UEP Sustainability Internship Profile: Ayesha Syed

This summer, I interned with Ernst & Young (EY) in the United Arab Emirates. EY is one of four of the largest professional service networks globally. The Big 4 firms, which include Deloitte, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and EY, are best known for audit, accounting, strategy, and consulting. While traditionally known for their financial services, the Big 4 have invested heavily in management consulting, recognizing the need for nonfinancial performance measures in business. EY’s Climate Change and Sustainability Services (CCaSS) offers consulting and assurance opportunities to companies to help better understand and evaluate the risks and opportunities resulting from climate change. The CCaSS service line specializes in a wide array of consulting, including climate risk, decarbonization, ESG, and sustainability. In 2022, Ernst and Young were ranked #1 by Sustainability Magazine in the top 10 leading sustainability consultancies worldwide! 

During my time at EY, I worked on a variety of different projects. The main engagement I was assigned to involved working on developing a carbon market scheme for Saudi Arabia. This national carbon market project was publicly announced at COP27 in November. This scheme is one of many commitments towards the Middle East Green Initiative. 

A large part of my work included conducting significant research on existing voluntary carbon markets worldwide. Most notably, I studied the Gold Standard, Verra, CDM, GCC, and ACR. I then had to be able to creatively visualize and present my research and data by creating presentations, flowcharts, and diagrams. My engagement team was made up of consultants working from around the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. I would collaborate with them daily on achieving weekly KPIs, participate in internal meetings with the managers and partners assigned to the engagement, and attend several meetings with our client.

The personal motivation behind why I chose to complete my internship in the United Arab Emirates is that I truly value international experience. The ability to adapt to different environments, being able to connect with people from different cultures, and becoming comfortable with the unknown are skills I want to continuously develop throughout my professional, academic, and personal life. Tackling climate change is a global issue, and it is important to understand the macroeconomic and global political aspects associated with this topic. It is also fascinating to learn how different countries are approaching this problem, i.e., what they are prioritizing, where they are investing, who is involved, etc.

Another reason why I was drawn to working in the Middle East is the huge potential for transformation. It is such an exciting time to be a part of this field, and the organizational growth and technological innovation are continuously developing. It is fascinating to witness how much oil-rich and fossil fuel-dependent states are beginning to invest in green technology. It is inspiring to see this massive shift in mindset and the progression toward a more sustainable future. 

During the span of my internship, I was able to gain so much experience and knowledge in the world of consulting. It has been an incredibly enriching and insightful opportunity to work with one of the leading sustainability consultancies in the world, working on large-scale, transformative projects that have helped both public and private entities take the necessary step toward a greener future.

My experiences in the MS in sustainability program have taught me how to create impactful change in the field. I was able to successfully leverage the knowledge gained from my classes. Systems Thinking provided a thorough overview of sustainability, Field Projects developed my client-facing skills, and Sustainability Metrics provided a robust understanding of tracking and measuring sustainability targets. I am excited to apply the skills I gained during my academic experiences as I transition into the professional field of sustainability.

1 thought on “UEP Sustainability Internship Profile: Ayesha Syed”

  1. I really appreciate a dynamic woman like Ayesha, she is the moment and carries so much intention with the work she commits to. Im excited to see what the future holds for her.

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