Hlengiwe Radebe | WWF South Africa

Hlengiwe Radebe

Posted on 01 January 2015
Hlengiwe Radebe is a Masters intern with WWF.
Hlengiwe Radebe was thrust from her comfort zone when she became an intern with Sustainable Energy Africa after completing her studies in Interdisciplinary Global Change Studies at Wits University. But she wouldn’t change a minute of it.

This is what she had to say:

1. What inspired you to pursue a career or to study in this sector?
I’ve always been passionate about helping people and the environment but what truly inspired me was Kenyan environmental and political activist Wangirai Mathaai. I want to be the Wangirai of today and tomorrow.

2. What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on during your internship?
One of the projects is Supporting Sub-Saharan Municipalities with Sustainable Energy Transitions (SAMSET) that works with six municipalities: two in South Africa, two in Ghana and two in Uganda. In November/December 2015, I was part of the team that coordinated a network meeting between partners from Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and the United Kingdom, as well as a side event at the Africities Summit 2015. The coolest thing for me was organising everything and sharing the stage with my Masters’ supervisor and the Mayor of Polokwane among other delegates as the rapporteur of the side event.

3. What value has this experience brought to you and your career?
As a graduate without experience, any opportunity to learn and put your degree to use is critical. Everything I have learnt has made me an exceptional environmental leader and each day I continue to grow. I am now certain of my future plans.

4. What is the most challenging thing that’s ever happened to you while in the field?
Meeting with some municipalities means language is sometimes a barrier. Not that they don’t speak English but it’s always great to speak to people in their own languages during tea breaks.

5. What’s the single most important piece of advice you would give to a young person planning to enter the environmental sector?
We tend to do what everyone else is doing so that you know you won’t make mistakes. My advice is to take initiative, if you can think of a way things can be done differently and efficiently then raise these. Focus on the bigger picture. When you invest time in the smaller things you fail to make enough time or space for the bigger things “Rocks on sand”.

6. What do you think makes our environmental future so bright?
More people (young and old) are starting to acknowledge the true value of our environment. Young people are starting to see the environmental sector as a possible career path which is exciting. This means more people are becoming guardians of our environment.
Hlengiwe Radebe is a Masters intern with WWF.
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