Tzu Ling Kuo - a career of an IIIEE alumna
Tzu Ling has a background in sociology and economics and joined the EMP programme since she wanted to make a difference. She has a passion for environmental and social issues and is today working in one of the biggest environmental consultancies in Taiwan, where the main client is the goverment. She loved dancing to ABBA with her classmates and think the two years in Sweden really have changed her.
Hej Tzu Ling! Tell us something about yourself and what you’re working with.
I just graduated from the EMP programme. I did my thesis on the topic of energy poverty; it was about the justice aspect of energy transition. I have a background in sociology and economics. When I did my bachelor I learned about the triple bottom line: the integration of social, economic and environmental aspects. I felt that I wanted to do something different that could benefit the world and that could push my studies in sociology and economy further. That’s why I chose to come to Lund, to complete that triple bottom line! My passion for environmental and social issues come from my long experience of hiking. I have been hiking since I was 7 years old. In Taiwan 60% of the surface is covered by mountains so the nature is very accessible and I used to go hiking with my family. But I started to witness changes in the mountains because more people started going there and that gave a human impact and more garbage. That became the driver for me to dive deeper into environmental issues. Now I work in one of the biggest environmental consultancies in Taiwan. It’s a combination of a think-tank and executive group of the government. Our main client is the government, especially the department that is in charge of environmental protection. So I work for them and I also work at municipality level. I work in a project about carbon reduction in buildings and building city resilience, which is connected to what I learnt in the EMP programme. How do you save energy and how do you live a smart life? I’m also working partly on a project related to carbon reduction in communities and factories. I had to get the full picture of my project in a really short time. I have reported to the top manager of the environmental protection agency twice and I never thought someone young like me could do that!
When I did my bachelor I learned about the triple bottom line: the integration of social, economic and environmental aspects. I felt that I wanted to do something different that could benefit the world and that could push my studies in sociology and economy further.
What did the studies at the IIIEE give you and are you using what you learnt in your daily job?
The institute has given me three things that really benefit me in my job today:
First is how I gather and analyze data. In my work we want to compare different policies so I’m collecting research papers from Japan, Europe and America and that’s what I’m working on now. I have to read a lot of documents in a short period of time and re-organize the information. At the institute we discussed different policies in groups and I was in charge of WEEE, waste management of electronical devices. That class really gave me the ability to understand and translate policies within a short time and I’m using that now when I’m sharing information with my colleagues and the government.
The second thing is to act very quickly. We had a heavy workload in the EMP programme and in the first year I wasn’t used to it. But now I think I can react to changes quickly and also organize information in a short time. I have improved my time management skills and I have to allocate my time properly. I finish my job more efficiently so I don’t have to work overtime, even if I’m a consultant.
The third thing is the diversity of the program. People have different nationalities, backgrounds and experiences. The company I work in today is also very diverse, and I can easily communicate with people with different backgrounds and perspectives. I have to give professional advices to the government and stay up to date regarding what’s happening in different parts of the world and then I can always turn to my classmates and say “hey, what’s going on, anything new to share”?
What can a typical day at work look like?
I commute to Taipei for work every day, I live 100 km away. I always start the day with checking my emails and the daily work list. I’m working on a project that will continue until December next year so it’s a long project with 4 stages and I’m now at the end of the first stage, which has been to collect policies from other countries and to summarize that into concrete policy recommendations for Taiwan. I have important deadlines so I have to plan each day carefully. Every day is different!
How did the EMP programme prepare you for working life and a career within sustainability?
The EMP programme is so diverse, with all the different courses and the internship. It gives you both the reality and theory and we learned how to apply theory in real cases. The internship is the highlight because I don’t think similar programmes in other countries offer that and that is also one of the main reasons why I chose this programme.
The two years in Lund have been one of the best two years in my life because I learned a lot and the Swedish culture has changed me! I learned how to live in a more sustainable way.
What would you say to someone who’s considering to study the EMP programme at the IIIEE?
Compare different programs! What do you think will benefit you the most and where can you learn the most? And talk to people! I interviewed some students from the EMP programme before I joined because I wanted to understand the reality of the programme. And then choose what you want! The two years in Lund have been one of the best two years in my life because I learned a lot and the Swedish culture has changed me! I learned how to live in a more sustainable way.
Finally, can you share a memory from your studies at the IIIEE?
First one from the studies: we had a role play in a fake “conference” where we talked about a controversial topic. You had to be in the character and really understand the controversy. It prepared us for these kind of situations in real life. It was a good experience and I liked that; it opened up my horizon!
And then from life outside the studies: we often had Friday night pub and dancing! I enjoyed dancing to ABBA in the institute and that is something I really miss. The dining area on the 2nd floor transformed into a dancing floor and that was a nice break after hard studies. “Lay all your love on me” was our own EMP song! And I must say that even the first year was tough, the sweet memories are definitely winning over the hard ones.
Do you want to read more Alumni stories? You find them here