People Spotlight Series: Meet Amani Bhobe
Our People Spotlight series gives you an inside look at our technical experts around the world. This week, we are highlighting a consultant from our Environment global business line in the UK and providing you insight into their inspiration and work.
Amani is an assistant social consultant on the Social Impact and Equality team. She specializes in the development of techniques to measure, evaluate and monitor social value outcomes and in the development of robust measurement frameworks for the valuation of non-market goods, specifically focused on community well-being, welfare, and public health.
What inspired you to join the industry? I have always been interested in finding ways to reduce inequality and improve community welfare. I believe projects should work to not only mitigate or minimize negative outcomes but create positive social impact. While pursuing my master’s degree in sociology, I began to think about how the spaces where people live and work can be sites for transformative social change, especially if projects deliver positive impacts beyond the bare minimum. This was my introduction to the relationship between social value, social impact, and the built environment. Shortly after completing my studies, I was hired at AECOM.
What is your favorite AECOM project that you’ve worked on and why? My favorite project so far has been the social value work we did for Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC). We developed a bespoke social value measurement matrix to measure the value of BPSDC’s flagship community outreach programs. They were doing amazing work as part of their community outreach endeavors and wanted us to find a way to communicate their impact in terms of social value. We had incredible support from BPSDC, got to interview a lot of amazing people, and hear all about the incredible impact they have been having on local communities – we even measured the social value produced by a local community choir!
For me, the most interesting aspect of the project was determining how to set up this custom framework. The process involved developing our own value bank, conducting primary research, and some trial-and-error. Finding ways to responsibly value traditionally non-market goods like wellbeing and happiness, for instance, can be complicated, and there are serious ethical questions around monetization that arise when constructing a methodology. But the opportunity to investigate precisely these tricky questions is what made this such an interesting project and a great learning experience. Social practioners, especially those interested in social value, need to strongly consider the ethics of monetization and valuation, particularly where data is not readily available, and think carefully about how social value measurement can be customized for every project. It’s not one-size-fits all.
Tell us a story of how your work positively impacted the community. A recent project I worked on alongside my manager involved the preparation of an Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) for the extension of the Bakerloo line for Transport for London (TfL). EqIAs are critical in order to ensure projects can deliver positive social impacts and that any negative impacts on various equality groups can be identified and mitigated early in the project lifecycle. The EqIA assessment identified several potential beneficial equality effects of the extension proposals, including increased connectivity, indirect and direct employment opportunities created from the scheme, and health and wellbeing impacts on local communities. The report was extremely well received, and we have been asked to conduct a workshop on EqIAs at TfL.
What career advice would you like to share? Learn as much as you can, on the job and off the job. I’m always signing up for MOOCs and webinars to build knowledge on subjects that interest me and striking up conversations with people both within my practice area and outside of it.