This week we chat to…Angelique Pouponneau from the Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT). Angelique plays a key role in the financing and building of marine conservation actions in Seychelles. Originally a lawyer, Angelique reminds us even if your career is not directly linked to conservation we all have a role to play in conserving our oceans, and you do not need to be a marine scientist to be part of the change.
Name: Angelique Pouponneau
Job Title: Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
- What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
To begin with I was a lawyer. It was during my time as a practising attorney-at-law that I co-founded a youth-led NGO to promote sustainable development in Seychelles, and for Seychelles that’s always linked to the ocean. Through these activities it became clear the threats facing our ocean. I became an advocate but I felt people were not taking me seriously because, well, I’m a lawyer – what do I know about marine conservation? I then left to marry my profession and passion and undertook an LLM in environmental law focusing on Law of the Sea, and this is really where my decision to pursue a career in marine conservation started.
- What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
As mentioned above, I was engaged at grassroots level with SYAH-Seychelles. I attended many talks by experts on marine conservation and continued to educate myself. I then left to pursue an LLM in Environmental Law. I had the opportunity to work in other island nations on ocean issues, such as small-scale fisheries. With this experience I applied for a fellowship to get trained as a climate change negotiator, given that climate is one of the greatest threats to the ocean. During this time, the United Nations was negotiating a new legally binding agreement that would conserve and manage marine biodiversity and I was heavily involved in these negotiations. I returned to Seychelles thereafter.
- How did you land your current job/position?
The CEO of SeyCCAT role became available in 2018. I reluctantly applied, had a very tough interview and finally secured the post. The SeyCCAT role seemed like a good fit for me because I would be able to support ocean conservation through financing. This is not a role that is easy to come by, but an amazing role to be able to support the community and other actors to conserve the marine environment in Seychelles. We invest in Seychelles’ blue future.
- Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
That’s a tough question but probably being in the field with the projects. I am someone who is always keen to learn more and my job gives me the opportunity to learn a lot about a lot and from the experts themselves. It is a plus when I am able to visit project sites on islands I’ve never visited before and most Seychellois have not been to! I also, love the story-telling part of my job – it is very close to the role of a lawyer – sharing the stories of the various projects we fund is a small part of advocacy which sometimes also, leads to more finance.
- Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
Seeing projects yield results, such as projects where we make new recordings that had not been done before, or projects where the beneficiaries are able to generate a modest income as a result of the new skill they have acquired. These are all very rewarding to hear about and makes me feel that I am really making a difference.
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
Learn how to dive ASAP!
- Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
I never thought I would need to be able to tell stories in less than 500 words – a skill I learned in primary school but these short stories are particularly effective in communicating about the ocean.
- What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
I’ll speak to those who have not opted for a career path that is directly linked to conservation but those who are doing other roles – remember that we all have a role to play in conserving our oceans, and you do not need to be a marine scientist to be part of the change.
- What is your favourite marine creature and why?
Turtles! They are resilient and I’d like to think I am too.
- What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
Sharks are always given a bad reputation but being able to swim with sharks in both Seychelles and the Caribbean Sea is the most unforgettable moment in the sea for me.
Thank you Angelique, thank you for sharing your experience with our readers!