• Rebecca Cornelius

UvA Alumni Portrait: Associate at PwC - Lobke Jurrius


Lobke graduated in 2020 with a Bachelor’s in Future Planet Studies, alongside a minor in Marine Living Resources at Wageningen University. Later, in 2021, she obtained a Master’s in Environment and Resource Management at the VU while at the same time working as a Business Analyst for the GoGreen Program at DHL. Currently, working as an Associate Sustainability & Responsible Governance at PwC, one of the largest professional services networks providing assurance, advisory, and tax services.

In this interview, she explains to us her education choices, her career path along with some useful career advice, especially for those interested in sustainability. If you want to find out more, read the whole interview!





Chelsea (interviewer)

To start, could you introduce yourself, what you have done so far in terms of your career? What are your background and experience?


Lobke

I started with a Bachelor in Future Planets Studies. Along with the sustainability courses, you could choose a major along, which could be geography, social geography, biology, or economics. I majored in biology. So you do half of the sustainability courses and half of the other study and they merged into one Bachelor's.


This Bachelor's degree focuses on sustainability, which has always been an interest of mine but it is also very interdisciplinary, which I really appreciate through my whole studies and made me pursue a Master’s in Environments and Resource Management at the VU. That is a one-year master's degree and it's really interdisciplinary as well. There, you could also choose a track and I did the climate and energy track. There were people from different backgrounds such as economics, philosophy, but also from biology or human geography. It was a nice mix of people. So if you're still looking for Master's, I would recommend that one. In the meantime, during my time at the UvA, I also did a Marine biology minor and an exchange for half a year.


After my studies, I started working and now I'm working at PwC where they have a really rapidly growing sustainability team. They were looking for people with an interdisciplinary background who were motivated in helping smaller companies, but also bigger companies, to get on track on how they should approach sustainability.


Chelsea

Could you please talk to us about what your current job entails? What is a typical workday like?


Lobke

Everyday is different. Everyday you have all types of experiences and opportunities to get specialized in what you are interested in. You also learn so much from your colleagues. I’ve been working on more than eight projects so far and have learned so much through them.


The typical workday starts with a team discussion, where you make a plan for the project: What are we going to do today? How are we going to divide the tasks? Do we have to speak to clients today? When is that? So each day is very different which makes it very interesting.


Chelsea

PwC has three main service lines: assurance, advisory, and tax and as an Associate Sustainability & Responsible Governance in which of those service lines are, you focused on? Or are you contributing to all of them?


Lobke

Taxes seem to be, in my opinion, less of the focus of our team. I feel the main focus is rather on assurance and advisory. We work a lot together with other people from other service lines and so often it entails a mixture of all of them. However, there is still a lot to perfectionalise in the team structure, in regards to how we can best help clients with our knowledge and skills. In other words, we are still looking for the right team structure.



Career Questions

Rebecca (interviewer)

Have you always been interested in being a part of the climate movement? How did you become interested in sustainability?


Lobke

When I started studying, I didn't know what I wanted to do, so I thought about all kinds of Bachelors that I could be doing.


The Future Planet studies really spoke to me because it was a very broad and interdisciplinary study. It is also what I enjoy about sustainability, a lot about working together with people from different disciplines as I believe you cannot tackle issues related to sustainability with just one discipline. In other words, you cannot tackle it from just an economic perspective or political perspective.


Studying something related to sustainability helps students recognize that we can have an impact on sustainability.


Rebecca

How did the University of Amsterdam help you in your career path?


Lobke

I think UvA is very helpful in that the university is very enthusiastic with students taking on more minors, partaking in exchanges, or taking on different courses from different study lines.


Additionally, they offer a lot of career days or career exploratory events which helps a lot in eventually choosing your career path. With my Bachelor’s study, we had many people coming to speak about their career which gives you ideas as to what you could do after your studies. Therefore, I really recommend attending these career days.


Chelsea

After your Bachelor's at UvA, why not pursue a career as a scientist or researcher? Instead

you chose to go into a more business-related career?


Lobke

That was actually a very difficult choice to make for me. However, it came down to the fact that I enjoy tackling problems in an interdisciplinary way, in other words, I enjoy the bridge between science and society. I really enjoyed asking myself questions such as how do you make policy around sustainability? Or what is the economics of sustainability? That’s the reason why I chose an interdisciplinary Master's and this career path.


In regards to PwC, I would have never thought that I would end up working here since I wasn’t very attracted to the corporate lifestyle and I did not have an economics or finance background. But I very much enjoy working for PwC.



