Sylvie Fraboulet-Jussila, Senior Environmental and Social Adviser
“I was born and raised in France, where I first studied environmental science and technology and then industrial risk management. Throughout my entire working career, I have, in fact, mainly dealt with risks and their management in different contexts.
After my studies, I followed my boyfriend to Finland. I came in the middle of the recession of the 1990s, and I could not immediately find work within my field. Fortunately, studying French was appealing for new EU citizens. I continued my studies on environmental management, this time in Finnish. Through an internship, I ended up at Pöyry, where I worked as an environmental consultant for nine years. I worked on different kinds of assignments in Finland and abroad, including many development cooperation projects, which sparked my interest for developing countries.
The pieces fell into place
In 2005, I saw in a job advertisement that Finnfund was looking for an environmental adviser. The pieces fell into place—this was the perfect position for me! In the consultancy world, you do not often get to follow projects from cradle to grave, but here, it’s one of the best aspects of my work.
I assess the level of environmental and social performance of potential project companies, and the impact the project has on the environment and people. Then, together with the project companies, we define how they can achieve the objectives and standards we have set, and we look jointly for solutions.
In addition to expertise, the work requires negotiation skills, briskness and the ability to manage a wide range of issues. One needs to understand the business environments of the project companies and the specific features and challenges in the countries of operation. Each project is different.
We share our knowledge with the colleagues
Initially, the management of environmental and industrial risks was my core area of expertise, but throughout the years, I have become interested in and built my knowledge of the social implications of business. Finnfund encourages education, and I have both attended trainings and organised in-house ones on corporate responsibility topics.
I was the first full time member of our team, but now we are five. We also share our knowledge with our colleagues employed by other development financiers, so you can always find new insights and experience. At the moment, my focus is on human rights.
A few years ago I led a two-year project at Sitra. As I returned to Finnfund, I brought with me many new ideas and thinking.
Responsibility is above all a matter of respect
Travelling to our target countries is an important part of my work. To be successful, it’s essential to get to talk with people de visu, face-to-face and see the projects’ locations. There, you see, feel and hear things that do not come up in reports, and you can discuss with representatives from the local stakeholders.
The work easily carries you away. You have to be analytical, good listener, creative and solution oriented. Experience is tremendously helpful.
To me, responsibility is above all a matter of respect. Respect for other people can be seen in working conditions, human rights issues, protection of the environment and biodiversity and in the fight against climate change. The most important thing is to try to avoid impacts that can harm others and our environment.”