In conversation with Elena Doms
June 7, 2023

In conversation with Elena Doms

From Passionate Professional to Climate Leader

Elena Doms has always been interested in working in sustainability, and after 11 years at Mastercard made the leap to start a career in the field. Her postgraduate studies in Energy and Climate taught her the basics of environmentalism and the social barriers and opportunities for change, and with a push on social media and networking, Elena soon saw her career in sustainability flourish.

Struggling to start

Positioning yourself in the sustainability space is challenging. Even after specialising in the topic with a highly credible degree, Elena struggled to start her career in sustainability. She now works on various environmental projects and is a well-known name in the space, and after reflecting on how she got here, she wants to help others do the same.

A journey towards Director & Sustainability Lead and Climate Startup Advisor

You can hear all about her journey into sustainability, and learn more about how the course is designed to get into sustainability in 2 weeks by watching our interview with her, or reading the highlights below. Her course is available to sign up to here, or scroll to the end of the blog to see the course modules.

When did your interest in sustainability begin, and how did you weave this into your professional life?

It was a long exploratory journey. I first got into sustainability at university, Firstly I joined the student organisation ISAC that focused on leadership and social impact. The second one was my thesis where I wrote about the impact of multinational corporations and human rights and I was looking into a new model of not just direct impact but economic impact through market monopolisation and controlling prices. This is when I had my home-moment I thought I really want to work in sustainability - that would be my dream job. 

Then after university I was really lucky to join MasterCard working on business development and sales and it was a fantastic experience. I loved the company and spent 11 years there. But every time at the back of my head there was something there telling me, you know, you have to at some point transition to sustainability. It’s a wonderful company, [I] loved the company, [my] colleagues, [I] loved the atmosphere. But I wanted to work on sustainability - I felt like it was something I had to do. 

But I always had that feeling that I wasn’t really worthy enough or good enough, or that I was missing something. I tried to send a couple of CVs, never got any responses, tried to talk to a couple of people outside of the company who were sustainability professionals for their advice. But there was always this lack of confidence inside me and I was always thinking I still need something else.

And then I had my kids and the urgency of action started popping up in my head I thought I want to make sure that they have a good future. I have to do something now. I really have to transition. And so I decided to get a degree in energy and climate to have the background degree helped me get the background from biology, from social sciences, of how climate change is so difficult to deal with and how it is a societal issue. There was also thermodynamics, economics and all kinds of disciplines that brought it all together and gave me a very good background to help me understand what are the good sustainability initiatives, what are the ones that maybe won’t bring as much value, and more importantly what is the science telling us - what do we need to do, how quickly, and what are the steps that will make the most difference. 

And from that moment I was more upset. But I said at least I have a background, now I have to make a professional leap into sustainability, And that’s when it all started changing at MasterCard; I started reaching out to people, doing a lot of projects on sustainability first on top of my job. But then I knew I needed to make that jump, time is running out and is not on our hands we have to act quickly. 

It seems that you’re starting a course on WONDR that’s all about helping people to break into sustainability. What have your experiences taught you about the importance of impact spaces?

I was thinking about this area because a lot of questions I was getting from students and people working in different companies all asked me “I really want to work in sustainability. Can you help me can you give me advice what do I need to do to get into this space”. And that really resonated with me because I was like that too, I was waiting for years to get in this space. For years I was doubting myself, trying to get a response. And I thought, but I’m smart! I have the degrees. I know I can do it, I know I’m fantastic at my job and I know I can be fantastic in any job. But why is it not working? Why can I not just progress and get into this space? I also saw a lot of other people getting into the space and I thought why can’t I do it? I know I can but something is just not working out. 

And then I started doing a lot of things and I have made it into the space and now looking back at the progress that I have made I want to share the things that I have done. How to build a network in sustainability, how to emerge in the space, how to get nto the opportunities right away, how to build these CVs and how to position yourself in sustainability. Because I know that it is a pain for a lot of people. 

Apparently 70% according to research are concerned that climate change will impact us personally and they want to do something about it. On the other hand we have the notion of climate quitting and people not accepting jobs or leaving jobs. Apparently ⅕ of people would not accept a job offer from a company that has a low ESG score. For me this shows that we are the time and space where we have hundreds of thousands off people that want to do something. 

But they’re all feeling “I’m not worthy enough, I dont know how to get into this space” I want to help them. I want to give them the instruments that helped me to emerge in the space and make sure that instead of doubting themselves and instead of waiting they're actually making positive impact. For me thats my main driver I want to feel like I am doing something worthy- like im really working on the future for our children for the future for us. And I’m sure a lot of people are feeling that way and I want to help them because I understand how painful it can be to have this feeling inside of you, the feeling where you want to do something but you just don’t know how. 

So for me the goal of this course is to first of all break those barriers where people feel like something is missing which is stopping them to to start acting. Second of all get really practical instruments on what to do right now and how to start get into this space. 

What’s are some projects you’re really proud of working on? 