Job-specific Questions

Chelsea

Why PwC? Is there a specific reason for choosing this company?


Lobke

What really attracted me to PwC is that it is a recognized firm and that they offer training opportunities. PwC has the capacity to offer courses or events. PwC really invests time and money in employees to get more out of just working. So, in that way you are developing yourself further whilst working.


I also really enjoy the sustainability team, the atmosphere, and the motivation of the people to have an impact. I think PwC is a great workplace to actually make an impact and is closely connected to the companies that are trying to become more sustainable.


Rebecca

How do you think PwC is helping in making the world more sustainable?


Lobke

Yes! I think it's very important for companies to report their missions and set goals for themselves to become more sustainable. The laws and regulations in the EU and US are getting stricter and stricter.


This is where our team comes in. Since we have the knowledge about the obligations that companies will have in the future, we can really help companies set realistic, but also ambitious targets, and give them the confidence that they can actually reach these goals.


For a lot of companies, it's really difficult to become more sustainable since their business model might not be the most flexible. There are many ways to make the world more sustainable but helping companies in a constructive way to make them more sustainable is one of them.


Rebecca

Do you see that the sustainable advice that you give has an impact?


Lobke

What I really like about our team is that, although you're a new joiner, people really listen to you and what you have to say. Many people have many different backgrounds, and thus people are really interested to learn from one another. Also, even though you might be talking with someone, who has been here for 20 years, they are really eager to hear what you have to say. I do think with my background and with my experiences, I can actually have an impact. I feel like I am effectively contributing to the mission of making the world more sustainable.



Rebecca

What is the most challenging aspect of your job? Or what kind of new challenges have you had to face by being an associate?


Lobke

Getting in contact with companies in sectors that you're not accustomed to working in is a challenge for me. For example, sometimes I work on projects from the financial sector even though my background is really not in finance. Although I mostly consider this to be a positive challenge, you still have to learn a lot about how these sectors operate and what their ambitions for the companies are. Also, sometimes one is overloaded with a lot of information which can be challenging to handle at times.




Opinions and Advice

Chelsea

What advice would you give to students that want to have an impact in terms of sustainability and don't know where to start or what to do next?


Lobke

Do something that you really like! If you work on something you like, you will be motivated to work every day and thus it will be a lot easier to actually make a change in the world.


On the other hand, it is also important to not forget that there are a lot of ways in which you can help the world become a more sustainable place. Sustainability can be found everywhere and it, therefore, does not limit you to a specific job title. All kinds of jobs can be related to sustainability, whether you are making policy, or you are a mathematician. You are building the bridge between stakeholders, which is exactly what sustainability is about.


Chelsea

Are there any UvA courses or anything that you suggest taking if one is interested in doing something related to sustainability in the future?


Lobke

I would definitely recommend taking part in the SDG challenge. You get to be in a team of five students from the same university and then you are matched to a company with which you part in a project.


More specifically, the company asks the team how they can, for instance, reduce their packaging by 50%. You are then asked to take part in a sustainability consultancy project with the other students assigned to that company. It is a big competition between groups of students hence students learn how to pitch ideas and how companies operate internally.


Chelsea

Do you think business, economics, law students (i.e. non-scientific) can also land a sustainability position, or is it more for those having a scientific bachelor like you?


Lobke

Absolutely, 100%. Sustainability is very interdisciplinary and even in my team there are people with all types of university degrees, but not only university graduates, non-university graduates as well are important and useful.


Chelsea

What advice would you give to students that want to join a prestigious company such as PwC?


Lobke

Be open-minded, talk to employees working at these companies, and how they approach the application process. Look at job positions online, how they describe the type of person that they're looking for, and see if that really suits you. This includes forming experience through any type of internships including, for instance, working at supermarkets.



Closing Question

Rebecca

Is there anything else that you would like to tell us and other students? Or ask of us?


Lobke

Don't put too much pressure on yourself. Take your time to find out what you like to do. That can be through internships, student jobs, or projects like the SDG challenge. So I suggest students look around at different places and don't feel pressured to do anything that society wants them to do.


One of the problems that I see within student societies nowadays is that you have a lot of pressure to constantly achieve. But if you do what you like, you’ll be fine.






The Alumni Portraits Team would like to thank Lobke for her time and valuable insights.

by Alumni Portraits team (Rebecca Cornelius and Chelsea Guidi).



Chelsea


Rebecca

92 views0 comments