WRA Celebrates International Women’s Day 2021

Women comprise a large part of WRA’s staff and are vital contributors to the work we do as a company. WRA appreciates the leadership and contributions of our team!

International Women’s Day is Monday, March 8th, 2021. This year’s theme is #ChoosetoChallenge, with an emphasis on ‘from challenge comes change’ and choosing challenge. 

“Women challenge the status quo because we are never it.”

Cindy Gallop

To honor the movement, we asked female colleagues from various departments and levels within the company whose individual actions make a difference for the environment and their community. Read on about their inspiring career paths and words of wisdom for the next generation of women leaders in the environmental industry.

Conservation Finance Manager, Jane Rice, backpacking in Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado .

What are you passionate about and how does that impact your role at WRA?

Jane: I’m passionate about spending time in nature and truly valuing the natural world. Through my role at WRA, I help others recognize and appropriately value natural ecosystems and the services they provide. This work takes the form of wetland mitigation and species banking, carbon crediting and watershed resiliency projects that quantify and monetize environmental benefits.    

What is a significant step you took to building your career?

Jane: For my summer internship during grad school I chose to conduct surveys in rural Mexico (to evaluate their national payments for ecosystem services program) instead of taking a more conventional position with a government agency, consulting company or nonprofit, like the vast majority of my peers. Although this choice did not give me new connections or the promise of a job after grad school, it did give me an invaluable perspective on payments for ecosystem services and a life changing experience. Ultimately, this unique experience and my enthusiasm for what I had learned did play a large role in helping me land my first job out of school.

Restoration Engineer, Audriana Ossenberg, enjoying a hike in Marin County, CA,
where she is currently a project manager.

Describe a challenging career moment as a woman in the industry?

Audriana: Having to oversee an all male construction crew where the superintendent didn’t follow my instructions or have respect for me as the project engineer. It was a constant struggle to ensure they were installing my design correctly on top of battling daily sexist/derogatory comments. I learned a lot during that project about trusting my engineering knowledge and instincts as well as using my supervisor and team as a support system.

Who or what is most inspiring to you?

Audriana: My grandparents and mother who immigrated to the United States from Argentina. They moved to a new country without even knowing the language, but through hard work and intuition were able to thrive. I will always be grateful to them (and my father) for their hard work, which made my life and career possible.  

What advice would you give to women who want to begin their own career in this industry?

Audriana: I would tell them to go for it! It is a growing, exciting industry where they will cross paths with some awesome people. I have worked on some truly interesting and rewarding projects that I am proud to have been a part of. 

Compliance Monitoring Team Lead, Marisa Ishimatsu, supports our clients to protect natural resources including this Pacific gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer catenifer).

What has been the most exciting or rewarding moment in your career?

Marisa: I especially enjoy mentoring aspiring young biologists. I regularly communicate with my junior biologists to make sure they feel supported and are getting the training they need. I am regularly hiring project-based biologists, and I give all applicants some relevant career advice, even if I don’t currently have a position for them. I find taking this little extra step is appreciated and I find it very rewarding. 

Did you imagine this would be your career? If not, what did you see yourself doing as a career?

Marisa: I never knew what I wanted to do for a career, though for most of my adolescence I wanted to be a high school biology teacher.  I initially wanted to go to grad school, but didn’t want to go into academia. I was a field biologist all over the country for a few years and that turned into construction monitoring. I just kept following the meandering path my life was taking and I ended up as a staff biologist.

Vice President of People Operations, Pema Lin, embraces working remotely,
with her office mate Chewie.

How do you advocate for women at work or in our industry?

Pema: One thing that I love to do is to coach people and women in particular. As a matter of fact, at the time of publishing this, I will be certified as an integral coach. I truly believe the best way to advocate for women is to listen deeply, ask questions to clarify their values, and to allow them to speak aloud their needs, their aspirations, and their truths. I try to do this in just about every interaction that I have.

What female played an important role in shaping your career (female mentors, family members, etc.)?

Pema: I am so fortunate to have had many incredible women play a role in shaping my career that it’s hard to single one out. There is my dear friend and mentor Jennifer who I met at a brunch in Richmond, VA who helped me to land my first job as a recruiting coordinator at a recruitment consulting firm. She advocated for me and mentored me in my earliest days as a recruiter, whispering advice through the cubicle walls while I was on my first phone screen conversations with candidates. She later moved to San Francisco, calling me every month, imploring me to move here for the incredible opportunities in the tech industry. She has given me great advice, introduced me to influential people in the recruiting and HR community (all over the world), and continues to bolster me with unwavering love and encouragement. When my confidence is shaken, I can always count on her to remind me of who I am.

On behalf of all of us at WRA, happy International Women’s Day! We are proud to be an equal opportunity employer and prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion in all of our recruiting and cultural efforts. Want to join the team? Click here to view open positions at each of our offices. Revisit our 2020 blog here.