I was a core project manager at MasterCard on a project for the future of sustainability of products and services. And that was a very interesting exercise of looking into where the company is now and the direction that it should take in terms of sustainability. I was lucky that MasterCard was at the forefront. It's in sustainability and also in a social piece of it and diversity and inclusion. And I was lucky that the company was looking into that direction, investing into that direction and seeing how not only just can they decarbonize themselves, but how they can work with a whole partner ecosystem to bring change. For me, that was extremely powerful one because I got to connect with a lot of people inside the company also got to think a lot outside of the box in terms of what is to come. And that's something that I was very fortunate to work on. 

And the second project that I'm starting to work with only right now, but I think it's amazing, it's probably I was not that sure in any idea before in my life, and is the project on cleaning soils globally and enabling circular economy. So we are building something similar to the ocean cleanup, but for soils, I didn't know how extremely important the soil pollution was just in Europe, there are over 100,000 hotspots for just before us. But you have, you know oil spills, you have heavy metals, and all of that goes into soils goes into the food that we eat and impacts our health. In fact over 3 billion people globally already affected by poor soils. 

And I've met someone through LinkedIn, who is extremely passionate about solving this through nature, cleans soil pollution through plants, and then uses the safe parts of the plants for bio based circular economy. And the whole process is also climate positive because it absorbs co2, it sucks more co2 than it emits. And now we are taking the solution globally want to clean soils globally, on that enormous scale. And that is something that I'm extremely passionate and excited and proud to be working on.

How has networking helped you to get to the space you’re in now?

Im a very big fan of networking and coming from an introvert thats a big revelation, I think connections are everything and that will be the environment that we will want to create for people to help with climate action. The results that we get, they very much depend on our surroundings. And if you're in a completely different surrounding and are trying to get into sustainability, it will be very hard. 

It was like me at the beginning, trying to send out to these will having some background on social sustainability and working in a global non government organization but working at MasterCard at the moment and trying to get in the area. Without educational degree or without a lot of experience. So to get there faster, we kind of need to put ourselves in the environment of sustainability and the environment of serendipity. 

And that means connecting to a lot of people in sustainability area and seeing what they're doing, getting inspired learning about their projects, posting maybe content, getting into social media to kind of spread the message, spread awareness and build those connections. Because the more you commit, communicate, the more you get people reacting, and the more you build those connections, and also going out there and trying things, right, trying to different projects to figure out what you like to meet, once again, you people to see that there is movement, and there is a lot of happening. So we can be somewhere stuck trying to get into the surrounding, or we can bring the surrounding to us to make sure that we foster we progress. 

How will your course help others get into the sustainability space?

I'm going to help others also to look into that to where they where they want to go to, I want people in the course to start acting right away, this will not be a theoretical knowledge thing. I will of course, at some components on climate change, and what to read and unsustainability. In general, I will try to help as much with my knowledge as I can. But the goal of the course is also to give very much practical exercises and tips start doing right away to build a city to build experience and sustainability to build a network, I want people to get into that right away during the course already. So that they have the support of me they have the support of the group. And they have concrete and clear, very simple steps to take to get there.

What one or two things would you like learners of this course to leave with?

Empowerment - very often the lack of empowerment blocks us from action. I want learners to have the empowerment to act to know that the steps are that they need to take. 

Secondly I want them to leave with progress, so there will be a lot of practical exercises. I want learners to leave the course with a feeling that they are moving towards where they want to be. That will release a lot of feelings of frustration and put the energy in a more positive direction. 


If you’re interested in getting into sustainability, Elena’s course is a perfect, practical and quick solution to get your career in sustainability kickstarted. Learn more about the latest, most important topics around climate change, understand how you can emerge into the space through the right networking and social media skills and meet others doing the same.

Sign up to her course “Get into sustainability in 2 weeks” here, or read more about it below. 

Course Modules

Module 1: Online lesson on Building your vision for sustainability:

  • Why and how to do that
  • Who to look out to
  • Ways to achieve it

Practical task: Setting the craziest goal you can ever imagine

Module 2: Online lesson on Studying climate change:

  • Why and which areas are important
  • Foundational programs at universities
  • Key resources for forever-learning, incl. news, legislation, policy and social trends

Live session: Climate change & what needs to be done by companies, governments and individuals. Master class on storytelling and communicating with influence.

Practical task: Building your learning plan & schedule

Module 3: Online lesson on Building connections:

  • Why networking is important
  • Who to reach out to
  • How to do that

VIP Live session with a special guest 

Practical task: Connecting with your target audience and scheduling first calls

Module 4: Online lesson on getting Practical Experience in Sustainability:

  • Why practical experience is important
  • How to repackage experience you already have
  • Where to get new experience and how
  • Starting right now

Practical task: Selecting options in line with your goal & reaching out to people/organisations to get them

Module 5: Online lesson on Actionable plan:

  • The importance of small steps
  • What to do every day to get to your goal
  • How to keep yourself motivated

Practical task: Building action plan & acting on it

Live session with a special guest

Module 6: A special bonus session on Positioning Yourself:

  • How to write kick-ass CV and LinkedIn profile
  • How to build audience on LinkedIn

Practical task: Adapting your CV and LinkedIn

VIP Live session on Kick-Ass Personal Branding

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