Alumna Dr Tara Shirvani (Queens’ College, 2008) has been named one of this year’s UK Rising Stars in Science and Engineering.
I always knew that I wanted to work on projects with a low carbon agenda that have a real impact on the ground and aid the populations that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.Dr Tara Shirvani
WeAreTheCity’s Rising Star Awards focus on the UK’s female talent pipeline below management level and celebrate 100 females from across different industries and professions who represent the leaders and role models of tomorrow.
A past honouree of Forbes 30 Under 30, Tara has forged a successful career since graduating and is a known expert in green transport and infrastructure solutions, digital and artificial intelligence (AI) strategies for mobility, and Middle Eastern energy politics. The 31-year-old credits her Masters in Engineering from the University of Cambridge as having been “pivotal” in providing her with the valuable technical knowledge she required in order to gain understanding of large scale infrastructure needs.
We caught up with Tara to find out more.
Tara, how does it feel to have been named one of 2018’s Rising Stars in Science and Engineering?
We all know that feeling, it’s Monday morning and the first thing you want to do before you check your emails, answer phone calls or water your office plant is to get a good cup of coffee in you. But this particular Monday was different as I got woken up at 7am sharp with a call from the editor of the The Sunday Times, congratulating me on winning the ‘WeAreTheCity Top 100 Rising Talent Award’ in the category of Science and Engineering. As I received the call, I was frankly deeply humbled, shocked and euphoric all at the same time.
What did you enjoy most about your Cambridge Masters programme?
I always knew that I wanted to work on projects with a low carbon agenda that have a real impact on the ground and aid the populations that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development has been pivotal in providing me with the technical know-how and understanding of how to put large scale infrastructure needs into tangible project ideas. Plus the friendships that I was able to make across the MPhil course, and my time at Cambridge, have remained one of the closest and most meaningful in my life so far.
How has your career progressed since graduating?
I started my career working for the United Nations in Tehran followed by several investment banking experiences at Deutsche Bank and Citigroup. I currently work as Principal Sector Leader for Sustainable Transport at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London, where I’m in charge of greening an annual €4 billion infrastructure investment portfolio. Prior to this, I worked at the World Bank Group and was in charge of large scale infrastructure projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia. I earned my PhD in Fuel Technologies from the University of Oxford.
What is the best part of your job at EBRD?
At EBRD I liaise with international financial organisations and government agencies. I really enjoy seeing how the policy recommendations and suggestions that I make can have a real impact on the ground for the people most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This is echoed by having the opportunity to work in an international organisation with a diverse set of stakeholders, as well as client countries with different needs across the economic development curve.
What is your advice for those considering a career in engineering?
Just do it! The future of the STEM industry is richer and more promising than ever, especially as we are faced with the rising dawn of the digital revolution spurred by machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Connect with Tara on Twitter @Tara_Shi