Name: Daniela Brandao
Year of graduation: 1999
Option Track: Water/Wastewater
Current Job/Company: Senior Project Manager, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (December 2018 – present)
Past Job/Company: Senior Project Manager, Global Sales Manager, Client Service Manager at CH2M/Jacobs (Jan 2003 – December 2018). Project Engineer, Econergy International (May 1999 – December 2002)
What was it like to be the first graduate from the Environmental Engineering program at CU Boulder?
Incredibly exciting! I had a promising career ahead, with so many interesting opportunities.
How did your Environmental Engineering degree helped achieve your professional goals?
The Environmental Engineering degree provided me with a solid foundation for more learning and problem solving – critical for professional growth and development to occur. In other words, it promoted a learning mindset and it equipped me with the technical and interpersonal capabilities to adjust and tackle new and exceptional challenges in the environmental field.
What types of research, academic, and/or extracurricular activities did you participate in at CU Boulder that helped you to succeed?
I did my research on Soil Aquifer Treatment for water reuse applications. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with local and out of state water agencies to explore and help advance the concept further. I continued to be inspired by the One Water concept and the value of water.
What advice do you have for current students to make the most of their time in school?
Take advantage of the opportunities. Engage with intention, explore new ideas (think differently), and most importantly, connect with people. Then find a bigger cause or what drives you (vs aiming for a specific job). It takes a group of inspired people with different backgrounds, skill sets, and experiences for disruption to occur. We need more of that to build a better world.
Tell us more about what you did while working for ECONERGY and CH2M.
At Econergy I worked on a variety of renewable energy, energy efficiency and carbon emissions management projects, in the US and overseas. Since it was a relatively small firm I got exposed to all sides of the business, from business development to project engineering and client services.
At CH2M/Jacobs I had the privilege to work with globally recognized experts in the water industry, who were committed to developing innovated solutions to create a more sustainable world. With every single project that was an opportunity to learn and accomplish something unique. During that period in my career I also recognized the importance of giving back. I volunteered with Water For People, an international nonprofit organization that promotes the development of safe, high-quality drinking water and sanitation services that are sustained by their communities, so those services will last for generations to come.
As someone who has worked in both the private and public sectors, what recommendations do you have for students seeking first-time jobs?
I recommend the path that allows you to 1. Do what you are passionate about (what drives you) and 2. That allows you to focus on the long-term impact of the work you do (vs short term gains).
What do you currently do at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission?
I serve as a Senior Project Manager in the Infrastructure division of the SFPUC. The SFPUC provides water, wastewater and power services to the City and County of San Francisco. We serve about 3 million customers. I am currently the Deputy Project Manager for the Biosolids Digester Facilities Project, the largest project being implemented under the Sewer System Improvement Program The Biosolids is a $1.7 billion project that will replace the entire solids processing facilities at the South East Plant, where 80 percent of the City’s wastewater is treated. The project has been developed to address aging infrastructure, seismic vulnerability and odors as well as other operating challenges. The project will transform the plant into a modern resource recovery facility, a proud neighborhood asset, and will allow us to meet our Level of Services goals of 100% biogas and biosolids utilization.
Why do you think students should seek a degree in Environmental Engineering today?
We need to reinvent tomorrow. We need to think differently and develop environmentally sustainable solutions to meet our human needs. I couldn’t think of a better way to start.
Do you wish to share your contact info for students or graduates looking to network?
Yes. Here is my email address.
March 10th, 2020