This is a certification of a company’s Environmental Management System (EMS). It certifies that Endava manages its environmental responsibilities in a sound and systematic manner, contributing to the environmental pillar of sustainability. It lights up my heart to know that I can always rely on the support of big-hearted and bright-minded Endavans when pursuing our exciting environmental ambitions.
On the flip side, what is the project or technology that challenged you the most and where you had some setbacks? What did you learn from this?
Setting up an environmental management system is never an easy task because it often tends to add a layer of obligation and formalise the otherwise free-flowing creativity. That’s why I always emphasise that environmental impact is a journey, not a destination – a marathon, not a sprint. So, instead of striving for perfection from day one, we need to keep getting better today than we were yesterday and be better tomorrow than we are today.
Now, let’s move on to some more personal questions to get to know you even better. Who would be your 5 famous dinner party guests – real or fictional?
The Buddha, Ada Lovelace, DS Stella Gibson, Sir David Attenborough, and Trevor Noah.
What was something you thought would be easy until you tried it?
Doing an external PhD while having a part-time job or trying to run a business. That being said, I strongly encourage all girls and women to pursue their passion for STEM in spite of any challenges.
If you were not working as Environmental Manager at Endava, what would you be doing instead?
I’d be helping communities and organisations incorporate sustainability and become resilient to climate change in a different context. Developing educational tools and programmes on sustainability topics is another passion of mine, so it’s unlikely that I’d ever get tired of doing trainings on environmental sustainability either.
If you could go back in time and visit any historic period, where – or rather when – would you go?
I’d teeter between Ancient Greece, 6th century BCE Northern India, and the “Wind of Change” atmosphere of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
What topic could you give a 20-minute presentation on without any preparation?
What climate resilience is and how each of us – be they individuals, communities, companies, or countries – can contribute to it. Why environmental challenges are opportunities in disguise and excellent drivers of innovation would also be a solid contender.
Would you be brave enough to share one of your guilty pleasures with us?
I always enjoy a good cup of specialty coffee, and I guiltily look forward to having a bigger share of climate-friendly, fair-trade espressos on my menu.
Finally, would you share a favourite quote with us to send our readers off with some inspiration?
I love this one from Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”
Thank you very much, Natalia, for being part of this series and for driving our environmental sustainability goals. Stay tuned for more insights into the work and life of Endavans in the next part of our Meet the SME series!
Environmental ManagerNatalia leads the work on improving Endava’s environmental performance. She has spent the last 15+ years doing research, consultancy, and training on environmental sustainability, stakeholder engagement, and organisational/business greening. She has completed a PhD in climate resilience and system dynamics modelling. When she’s not at work, Natalia is likely reading books on Buddhism, philosophy, or psychology, playing board games with friends, watching comedies and documentaries, or cooking experimentally in someone’s kitchen while listening to world music and drinking coffee, of course.
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