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Luisa Da Silva: Finding her tribe at Warwick and saving the planet

Luisa Da Silva (Executive MBA (London), 2019) is the Executive Director of Iron+ Earth, a worker-led organisation based in Canada that sits at the intersection of energy, environmentalism, and thought leadership.

Iron + Earth was set up to empower the energy sector and indigenous workers to recognise and transfer their skills to the renewable sector to help tackle the climate crisis. Read Luisa’s captivating story about life as an international student and her advice for students and alumni alike who share her passion for saving the planet.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Warwick?

I loved being part of this super talented, inspired, and motivated community, and coming together every other weekend with this amazing, diverse group of people in this petri dish of learning. Despite coming from our own industries, we had the exact same problems but were just looking at them from different perspectives within our own niche environments. The culture at Warwick meant there was no competition between students, no space for facades but rather we were working collectively towards this common, rich learning and we wanted to do better for ourselves.

Why Warwick?

Warwick’s culture really fitted my personality. If you are willing to try a lot of things and throw yourself out there, you’re going to come out stronger and with a lot more skills. The Careers team at the Open Day gave a fascinating insight into managing different personality types in the workplace. That moment really opened my eyes to what I could gain from a Warwick education. I’d looked at lots of schools but WBS’ reputation for Distance Learning has been world leading for several years. The alumni I spoke to were ambitious, passionate about their time at Warwick, and most importantly for me they demonstrated the drive to advance themselves and their careers. I had found my tribe.

Can you tell us a little more about Iron + Earth?

Our mission is to empower fossil fuel workers and indigenous workers to create and implement climate solutions. We’re the only organisation like this in Canada that is integrating indigenous cultural learnings into our training courses and providing these free of charge to fossil fuel workers. We do that by creating opportunities for these people to move into energy roles within the energy sector but, vitally, away from the fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuels will always have a place in society; we just don’t need to be burning them as our primary energy source.

"Fossil fuels will always have a place in society; we just don’t need to be burning them as our primary energy source."

We show people how their skills can transition into new sectors, such as renewable energy, through our Renewable Skills Programme. We educate people about climate change and suggest solutions for some of the simpler solutions to tackling climate change, such as taking over brownfield sites and building renewable energy sources there, such as solar farms.

What would you say to a student or recent graduate who is thinking of following a similar career path to you?

Follow your interests. Combining your passions with your career is a great way to achieve happiness. That passion will always shine through when you’re looking for jobs; I know this as an employer who looks for passion and dedication above anything else when recruiting new staff. Be willing to learn continuously as this will enrich your future.

"Be willing to learn continuously as this will enrich your future."

What advice would you give to other international students who are thinking about studying at Warwick?

You won’t regret it. Warwick is an inclusive environment that will feel like your second home. Everything that I wanted was there and I felt so welcome and wanted. It’s a fantastic community that challenges you to learn both in the classroom and grow in yourself.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to see Iron + Earth grow, flourish, and be a beacon of success that inspires similar organisations. I also have a mandate to provide opportunities for possible workers in the sector, as well as interns and students who share our values and have potential to make positive change in our field. Ultimately, I want to be someone who empowers others to be the best version of themselves and shows them how amazing and strong they are so that they can change the world.