Christina Maria Huber

© Jakob Barth

Christina Maria Huber, BSc MSc is a graduate of the MSc Environmental Technology & International Affairs (ETIA), opens in new window and was among the "30 under 30" of TU Wien in 2022. She is now Head of Sustainability at neoom international gmbh, opens an external URL in a new window. In this interview she tells us what her biggest challenges are and how much the knowledge acquired during her studies helps her.

You are the Head of Sustainability at NEOOM. What makes it special to work for this organization?
NEOOM is a company with purpose, in a sector that is transformational, important, and disruptive. Decentralized renewable energy has been of personal interest for many years and was why I initially chose the ETIA program. To now be working in the field is quite special. NEOOM offers a fast-paced environment that challenges me on a daily basis and creates many opportunities for growth, at the same time my co-workers are value-driven and passionate about accelerating the energy transition, which I appreciate deeply.

What has been your biggest professional success so far?
In 2023, I was invited to speak at the prestigious Salzburg summit, where I got to share the stage with influential figures like Thierry Breton, Anton Zeilinger, and Maia Sandu. Delving into discussions about sustainability and the energy transition on such a platform revealed the broad resonance these issues have across diverse sectors. It became clear to me that there's more common ground surrounding the energy transition among businesses and political figures than the public debate might suggest. This experience fuels my belief that collaborative efforts and conversations at eye-level can bridge gaps and are essential to pave the way for a more sustainable future in Europe.

How did the completion of the MSc ETIA contribute to achieving your career goals? From what did you benefit most?
The ETIA-program laid the foundation for numerous professional opportunities by diversifying my background and providing a holistic perspective on issues by considering dimensions from political, economic and natural science viewpoints. The program's greatest asset, in my opinion, lies in the diversity of its courses. Going from introductory overviews to deep dives into various topics within a short span honed my ability to swiftly grasp and navigate complex subjects – a skill I consistently apply in the dynamic sustainability field. The program's emphasis on versatility and depth has proven invaluable in my professional journey.

And what has been the biggest challenge in your professional life so far?
My current role itself is a daily challenge. It involves building up a topic and a department from the ground up in a novel area that has few ground rules. However, it is also an opportunity with a lot of room for personal and professional growth and it is exciting to be working in sustainability exactly because it leaves a lot of room for creativity.

How did the qualifications acquired during the ETIA program support you in dealing with these challenges?
In general, it’s difficult to point to a special course or skill that one learned in a Master’s program. But I would suggest that certain skills were certainly honed during my ETIA time such as working under pressure, versatility, open-mindedness and taking the time to delve into the complexities of systems. A special mention should go to Professor Loibl’s classes on international and environmental law for taking away my fear of reading EU regulations.

According to your opinion, what makes a good leader?
In my view, a good leader embodies several key qualities: Leading by example is essential, thereby setting the standard for qualitative work and authenticity. They should be able to listen to and continuously engage with co-workers and employees to foster a collaborative environment, while optimally inspiring others with passion and vision to create shared goals and purpose. Additionally, a good leader can identify and nurture the strengths in their team members, is cooperative and relies on a science-based approach in their decision-making, thereby ensuring informed and effective leadership.

How do you manage to keep your work life and private life in balance?
As someone who is passionate about the topic I work in, it is sometimes hard to separate work and private life. However, I find taking the time for hobbies, friends and family helps me be more productive and motivated at work. Setting clear boundaries and not focusing only on hours-worked helps. Letting go of the notion that all tasks have to be finished in order to stop working was an essential step, since you realize at some point that there is always another task and more work waiting for you.

Which person would you like to meet? Why?
I'd love to meet Jane Goodall. She's an incredibly inspiring person who has overcome countless challenges within her lifetime, breaking boundaries also for other women, while keeping a positive outlook on life. Her compassionate nature, dedication to animals and communities, and her lifelong commitment to a greater cause make her a truly remarkable individual.

What kind of connection to TU Wien Academy for Continuing Education do you have today? Are you still in touch with fellow students or lecturers?
I was lucky enough to meet some of my best friends during my time at ETIA and continuously cross paths with other ETIA graduates in my professional life. I have also kept in touch with some lecturers such as Professor Fellner or Professor Puxbaum, whom I share the occasional coffee or spritzer with – it’s always a pleasure.

Which (professional and/or private) goals do you want to achieve within the next ten years?
Ever since I was a teenager, I've drawn inspiration from TED Talks, immersing myself in diverse perspectives, interesting projects, and passionate individuals. Looking ahead, a significant goal for me is to get the chance to hold my own TED Talk. I want to inspire others, urge them to make sustainable choices not only in their personal lives but also to channel their energy, time and money into driving positive change in their professional spheres. I firmly believe that we all deserve a future worth living in, and addressing the climate crisis is a crucial step in shaping that future. I am confident that everyone can be part of the solution – because that is the only way we will fix this issue.