A monthly exploration into the world of sustainability in the built environment with commentary and input from UCEM’s Vice Chancellor and academics.
How sustainability influences my work: Interview with alumnus Ayodeji Akinkuolie
Posted on: 14 April, 2023
📍 Doha, Qatar
Diploma in Surveying, MBA Construction & Real Estate – 2018
Ayodeji is a construction and real estate professional with over 30 years’ experience in the Middle East and Africa. His experience includes pre- and post-contract cost and contract management in various sectors of the construction industry including roads and infrastructure, sports, hospitality, commercial real estate, education, aviation and transport, health care, and oil and gas.
Ayo has been involved in construction projects, from commencement to successful completion, and this has provided him access to prime construction information and world class data that can be processed for strategic planning and management of new and existing developments that are sustainable.
What were your experiences of sustainability at UCEM?
“…it was great to learn that sustainability is about more than ‘just’ the environment, that it’s about social and economic responsibility as well as preserving the planet around us.”
My experiences of sustainability at UCEM began when I took part in Sustainability for Real Estate Investment back in August 2012, which was a short course facilitated by UCEM, or as it was then called, College of Estate Management.
Sustainability really came to the forefront for me during my MBA and it was through my modules that I learned what was working well, what was not, and practical ways of how we can change our practices for the better. For me it was great to learn that sustainability is about more than ‘just’ the environment, that it’s about social and economic responsibility as well as preserving the planet around us.
Having studied more than once at UCEM, I have seen sustainable changes made to institutional practices as well as in my learning. I remember when I first joined for my diploma, and I used to get box loads of books from the UK. Whereas when I came back and did my MBA I welcomed the opportunity to use a lot of ebooks which I still have access to today. Don’t get me wrong I love a good hardback book, but from a sustainability perspective I appreciated the progression to ebooks.
How do you incorporate sustainability into your job role and what do you hope to see happen in your sector?
I’ve always been interested in the little bits you can do as a human being and it has always struck me how we work and the things we have the power to change but don’t act upon.
I’m currently working on an airport project which involves building tank farms for jet fuel and although my role is not dedicated to sustainability, I use my voice to advocate for change and to incorporate sustainable considerations into our projects. Air travel will continue well into the future, as the benefits of globalisation for leisure and trade still remain. I would like to see the sector speed up its adaptation plans to make airports and associated transport more sustainable and decrease their noise and air pollution on local communities.
Where I come from, poverty is quite common. People still don’t quite understand why they need to preserve today so that they can live tomorrow. Where I live now in Qatar, we have different nationalities, and I find sometimes that thoughts and intentions can sometimes get lost in translation. Although this is difficult, it’s not impossible if you keep talking about it and I enjoy the challenge of finding what resonates with people with different backgrounds.
I hope that as my career progresses, I can continue to talk about it and hope to be part of building a solution and persuading people to invest.
What do you think UCEM needs to do next in relation to sustainability?
UCEM needs to keep up the good work. I know from my experiences that UCEM students are diverse in age and geographical location, which makes the institution’s role incredibly important when championing the sustainability agenda. They should continue to optimise and maximise their sphere of influence through its students, staff and alumni.
This could be done through providing more opportunities for alumni like myself to engage with UCEM around sustainability. It would be great to have those additional touchpoints where we could share local innovations, thoughts on current affairs and learn about UCEM’s sustainability developments.
Tell us about something that you have read or watched that inspires you to be more sustainable in your professional or personal life
I remember while on my course we were shown a video about a city in the UK which King Charles has adopted. I like the kind of things I see that people are trying to build. The sustainable cities, they’re trying to do it. I feel inspired every time I hear positive news stories about sustainability and sustainable development.
What climate actions do you take in your personal life?
I’m trying to get solar panels installed in my hometown because we’ve got lots of power issues back in Nigeria, such as the National Grid always collapsing, the rivers drying up and the dam not working.
Climate change is happening now, and governments and businesses need to be at the forefront of taking action. However, there are small things I like to do to be less wasteful.
I try to save as much energy and water as I can in my home by turning off the tap when I’m brushing my teeth and when I have to make prints for work I do them double sided. I try to follow the three principles of: reduce; reuse; and recycle as much as possible.