Somayeh Cardeijn

The path to EHS, education and professional career

Which program did you study at EHS?

I studied a master’s in human rights

Why did you choose to study at EHS?

Because it was Sweden’s first university to start an MR education and because the school was located in Stockholm, which suited me perfectly. In addition it was a small school which I appreciated a lot as it is more personal and I had better contact with the teachers.

What did you enjoy the most during your studies at EHS?

The teachers and subjects were enjoyable and interesting. I especially appreciated all the assignments we had each week, which sharpened me a lot and it was a really enjoyable way to learn how to deal with challenging questions.

What did you write your essay about?

I wrote about “Just Transitions” because we are in a time where much of the world must be changed to become more climate-friendly. I saw that various important sustainability issues such as climate and MR came into conflict. I wanted to investigate how the Global Sustainability Goals can work together instead of us creating a scenario where one comes at the expense of the other.

What have you been working on since graduating from EHS?

I started working at a non-profit organization with, among other things, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). After six months I decided to start my own business and get my certificate as a sustainability strategist. The reason was simple, I wanted to work in a context where I had more influence than in my previous employment.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?

The most enjoyable parts of my work are being able to work both the big picture and in detail, never being ‘too old to learn’ and always being open to new ways of working. As a self-employed person, I mostly work by myself apart from the accounting, for which I usually bring in an accountant. The work as a sustainability strategist is a constant puzzle, e.g. what should be prioritized in context A compared to context B. How I balance issues can have a decisive role in each project, i.e. the details are just as important as having a good structure and a good framework. Zooming out and zooming in to get an overall picture is fun and sometimes I feel like an artist with a pen instead of a brush. Every stroke and word does its job in project work.

What is the most important thing you took with you from EHS into working life?

One important part of the education that I took with me into working life has been to believe in my ability to make my way through a forest of knowledge and research in order to find answers to challenging issues – that has been a big key factor in my work.
Examples of this were how the courses were laid out and the information we received during the training, which gave me the self-confidence which now helps me in my work. All the assignments we had every week and the way we had to present our case and argue have given me important tools.

Has your work given you any unexpected experience and/or knowledge?

A really unexpected experience was that Covid19 broke out and shortly before that I resigned from my previous job. The knowledge and experience I gained was that anything is possible, even starting one’s own business and making the business go well under less than perfect circumstances. In addition I got the experience of running my own business, which requires familiarizing yourself with finances, strategy and how to market yourself in a good (authentic) way – to know your own value in time, energy and money, i.e. how much I should charge and which projects are worth my time.

Do you have any tips and advice for EHS students who are going into working life?

One tip for the students is that they should be ready to break new ground, the world is changing exponentially with digitalization. Don’t get stuck in the old, classic ways of working. My tip would be to dare to explore how one can work and contribute to a better world more than “just” applying to, for example, government authorities. Today, there are more and more companies looking for exactly the knowledge you possess. My belief is that those of us who have read and are reading MR and who want to make a difference through our work, need to think outside the box when it comes to how we can create positive change and justice for more people on earth. I knew, for example, that I should start my own business to create change faster. Change and development depend largely on our own inner journey and in order to develop the world outside ourselves we also need to dare to test new ways of working.