Dr Ina Colombo, Deputy Director, International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR), Paris, France
Moving constantly created instability in my life. However, I had the opportunity to meet amazing people and work on various sustainable, interesting and challenging projects. To ensure successful transitions you need to be open-minded, approachable, productive, ambitious and ingenuous.
After more than 10 years’ experience working in the engineering industry and in research, Dr Ina Colombo is now a senior academic at the International Institute of Refrigeration in Paris. Having grown up in Guadeloupe in the French Caribbean and graduated with an HND in thermal engineering and energy in France, Ina transferred to England to perfect her English and pursue her early career.
Ina undertook her qualifications in the UK at London South Bank University (LSBU) on a part-time basis while she worked as a consultant/engineer. After completing her work experience at the House of Commons as an Energy Manager, Ina then worked for five years designing HVAC systems and assessing energy use in buildings for various organisations. Reflecting on her move to the UK, Ina says: “I found I was welcomed into a land with a great cultural diversity, integration and multiple professional opportunities.”
After working as a sustainable consultant, Ina returned to full-time academia at the LSBU to complete a PhD in Sustainable Refrigeration Engineering and a post-doctorate research project. She explains: “In industry, the workload is much more intense and stressful than in academia. In academia, you have time to think, reflect and make mistakes.”
After 13 years in England, Ina returned to France where she accepted the position of Deputy Director of the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR), an intergovernmental organisation. At the IIR, Ina promotes refrigeration knowledge across all applications worldwide and manages European and international projects: “Back in the France, I realised that the British way of working is much more practical and allows room for improvements. The French way focuses on quality and excellence, which I found very challenging as I am not a perfectionist.”
Ina has won various awards for her research, and was shortlisted for the Best Research of the Year 2011. She is also involved in many professional organisations, including as Head of Research and Engagement for AFBE-UK, an organisation that represents black and minority ethnic engineers.
Reflecting on her varied career, Ina explains: “Moving constantly created instability in my life. However, I had the opportunity to meet amazing people and work on various sustainable, interesting and challenging projects. To ensure successful transitions you need to be open-minded, approachable, productive, ambitious and ingenuous.”