In this latest LEAN IN Equity & Sustainability instalment, we speak with Ms Sameera Issa, Sustainability Advisor at KLH Sustainability.
Where did you grow up, and what did you want to do when you were a little girl?
I grew up between Romania and Jordan and studied in Jordan and the UK. I remember that the first thing I chose was to be a doctor. Then the stars and clouds caught my eye, and I realised that the only way to reach them was to become an astronaut. But those were my career considerations before I was eight years old, and I hadn’t even flown. Then I travelled and started to notice the top view of buildings and cities, which awakened my desire for architecture. I began to capture images of different building styles, urbanism and design through sketches and photographs.
Can you describe what you do today?
I am an architect and sustainability consultant and have worked on various projects, including low energy, net zero and Passivhaus designs. I have been fortunate to be involved in these projects, from design to construction, as well as architecture and sustainability consultancy. I am a member of the mentoring programme for women in STEM & engineering (WiBEC) in London to support young women at the start of their careers.
What is your most challenging experience as a woman in your sector of activity?
As a woman working in a male-dominated sector, I have faced many challenges related to work-life balance, career development opportunities and fair pay. One experience I cannot erase from my memory is when I started applying for jobs after graduation. At one of the interviews, I was told that male candidates were preferable. I was furious, but looking back, I feel blessed that I was not selected for the job, as the company did not match my values.
If you had one piece of advice to give to young girls today, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to take chances, pursue your dreams and remember that nothing is impossible!
And lastly, what would you wish for our planet today if you had a magic wand?
I wish everyone would start accepting individual differences. This would help us to focus on creating solutions for important issues such as poverty, climate change and health care.
Imagine the world we could create if we stopped wasting our resources and time arguing about our differences and worked together for a better future for everyone.