BÁRBARA A. SMITH
Title: Senior Marketing Manager
Course: Climate Change: from Learning to Action
“I had a series of ‘awakenings’ throughout my life”, reveals Bárbara A. Smith straightaway. One of the most impactful was when she scuba dived for the very first time. “When we submerged, I discovered a myriad of colours in the corals, an unbelievable variety of fishes, sea turtles, and immense peace. It was as if I found ‘another world within ours’. I cannot put in words what it feels like to discover such an environment for the very first time, but I believe it must be a very similar experience to being in outer space.” Bárbara’s account testifies to what perhaps is her most remarkable trait, the wisdom of those few who master the long-lost ability to be in awe of our planet’s wonders.
Another attribute of Bárbara is her readiness to take matters into her own hands or as she puts it: to turn her “preoccupation” into her “occupation”. “I always had a great concern about — and love for — the environment, so I decided to study biological sciences. At that time in Argentina, however, there were not enough job opportunities in this field. As I was unable to work and study concurrently, I changed my career path to marketing.”
Although Bárbara’s initial plans of turning her passion for the planet into her full-time occupation, she went on to become an accomplished Senior Marketing Manager with over 18 years of experience (and counting!) at arguably the most famous multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate in the world. “I had an interest in behavioural analysis and communication and now I am an expert in communication and brand development. I mainly work with everything related to the audience, how to capture the audience’s interest and retain it”, she explains.
However, as time passed Bárbara felt drifting away little by little from what once was her goal: to put her love for nature at the centre of her life. “A couple of years ago, I felt the urge to reconnect with that part of me and everything that has to do with taking care of our environment — it was another awakening I had. I am very concerned about the current climate crisis, and it gives me great anxiety to see that we are not taking concrete actions collectively and individually. So, I thought I might as well study, get knowledge and skills to make more informed decisions at home and in my community.”
After searching online, Bárbara came across the Climate Change: From Learning to Action course, a six-module self-paced e-learning course created and delivered by The One UN Climate Change Learning Partnership (UN CC:Learn). The course gives learners an overview of what climate change is, how it affects us, how to adapt to and mitigate its effects, how to plan and finance action on climate change, how climate change negotiations work, and how to take real action to tackle it. “I wanted to enrol in a course that was short and that I could understand the information”, explains Bárbara adding that she was impressed by UN CC:Learn’s website and purpose and decided to sign up.
“I loved it! It has high-quality information, qualified speakers and contains a lot of resources such as websites and data with more in-depth info for those interested in learning more. It took me some time to finish it because I wanted to make the most out of each module, but even so, I truly appreciated it.”
The information shared by Miguel Naranjo, a Programme Officer with the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat and one of the course instructors, resonated with Bárbara the most. “He explained how we can reduce our impact individually and collectively in three sectors: agriculture, energy and transportation. That helped me make more conscious decisions on my day-to-day and change habits at home with my family and my friends.”
A while later, Bárbara also became brand lead in an international company working closely with one of the most renowned and largest non-profit scientific and educational organizations there is! “The brand in question is very connected with the concept of living with purpose and caring for the environment, so I was thrilled with the opportunity.” In this new role, Bárbara has had the chance she longed for: to turn her “preoccupation” into her “occupation” — more specifically, to raise awareness about the current climate crisis through her work.
“The content of the course has inspired me to create and plan our communication campaigns in a way that fosters a real impact. Brands carry great responsibility, and we don’t want them to ‘green wash’ their businesses. We want them to raise awareness and promote a real change in behaviour and brands have the potential power to do that.”
At home and amongst friends, Bárbara has earnt the affectionate name “the one that loves the planet.” Although she enjoys it, she is keen to explain that it is not a matter of merely liking it or not, but “there is no other way to live. Many forecasts warn that the climate crisis can no longer be reverted, so I hope that we manage to reduce its effects. Ultimately, this is our home, and we won’t have a better place if we don’t live in complete harmony with nature.” We could not agree more and look forward to seeing the impact of Bárbara’s efforts to drive change at home and at work!