Sofia Melo Azevedo
Interview

‘I can’t make a huge difference on my own, but even a tiny impact is a good start’

With a degree in Environmental Health and Sustainability Management, 32-year-old Sofia Azevedo boasts a CV that’s quite unlike many of her STX colleagues’ resumes. “Different backgrounds bring different perspectives to the table,” she explains. “I like to think that the fact that I look at matters through a sustainability lens brings added value to STX.” 

It’s been five years since Sofia Melo Azevedo left her home country, Portugal. “When an opportunity to do a traineeship at an environmental consulting firm in Spain presented itself, I didn’t have to think long about whether to jump at it. At the end of the traineeship, the company offered me a job as a consultant, and I ended up staying for over two years. When my contract came to an end, I felt it was time for a new challenge and a change of scenery. Even though I had never been to the Netherlands, and didn’t even know anyone there, I simply decided it would be a good place to settle next.”

 

Rewind several years to when Sofia first made the decision to study environmental health. It was a choice that obviously reflects her interest in the environment and passion for the planet. “I felt a deep sense of urgency to understand how everything is connected in society and the impact of our actions on our health, and unpack why most people didn’t seem to care.”

 

From making a tiny impact to driving bigger change

The desire to learn about what makes everything work the way it does is what drives all of Sofia’s actions and choices. “I’m not naive enough to think that I personally can make a huge difference in this world, but I do believe that by being committed to learning and being self-aware, I can make a tiny impact. I think an awareness of the effect we have on the world, and a desire to at least try to do our best is a great starting point.”

 

Working in operations in the environmental commodities field at STX helps with working towards such goals, too. Sofia first joined the company in August 2019. Soon after, she pursued a five-month traineeship at the European Commission in Brussels, but returned to Amsterdam and STX in March 2020. “I was always interested in working with renewables. By working in operations within the environmental commodities sector, I help our clients to ensure that they’re making a difference. In doing so, I contribute towards the realisation of governmental and European goals in this area, albeit indirectly. As a result, my work certainly feels meaningful and resonates with my values and personal goals. In the future I hope to become more involved in developing the company’s guidelines and overarching strategy, and be part of the team that sets out sustainability standards and certification policies for STX. I would love to be given that opportunity.”

 

Speaking of personal goals and values, Sofia has a few more of these. A desire to not own too much stuff is one. “Of course I have possessions, but I try to keep what I own to a bare minimum. This is partly motivated by sustainability considerations –– but it’s mostly just practical. We’re actually moving from Haarlem to Amsterdam soon, and it’s so convenient that everything fits into one moving van.”

 

A proud member of the Values Team

Another matter Sofia feels strongly about is the need for more women in her industry. “There is no simple answer to the question of why there are so few women in this field. I think the way a company rewards and values its staff has a big impact on the type of people it attracts. Recently, STX established the Values Team, and I was asked to be a member. The team consists of people from every department of the organisation, and in our meetings we discuss the company values. I am happy to work for a company that values what its employees have to say, shares the belief that there’s a need for gender diversity and inclusion of staff from different backgrounds, and proactively tries to change the status quo.”

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