Marianna Mertzanis is a member of the 5th EJWP group. She completed her second EJWP training week in Athens in November 2023, following the inaugural training week last September in Croatia. Marianna shared her views on EJWP activities, along with thoughts on today’s water sector, with Water News Europe.
What is your background?
“I’m half Greek/ half English and while I spent most of my childhood in Greece, I’ve spent the last 10 years in England and Spain! I studied an Integrated Master’s in Chemistry at the University of York in England, and a second Master’s in Inland Water Quality Assessment at the Autonomous University of Madrid in Spain.”
Who is your EJWP sponsor organization?
“My sponsor is an exciting company called Water150 by Longhouse Foundation whose aim is to secure abundant and safe drinking water for future generations. It does so by engaging local communities in sustainable water well management and by leveraging disruptive blockchain technology to ensure a decentralized, transparent and legitimate water industry.”
What value do you expect EJWP to bring to your organization, career or community?
“EJWP comes at an important time in my career, helping me develop as an individual. To my organization I can bring important and up-to-date knowledge concerning water matters through the EJWP Masterclasses. Regarding my career, it prepares me for a lifetime of collaboration through its 8 projects over a 2-year programme. And towards my community it will help me include all essential voices needed in taking important water decisions through EJWP’s Diversity and Intercultural Communication trainings.”
Were there takeaways from your first EJWP Training Week?
“During my first training week in Croatia, the most memorable moments were definitely going on a water-focused walking tour of Zagreb and to Krka National Park! As a general takeaway I would say the Personal Development Training taught me the value is self-reflection and self-awareness in becoming an effective leader. I was also truly impressed by the caliber of the other participants, and our different perspectives only made for a more interesting and dynamic group.”
What were highlights from activities in your second EJWP Training Week?
“I really enjoyed learning about communication styles for effective problem resolution, and techniques for more effective communication such as the ‘Listen, Summarise and Deepen’ method. Regarding the launch of the second project, it was great to reflect on our previous work in order to improve second time round. I’m also excited to utilise my background in chemistry!”
What are opportunities and challenges unique to young professionals in the water sector?
“Young professionals in the water sector are hard to attract and even harder to keep! Other sectors can seem more attractive and lucrative. There is a wide intergenerational gap within the sector, as well. An opportunity lies within that, though, which is that the new generations coming in can reach decision-making roles quickly and help to bring significant changes needed to modernize the water sector.”
What is a topic that you see as important now and in the future?
“I can’t help but think flooding issues will be on everyone’s mind. Horrific floodings are happening all over the world and this year saw destructive floods in Greece, the UK and Spain, devastating the local communities and the environment. These are all countries I have a strong connection with and floodings were never this frequent or as destructive. A possible way forward to this issue is reconsidering the impervious materials used in urban construction.”
What are your biggest challenges?
“My biggest challenges include a mix of time management and concentration. I love being involved in different things and keeping myself busy, so I need to ensure that I make time for everything that’s important to me, including EJWP! I’m slowly learning how to channel my focus a bit better and EJWP is also helping with that, too!”
What else would you like to say about your work and the human/young professional aspect?
“My career so far has been very eclectic! I’ve taught English as a foreign language; I’ve worked for startups and done some volunteering! I’ve learned that it’s okay not to always follow a linear career path. The uncertainty can be unsettling at times, but the wealth and diversity of experiences can only add to my character and to what I have to offer as a professional.”
Where and in which position would you like to be working in five years?
“I’d like to be in a position where I’m specializing in something that I feel passionate about. As I have previous experience in teaching, it would be great to integrate it into my work. I also like the idea of helping water companies or local governments become more transparent, and utilising new technologies to achieve that.”
View this article and other EJWP participants on the Water News Europe website.