Water for People CEO Eleanor Allen explains why becoming a WEF member was one of the best choices of her career.
You have decided to become a water quality professional and are considering joining the Water Environment Federation. That’s a great move! Let me share with you why becoming a WEF member was one of the best choices of my career. Here are three lessons I have learned along the way that may be helpful to you on your professional journey:
- Be part of the WEF community. When I got my MS degree in Civil/Env. Engineering (a long time ago), one of my mentors recommended that I join the CWEA in the Bay Area, where I lived. It was great advice. In later years, I was active in the member associations in other places that I lived: Puerto Rico (PRWEA), Seattle (PNCWA), and Denver (RMWEA). Through these networks I found excellent professional development opportunities and grew my personal network. I still benefit from many of these relationships today for advice, idea sharing, and camaraderie.
- Take on leadership roles. WEF provides excellent opportunities to grow leadership skills. I took advantage of this when I founded and was an original co-chair of the PNCWA Odor and Air Quality Committee. This also led to my membership on the national WEF Air Quality and Safety Committee. This was my group of peers and colleagues and my go-to place as I worked on air quality challenges and odor control designs all over the world. For me, it was an invaluable community of practice.
- Influence others and make an impact. Being an active committee member and a practicing technologist in air quality/odor control, allowed me to also hone my writing and presentation skills by publishing papers and presenting at regional, specialty, and national technical conferences like WEFTEC®. This laid the foundation for what I do today.
As CEO of Water For People, I lead a global organization that is focused on developing sustainable water and sanitation services in Latin America, Africa, and India. Our mission includes helping the 4.5 billion people in the world without adequate sanitation get better services--from the toilet, to the treatment plant, to biosolids reuse products. The key message is that the world needs more water quality experts. Our future is bright. Exciting challenges lie before us and are aligned with achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6. Solving these complex problems is an extremely rewarding career (in my humble opinion) and helps improve the state of the world. We are so glad you are interested in being a part of the WEF team!