Student Activities

GCE Alumni (10): Senior Associate at KPMG Germany

The master´s programme “Global Change Ecology” (GCE) started in 2006. Since that time, some GCE students have already completed their Master´s degree.
We are interested to know what has been happening in the lives of our former GCE students. A few GCE alumni told us about GCE and how their careers have continued after they had finished the master´s programme.
This GCE Alumni series is very inspiring and the GCE Blog team has the pleasure to announce that will continue the series with a few more interviews. And we will follow with a great interview with GCE Alumna Carla Madueño Florian, of Peruvian-german nationality who started to study GCE in 2016. Enjoy the reading!

Why did you decide to study GCE?

After completing my bachelor’s degree in biology at the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich in 2016, I was looking for a graduate program that could look beyond academic research only and dive deeper into applied and interdisciplinary research, rooted in ecology but with the eyes put in policy and decision making.

I scanned all Universities in Germany and discovered few only would bet on cross-sectorial graduate study programs in the field of climate change (although it is a very pressing issue, there is still a major gap in how universities address this topic, beyond the scientific view only).

I was happy to find that in a little city called Bayreuth a highly specialized (and relatively new) master program would devote itself with answering the climate challenge and finding solutions from research. I was captivated with the program after some Alumni – during my application – accepted to exchange some words with me and tell me more about the manifold opportunities and career outlooks during and after the GCE studies (e.g. attendance to UN COPs, fun remote sensing schools, internships, summer schools, etc).

After I got acceptance from Bayreuth, I automatically enrolled!

What did you like most about GCE?
The fact that I got the entire world in one classroom, 60% of students in my cohort were non-Europeans and thus represented a wide variety of countries and continents! They all brought in experiences and observations about the manifold ways climate change is impacting their cities and communities already.

Global classroom, global GCE: addressing a global issue like human-caused climate change requires global representativity and exchange of experiences – it is enriching to go into talks with classmates and share work and research experiences from distant yet similarly challenged countries like Ethiopia, Vietnam, Colombia, Australia or Peru.

How has your career continued after GCE?
As an early-career scientist you would perhaps expect me to work in academia and publish papers – but this has not been precisely my case (at least for the moment). In fact, after graduating I started working in the German corporate sector – a bit of a 180° degrees change, but why?

Well, during the GCE graduate program and in extracurricular manner, I joined the International Forestry Students Association (IFSA) youth delegation to the Halting Deforestation Conference held at FAO Rome in 2018. During the conference, expert FAO commissioners, representatives from manifold environment ministries and leading forestry and nature conservation NGOs were present to discuss the issue of deforestation, drivers and policy recommendations to stop global forest loss.

During the meeting, however, it became tangible to me that one powerful sector of society was missing in the conversation, namely: the private sector.

It all became embarrassingly evident when during an icebreaker, the whole plenary asked private sector delegates to raise hands, and in a room full of 150 heads, only 2 hands were raised up. I was shocked to see that one week had gone by discussing about the state of the worlds forest and yet only two heads from the corporate sector had been listening to the whole discussion.

This observation was magnified through further extracurricular experiences of mine – as member of the Youth in Landscapes Initiative and attendee to further events by the Global Landscape Forum.

I observe and believe as of today that Science may create the best paper ever, but as long as it is not read and implemented by the people who need to read it and do the required changes, then no change is going to happen.

So that is why I started working at KPMG Germany in the corporate sustainability and responsibility field, driven by the idea of learning about where the private sector is currently standing – in terms of capacities – and what is ought to be done.

What is your current position? What are your tasks?
Currently I am a Senior Associate at KPMG Germany and support the Sustainability Services Department in the review and audit of non-financial disclosures (that is: sustainability reports) by top 30 leading German companies. I also engage in consultancy projects for the private sector, and provide technical support at the moment to the integrated accounting  initiative value balancing alliance e.V (natural capital valuation included here).

How has GCE supported your career?
GCE has been for me a platform to grow, a hub for ideas and to network (inside and outside Bayreuth) – Bayreuth is also a calmed city to best focus on research and classes.

Most importantly, GCE allows students to shape specialization topics – if you have a well-structured research plan, then you will encounter willingness and expert support from Professors in Bayreuth ready to help you best shape your endeavors based on their research profiles from diverse continents.

What do you recommend to the current GCE students?
Don’t restrict your understanding of sustainability and climate action to climate sciences or basic research only. Nature collapse caused by human is a humongous challenge that needs ambition and human talent from all fronts. Lately I have become big fan of “ecopreneurship” – which is the wave of young people bringing into the market disruptive ideas and innovative business models to tackle climate crisis and biodiversity collapse in the way of new services, products, big data applications and science-based solutions.

We are all needed, and if you have the seed of youth and green leadership I invite you to join the Youth in Landscapes Initiative – which regularly holds virtual training events, internship positions and calls to support nature restoration and conservation work on the ground.

Highlight: We invite you to check Carla’s sustainability blog “Tierra Somos” clicking here.

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