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“Be prepared to educate”


Eliana Vanekova


BSc International Business and Marketing



Current role:

Founder & Managing Director, ZeroSmart

How are you helping to tackle the climate crisis?

I’m helping to tackle the climate crisis through ZeroSmart by funding climate solutions and planting native trees. Our platform empowers individuals and businesses to take direct action, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainability. Together, we’re making a positive impact on the environment.

How did you get to where you are now?

I arrived where I am today through a combination of education, experience, and a shared passion for our environment. I studied International Business and Marketing at the University of Leeds, where my interest in social enterprises, which balance purpose (like the environment) and profit, grew during my final year and dissertation.

After university, I joined a startup called Global Digital Week. It wasn’t directly related to climate change, but it was a valuable experience.

Then, in 2020, during the early days of the COVID pandemic, my partner John and I noticed something interesting. We were walking in his hometown and saw how clean the river had become. The river, once tarnished by human activity, was now pristine—a testament to the planet’s resilience when given a chance. This got us thinking.

That’s when the idea for ZeroSmart came to life. We wanted to make climate solutions, like carbon offsetting, accessible to regular people who cared about the environment but didn’t have a lot to spend or didn’t know where to start.

For the last three years, John and I have been running ZeroSmart. We’ve grown our team, hired freelancers and employees, and just last year, we launched business subscriptions to help companies make their employees carbon neutral. Our aim is to make it easy for everyone to make a positive impact on the environment, no matter their budget.

What do you do as part of your role?

I wear many hats as the founder of a startup! But, in a nutshell, here’s what I do as part of my role:

In the early days, I dabbled in web and graphic design, putting together our website and creating eye-catching graphics for our social media and emails. However, nowadays, my focus has shifted more towards strategy.

I’m the one steering the ship when it comes to our business strategy. This includes deciding what services we offer – like our carbon offset gifts, carbon neutral subscriptions for individuals and families, and our climate friendly workforce subscription for businesses. I’m also busy developing strategic partnerships that help us make an even greater impact.

On top of that, I handle our marketing efforts, which range from paid advertising to spread the word about climate action to crafting engaging newsletters and nurturing customer engagement.

And last but not least, I’m in charge of our fantastic team of employees and freelancers, making sure we’re all rowing in the same direction towards our mission of making a positive impact on the environment.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

What I enjoy most about my job are the little moments that make it all worthwhile. It’s when someone chooses to buy a carbon offset gift, and in doing so, they make their loved one carbon neutral, effectively reducing their carbon footprint to zero. It’s a beautiful process where they fund verified climate solutions and have trees planted in their loved one’s name.

What makes these moments truly special is the personalised messages our customers often include for the gift recipients. Reading those messages is a heartwarming experience every time. They’re filled with such genuine thoughtfulness and meaning, and they remind me why we’re doing what we do – to make a positive impact on the environment and bring people closer together in the process.

What advice would you give to University of Leeds students wanting to pursue a similar career?

1) Beware of greenwashing: When job hunting, ensure the company truly aligns with its environmental claims. Look for social enterprises or B-Corp certified firms with strong ESG rankings. Greenwashing can be misleading, so do your due diligence.

2) Be prepared to educate: If you’re venturing into the climate action startup scene, anticipate spending a lot of time educating your customers. There are many misconceptions and misinformation out there. Your mission involves not only providing solutions but also dispelling myths to drive real change.

Are there any resources that you would recommend to individuals interested in pursuing a climate-related career? is a job website which specialises in listings with a purpose. They rigorously vet companies and even compile a list of the top 100 best employers in the UK, with a focus on their commitment to the environment. It’s an excellent place to kickstart your job search, especially if you’re seeking positions with socially and environmentally responsible organisations.