By Emily Fegan
Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) student
Natalie Irwin is currently completing an MA in Sustainable Energy (Policy) part-time at Carleton University and we were able to catch up with her to talk about her experience and some of the benefits of the MASE.
As a senior policy analyst on the strategic policy team at the Office of Energy Efficiency, Natural Resources Canada, Natalie is no stranger to energy efficiency, having been involved in the sector for over a decade. Most recently, she was Director of Stakeholder Engagement at Efficiency Canada, the think-tank and national voice for an energy-efficient economy, at Carleton University. Natalie is a Professional Business Relationship Manager, overseeing sponsorship programs and critical partnerships. Natalie has also managed the successful trade-ally program for Efficiency ONE, the franchise holder that operates Efficiency Nova Scotia for the province.
In 2019, Natalie was awarded the national Chapter Volunteer Leadership Award from the Atlantic Chapter, Canada Green Building Council and in 2016 received the Best Super-Connector Award by Halifax Partnership for her valuable work with their program.
Can you tell me about your role at the Office of Energy Efficiency?
I work on the strategic policy team, where we work with our colleagues within the Office of Energy Efficiency and other government agencies to implement energy efficiency considerations into new programs and policies. Having a background in stakeholder engagement, much of my role is obtaining feedback from the sector, and other key stakeholders on upcoming efforts, for example, the Canada Green Building Strategy.
What attracted you to the MA-SE?
Having an undergrad in business administration, I had always wanted to obtain a master’s degree that allowed me to specialize in my chosen field. I wasn’t sure what that degree would be until I landed in energy efficiency and I knew that it would be something related to this. Carleton’s Sustainable Energy program allowed me to combine my background in business administration and passion for energy efficiency with policy, a new facet to me but one I find increasingly interesting.
Can you speak to what the program has done for you in terms of your career?
Having almost completed my master’s degree, combined with my existing experience within the energy efficiency field, allowed me to obtain a more senior role within the federal government, and successfully transition from the private sector.
Have there been any advantages to taking the program on a part-time basis?
The most obvious benefit is that I was able to earn an income while being a student. The not-so-obvious advantage is that working full-time has allowed me to transfer the lessons learned in class directly to my work, and vice versa. This has helped to make the classes applicable to my everyday work-life.
Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in taking the MA-SE?
Now is the time to join the sustainable energy sector! It’s a growing sector and I already hear — on an almost daily basis — that there’s not enough talent. Having a background through education, ideally combined with co-op if you have the opportunity, is a long-term investment in your future.