|Our September Rockstar is Okeanos IT Director Bruna Brant. Bruna oversees our robust network of IT solutions, and the work that she does every day has been integral to keeping our global team connected throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. Bruna is a passionate advocate for sustainable living and embodies the ideals of Okeanos in her daily life.
Q: Tell us about your childhood? Did you spend a lot of time by the Ocean?
A: I was born in Belo Horizonte, in the Southeast region of Brazil, close to Rio and Sao Paolo. I had a very urban childhood and always lived in an apartment building. My family lived in the city too, but my parents loved to travel and take us on family vacations – especially to the beach. When I was a child, we went every summer on to the Northeast region of Brazil, known for its beaches. Every time we arrived, I had this sensation of “coming home,” even though I didn’t grow up there. As a child, we would play a game on the way to see who would be the first person to spot the ocean. I have such joyful and fond memories of that time and always dreamed of living there. As I got older, I started exploring the nature around where I live. Belo Horizonte is surrounded by mountains, with lots of waterfalls and beautiful scenery. When I have free time, I spend it exploring this beautiful country. I find that time spent in nature energizes me.
Q: Were you always conscious of sustainability as a child?
A: As I got older, I started to observe my surroundings and my choices- an ongoing process – but to question some of my choices in society – my consumption patterns. I became increasingly aware that our consumption patterns as a family were not the best and started to do some more research to see how I could make a difference in the environment. I’ve always felt connected to nature, so the environment is one of those causes that really resonates with me. I’m working to understand how we get better in the micro but also in the macro sense.
After school, I went to live in a zero-waste eco-village in the Northeast part of Brazil called Piracanga. It was there that I learned that it’s possible to live a sustainable life with consciousness. I became a vegetarian – a life choice that is very important to me, and learned that true sustainability is not only about what you eat but what you wear, put on your body, etc. At Piracanga, we took the idea of zero-waste to heart. If we used something made from plastic, we would wash it, and put it inside of other plastic containers or bottles until they were full. We’d then use these stuffed bottles as bricks to build houses!
Q: At school your graduation project focused on the recycling system in Brazil. Can you tell us a bit more about that project and why the subject interested you?
A: In Brazil there are a lot of people that survive by going through other people’s trash and collecting cans and plastic bottles to sell back to the recycling industry through an Intermediator. This is hard work, but the people who do it make close to nothing as collecting a large amount is difficult, and the material is very cheap. For example, if they go and sell kilos of plastic, they earn just a few Reais (Brazilian currency). That intermediator buys from a lot of people and sells in bulk to the recycling industry, making all of the profits. Me and a friend of mine theorized that we could take the power to those individuals who do the hard work by working with associations or groups of them to create a logistical network that would enable them to get that scale and creating bargaining power.
Q: Brazil is the 4th largest producer of plastic in the world, while only 1.4% is recycled. Do you notice your generation is more aware of the plastic Recyling problem?
A: In school – we always had science fairs and events to try and raise awareness through educational projects. There are efforts that are just part of the collective consciousness, including a well-known sea-turtle conservation effort called Tamar. Education efforts were there, but we still witness a huge gap between learning the theory and applying it and actually practicing it in everyday life. The recycling system in Brazil is not effective. When I lived in Germany briefly, I was amazed that every household participated. In Brazil, this is not the case. Now it’s gotten a lot better. There are many different innovations surrounding sustainability and the environment. People are becoming more aware and want to do more. Just today, a company in my city announced a goal to neutralize the carbon emissions of their products. There are also a lot of natural and vegan cosmetics companies popping up. Consciousness is getting better but we have a long way to go.
Q: How did you decide to get into IT and how did you come to work with Okeanos?
A: I’m an Industrial Engineer by trade, but was working as a financial consultant. There, I relied heavily and became familiar with IT solutions. I later went to Europe to travel and participate in volunteer opportunities, and a posted opportunity in Spain piqued my interest. The person who posted the job let me know that they were no longer looking for someone to fill that role, but asked that I stay in touch. That person ended up being Florencio! I guess he saw something in me that resonated with his philosophy. Like everyone at Okeanos, I want to make the world a better place, and to make our world more sustainable. We had that in common and I thought it was amazing that someone was doing something very proactive to make that happen. I loved the idea from the start and was grateful for any chance to work on this project. It’s easy for me to understand how systems work. I enjoy learning; I’m a professional learner. If I didn’t have to worry about money, I would spend my time taking courses in different subjects. I’d love to learn how to draw, for example.
Q: What is the most challenging and rewarding parts of your role at Okeanos?
A: The most challenging part is to develop the necessary programs and procedures that our different teams on Okeanos need to function efficiently. I have to have the confidence to do everything to the best of my ability and to work with my team to get the job done. The most rewarding part of my job is collaborating with people all over the world to helping achieve our goals. It’s such a strength for the company to bring together all of these different experiences and perspectives.
Q: What is the most exciting part about the work that Okeanos is doing?
A: The idea that we’re changing the consumer patterns and habits of a whole society. We’re able to bring this to everyone in the world, regardless of where they are or of economics and everyone can be part of the change. The scalability of the project, and that it’s an immediate solution are two very exciting differentiators to me. We are seeing things happen in real time and making tangible change, not only in discourse but in practice.
Q: Did you learn any new skills during quarantine?
A: I tried to learn the ukulele and to learn how to draw! I also tried to learn how to cook – I’ve always enjoyed it, but I amped up my cooking skills.
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