To celebrate the 125th anniversary of women getting the vote, School-gen is profiling some of our own Genesis women who are passionate about STEM. The bravery and leadership of the suffragettes paved the way for women to pursue a range of different career options, and science & technology is just one of these. This week, we profile environmental manager Karen Sky – who has a challenging role focused on our use of natural resources (land, air and water) as part of energy generation.

Hi Karen! What’s your role at Genesis? I am the Environmental Manager.

What does your job involve on a day to day basis? I manage the Environmental Team at Genesis. We are responsible, among other things, for environmental management at Genesis’ power generation sites across New Zealand. This includes managing compliance with our resource consent conditions and our relationships with tangata whenua, surrounding communities and stakeholders, and liaising with regulatory authorities and environmental policy makers. There are a wide range of environmental effects from energy generation, ranging from lake levels to river temperature to contaminants that can go into the air. My team is responsible for ensuring that these effects are appropriately managed. No two days are ever the same in my role. It could involve consultation meetings at one of our generation sites, liaising with central, regional or local government regarding environmental policy, contributing to Genesis’ Sustainability Framework, or attending a Whio Forever meeting with the Department of Conservation.

What did you study at school and/or university that prepared you for this role? I really enjoyed science throughout my high school years (in particular biology). I did a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences, followed by a Master of Science degree in Environmental Science, both at the University of Auckland. My Master’s degree prepared me really well for working in the field of environmental science in New Zealand and I had a great and inspirational thesis supervisor (Dr John Craig, who was instrumental in establishing Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf as an open conservation sanctuary).

What do you enjoy most about being a scientist? I like learning, analytical thinking and problem solving so science has definitely been the right career choice for me. There is always more to learn in this field!

Would you encourage kids to get into science and how? Of course! The best way to learn about science when you’re a kid is by doing fun experiments. My 8-year-old daughter is really into making slime at the moment. School-gen is great of course, and I also recommend the Nanogirl Live show to kids if they are really keen to see some fun science experiments live. I would encourage kids to be curious about the world and not be afraid to ask questions.