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Winner Spotlight | Mandhy Senewiratne CEnv, 2020 Environmental Professional of the Year

On World Environment Day 2020, Chartered Environmentalist, Mandhy Senewiratne, was announced as one of two winners of the prestigious 2020 Environmental Professional of the Year Award.

Mandhy is Director at Fyrefly Global Sustainability Ltd, registered as a Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) via the Institute of Water and a Chartered Water and Environment Manager (C.WEM). With over 15 years’ experience, she has a proven track record in delivering projects with long term sustainable benefits for the water and construction industries.

Chair of the judging panel, Dougal Driver CEnv said: “Inspirational environmental professionals are needed to drive change and to really engage with networks, peers and the public – Mandhy fits firmly into this category. Her personal commitment goes above and beyond due to the clear passion shown for her work.”

Learning of the news, Mandhy reacted as follows: “Thank you so much! Firstly, I was delighted to be nominated at all. To then be a finalist amongst such prominent environmental leaders is something else, but to win!? I’m speechless.” For those who don’t know Mandhy, she is rarely lacking in words…

Mandhy forged an initially unplanned career in environmental consulting, focusing her work on the water sector. She progressed her work with Anglian Water, Halcrow and MWH Global before creating her own consultancy, Fyrefly Global Sustainability Ltd, in 2017.

Alongside her work, Mandhy is a valuable volunteer member at the Institute of Water, dedicating her time to developing the sector for over a decade, including roles as a mentor and a CEnv and REnvTech assessor.

The nomination received stated: “She develops and delivers fully interactive courses ranging from Emerging Pollutants to Communication for Sustainability, both in-person and on-line.

Alongside her duties as a Consultant, her enigmatic interpersonal skills have allowed to fulfil her obligations to society as:

  • Mad Scientist, Mad Mandhy teaching “Mad Science” to 3 – 11 year olds, moulding the next generation of eco-warriors
  • The Plastic Princess, her yellow polyester adorned persona that humorously challenges societies’ reliance on single-use plastic with aid of her accomplice the “Poo-stick”.”

Delighted by Mandhy’s passion for engagement with multiple audiences, Chief Executive of the Society, Dr Emma Wilcox, said: “Mandhy is making so many positive things happen – from the bottom up to some extent – and her level of personal commitment is second to none. Her passion for developing the next generation of environmental professionals is inspiring with innovative engagement methods linking across all of her work. A very worthy winner of Environmental Professional of the Year 2020.”

Mandhy’s nomination also states her ability to develop bespoke training modules, using her own experiences to bring the course to life. Following her own “plastic-free travel” experience around Sri-Lanka, identified as one of the top six ocean plastic polluters, a bespoke module was successfully delivered to the Environment Agency and wider water industry. Feedback following one of her infamous role-play training sessions: “Mandhy is quite bonkers and it’s quite refreshing to learn in a different way”.

When she heard the news, Mandhy’s nominator, Ceris van de Vyver CEnv said: “I believe that Mandhy has always been a passionate environmentalist – and it has under-pinned everything she has done. As new information comes her way, she has not only upskilled herself and challenged any “non-believers” she has also adapted her own lifestyle along the way, often managing to convince others around her to change too. If going for a coffee, you are quickly reminded to never to order in a takeaway cup!

Her dynamic and exuberant style enables her to influence and engage all ages from children to adults, from mad science sessions to taking every opportunity to discuss sustainability during all training sessions to the water industry delegates!”

Also delighted with the news, the Institute of Water Vice President (Environment), Ian Barker CEnv commented: “Reliable, safe supplies of water are essential for our society and the economy. But providing those supplies, pumping and treating water for drinking (each one of us uses about a tonne of the stuff every week), and cleaning up sewage, all has a potential environmental impact. Although the sector uses cutting edge technology and is continually innovating, it relies on its people doing the right thing at the right time. Mandhy’s great skill is to work with colleagues to enthuse and educate them to improve their performance. She has a unique style that challenges people to think and to share her enthusiasm for the environment and the need for us all to protect and enhance the natural world.”

Mandhy is based in Melbourne, Australia, and therefore joined the virtual announcement event at 1am local time. When asked about her less formal approach to her work, Mandhy, alongside stating that tea and biscuits are key, pointed towards her other passion that has helped in a huge way: “the ‘other career’ was theatre, but I kept that has a hobby. That is my escape, but also turned out to be my greatest ally. It gave me the confidence to speak out in front of other people. Amateur theatre came in really handy.”

Finally, given the opportunity to express what this award means, Mandhy said: “It was a huge risk to go out on my own three or four years ago and I did doubt myself after the first year, but this has finally validated that I did follow the correct path for me. All of that work and passion and credentials have all come together. Thank you. Thank you very much for recognising me.”

David Symons CEnv – UK Director of Sustainability at WSP – was also announced as the joint 2020 Environmental Professional of the Year. Plus, Chris Landsburgh CEnv – Environmental & Sustainability Manager at Wills Bros Civil Engineering Ltd – won the first Registrant Newcomer of the Year award. Find out more about Chris and David in their Winner Spotlights by clicking on the appropriate name.

The Highly Commended Finalists for the Environmental Professional of the Year award were Claire Wansbury CEnv – Associate Director of Ecology at Atkins – and Professor Daniel B. Oerther CEnv – Professor of Environmental Health Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology.