Born in a southern city of Russia, I grew up surrounded with a history of past wars, agricultural lands and factories. While the city had been ruthlessly throwing chemicals in the air and water, each year I was looking forward to summer months of blooming landscapes and clear starry skies of Russian countryside.

I was a curious child who always had too many interests. Deciding on a career path was not easy, and by the time I was graduated from high school, I was torn between design, languages and math. At the end, languages took over, and this choice happened to open new doors for me and lead to new opportunities. After three years of studying linguistics and intercultural communication, I changed my major and started my path towards becoming a designer.

I got my undergraduate degree in Interior Design from Louisiana Tech University in the US. The school, with wonderful mentors and talented classmates, opened my eyes towards both creative and technical sides of design. It was during those four years that I became interested in sustainability and environmental issues. After becoming truly a southern girl and learning how to make gumbo and jambalaya, I decided to explore the East coast and set my mind on living in a big city. Philadelphia University was a perfect match to my plans and a growing interest in sustainable design. So, I enrolled in M.S. of Sustainable Design in Philadelphia University and started working there as a research assistant for the program director Robert Fleming, the author of the book ‘Design Education for a Sustainable Future’.

I ended up finishing my masters degree on another continent, at Aalto University in a program Creative Sustainability. Here in Finland I started realizing all the complexity of sustainability problems, and the nature of multidisciplinary approach to finding solutions. For working in the area of sustainability it was no longer enough to specialize in only one field, it required stamina to continuously learn new things and explore the unknown. That is why when an internship opportunity at Natural Interest consultancy came along, I took it as a long-waited challenge. Learning about paint, user experience and waste management during my trainee period in Natural Interest, I met the most inspiring people, who became not only my colleagues, but best friends and a real support network. My colleagues have been with me through some turbulent times in life, being the rock that I needed the most.

Through the past two years countless cups of coffee have been drank, inspiring sustainability ideas have been not only debated, but also implemented, new grounds have been explored and partnerships made, and the baby was born! Through my thesis writing I was happily accompanied by my soon-to-be-born son Aleksi, whose joyful kicks in my bouncy belly entertained everyone at the meetings.

Being back to the office after maternity leave I have been enjoying working with strategic life cycle analysis, user experience and recent office renovations. Life has been a joy, never dull and always full of surprises.

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