Sereima Dibula Koli trains with Queensland’s Department of Environment

Tuesday, July 2, 2024
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Fijian WLI alumna Sereima Dibula Koli has increased confidence in her ability to lead her team and a “greater appreciation” for the work that goes into maintaining a sustainable environment after undergoing training and professional development with Queensland’s Department of Environment.

Through the Women’s Developmental Leadership Program, Sereima joined the Department’s Waste and Compliance Unit to gain a better understanding of team management, organisational communication, and innovative waste management practices for environmental health.

A Master of Environmental Engineering (Griffith University) student and advocate, Sereima says the training and development opportunity was invaluable for postgraduate students like her “who are interested in pursuing careers in waste management”.

About the placement within Queensland’s Department of Environment

From June to October 2023, Sereima joined the Department in Brisbane to gain practical knowledge and skills needed to manage waste effectively.

She learned about waste management practices, regulations, and policies that are currently implemented in Queensland, as well as the latest technologies and innovations being developed in the field.

A passionate environmentalist with over 15 years’ experience working within Fiji’s Mineral Resources Department, Sereima believes the development program provided “an excellent opportunity” to enhance skills and knowledge in the field of waste management – ultimately helping to advance her career.

According to Sereima, one of the most valuable aspects of her time with the Department was attending weekly online meetings with regional offices.

“During these meetings, I was able to gain valuable insights into the work that had been done so far, the challenges the Department faced during weekly operations, and the pending work that needed to be completed,” Sereima explained.

Working with various teams within the Department also proved to be an “enlightening experience” for Sereima, who received professional advice and guidance from her supervisor and other colleagues.

“Sharing the same workspace with [staff] allowed me to learn from their experiences and gain a deeper understanding of the Department's operations,” Sereima shares.

During her time in the Compliance Unit, Sereima also carried out fieldwork and inspections relating to illegal waste dumping, which represents a global challenge in effective waste management.

Sereima explained,“Through this experience, I gained a deeper understanding of the challenges that arise in ensuring compliance with environmental regulations and witnessed firsthand the amount of effort required to enforce environmental regulations..."

Key ‘takeaways’ from the professional development experience

For Sereima, the experience was rewarding in both a professional and a personal development sense, helping her to better understand her own leadership, as well as the needs of teams she guides and manages.

"One of the most important lessons I've learned is the critical role of teamwork in achieving a common goal,” Sereima explains, “I've learned that effective communication is crucial, and it's essential to keep an open line of communication with the team to ensure that everyone is on the same page.”

Now, Sereima has boosted confidence in her ability to lead a team in the future, recognising that “listening, good communication, and acknowledging team members' hard work are all critical components of successful teamwork”.

As waste management remains a significant challenge in Fiji and the Pacific, Sereima believes that while government efforts to enforce compliance have had a positive impact, “more needs to be done” to strengthen compliance and monitoring efforts for environmental benefit.

“By working closely with businesses and individuals and providing them with the right information and incentives, the Fijian Government can help reduce the negative impact of waste on the environment and ensure that Fiji remains a beautiful and clean country,” she explains.

Learn More About Professional Development for WLI Participants and Alumni